In a week and a half, I’m headed to France for a month. I’m taking students on a study-abroad tour sponsored by my university: the students will be in France for a whole semester, and I am with them for the first leg of the trip, in Alsace. During my part of the trip, the students stay with families for two weeks while I stay in a small apartment, and then we move into a hostel. I have my afternoons and weekends mostly free.
I say this not to make you jealous, but to ask: what should I read? I don’t have an e-reader (and am not sure I want one — I have serious problems with DRM and proprietary technology when it comes to books), so my usual mantra to pack light is in terrible jeopardy when I need to pack books for an entire month, including two transatlantic flights. Of course I can (and will) buy books in France, but again, that’s weight and cost I should try to be careful of if I can, considering that I’ll be carrying all my own luggage, hoisting it up to train racks myself, and so forth.
Here’s my current, tentative list. Tell me what you think — and what you would read on such a trip!
two dense books, not to be sped through too quickly: The Arabian Nights, translated by Husain Haddawy, and The Arabian Nights: A Companion, by Robert Irwin.
two spy novels, to be left in France or wherever I finish them: Shelley’s Heart and The Better Angels, both by Charles McCarry.
two books of literary fiction I’ve been wanting to read for some time: Love and Sleep, by John Crowley, and The Age of Dreaming, by Nina Revoyr.
one thick book I haven’t yet read, by a favorite author: Green Dolphin Country, by Elizabeth Goudge.
I am still considering adding something like Don Quixote, but am wavering. What’s your advice? How do you travel with, or without, books?