Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Books for the Mountain

I'm heading out of town for a week to do some mountain climbing out west. Much less exciting than it sounds, this will still involve snow and camping, long views, and the clean sweet scent of the high country. O to escape the miasmic lowlands for a few days!

In any case, the most urgent priority is not camping gear or food, but -- what else? -- the selection of books to take.

I'm halfway through Catherine Fisher's excellent Incarceron. I love how things aren't explained to us and they're not fully explained to the characters, either. There's a fine line between letting your readers share the characters' emotions and just plain confusing them, and this book nails it.

Trouble is, I'd finish it during my first airport layover. Sorry, Incarceron!

Another possibility: Thomas Mann's weighty Buddenbrooks. Yeesh. I've been trying to read this in the evenings before I fall asleep, and that may be the problem. How hard should I have to fight to get into a book? Isn't it supposed to hook me? This one may not make it into my luggage.

What about Italo Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler? This one's the wild card. I've heard good things about it, and it's no flash-in-the-pan, having been in print since the late 1970s. It's thin enough not to be a burden, and it could be fascinating ... OR a self-indulgent romp through avant-garde goofiness. Verdict: undecided.

And now we get to my two shoe-ins. Two books by David Michell, author of the wonderful Black Swan Green and Cloud Atlas: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Ghostwritten. My cup runneth over! Somehow I imagine both of these will be taken, squeezing out optional equipment such as socks and my backpack.

What else? Surely there are others. As soon as I get home and browse the stacks on the dining room table (I know, I know!) I'm sure other books will clamor to be taken. On a trip like this, the only thing worse than running out of something to read is accidentally packing the wrong book. In which case I need to run not walk to the nearest bookstore and support my fellow writers.


Babs said...

Here's one to consider--Blue Highways - by William Least Heat-Moon. He circumnavigates the U.S. on the non-interstates and writes about the people he meets and places he sees--really good.

Anonymous said...

"miasmic lowlands"? --OUCH!!!