27 Aug 2009

'It's The Summer Of The Chunky Book'.

Books are heavy. You know why the University of Massachusetts has a tall library building which only houses books on its ground floor? Because the architects forgot to factor in the weight of the books.

We, though, do factor in the weight of the books we take on holiday, if we are flying. And as publishers make books bigger and bigger in the misguided belief that this is the only way we will take any notice of them, whole swathes of literature are closed off on the foreign holiday. But now that we are all 'staycationing',* hurrah! We can take what we like. **

The thing is, if you're staying in 'Blighty', it is best not to take books set abroad. They will only make you yearn for foreign lands. Anthony Burgess's EARTHLY POWERS is the best fat holiday read ever, but it zips around all over the place, and you don't, so leave it behind. You may also give the Proust a miss.

Stick to native stuff. Any Dickens you haven't read? (Hmm, maybe too London based.) Try Thackeray's PENDENNIS, not as well known as Vanity Fair, but well worth it and almost as funny.

If you're going to Wales or Cornwall, try Malory's MORTE d'ARTHUR, which is not nearly as hard to read as it looks at first sight. If you would rather history, take Peter Ackroyd's ALBION, to get you really rooted in the country. If you like to keep up to date, this is an opportunity to take to the block-buster hardback; Neal Stephenson's ANATHEM (may be too SF for some, and breaks the Britain-only rule by being set on another planet; cf Susanna Clarke's alternative history, JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL, Hilary Mantel's WOLF HALL, or A.S Byatt's THE CHILDREN'S BOOK. Any three of them together would actually prevent a plane from taking off, but you have no excuse now. Get packing.

SOURCE: Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian.

DISCLAIMER: Any books mentioned in the above article, are the views of Nicholas Lezard and not myself.

* 'Staycationing' ? Yes, I don't know about you but it took me a while to work it out - staycation/vacation.

** Not if you are travelling by coach or train.


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This is a fantastic post. I had no idea about the University of Massachusetts but I am so glad I stopped by today so in a conversation I plan to have soon I can sound extremely intelligent thanks to this knowledge I picked up in your post. :)

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews said...

Hi Petty,

I got your note about the blogoversary button...not sure why it didn't work for you. It's blogoversary.com...I think I found it on someone else's blog!

Hope this helps!


Petty Witter said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, Sheila and hope your planned conversation goes well.

RE: Blogoversary - Thanks for that Sharon, I guess I'll just have to keep trying.