Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Reading to Transport

When I wrote 15 Reasons to Read,  I failed to mention one of the most important:

to be transported

Roald Dahl mentions that books 'transported' Matilda 'into new worlds' from the comfort of her home in an English village, however there is also the very physical transport of reading while travelling.

By this I don't just mean in the metaphorical sense but in a very real sense. The very movement from one place to another and the time it takes to do this, as well as the more figurative transportation into other worlds. I have just come back from a visit to my Mother on holiday in Spain which involved the physical journey starting at 3am with a taxi, then coach, then a walk around an airport, to a plane to Spain, and another walk around an airport, then a minibus and finally the short walk to my mum's apartment, arriving around 9 hours later.

This would have been a tedious journey without, every step of the way, having an audiobook playing in my ears. While I waited in line for the bus, or made my way through the airport, or was held up in security, or on all the journeys when I could close my eyes and be transported while being transported.

Nine hours of travel gave me, not just the opportunity to get somewhere else but to get immersed in another world and take a journey unbroken by the usual day-to-day issues which have us resorting to bookmarks in or turning over the corner of the page, until we return to the book or not and oft times  means we meet the books we are reading at a surface level like a stone skimming the water.

My Journey & Transportation


To Spain (Book 1) Audiobook 1: I read Second Life because it was the second novel of S J Watson, who wrote the psychological thriller Before I Go to Sleep. Most of my family read and loved the first, however the second turned out to be predictable and in its attempt to create the same kinds of twists and turns as his first book, it doesn't quite make it. The plotting has the shape of a snake swallowing its own tail and regurgitating it again.

In Spain (Book 2) Paperback: I read The House at Riverton by Kate Morton because my Mum, recommended it to me one day and the next we found it in a second hand stall for a euro (in English in a Spanish market!). If that's not a sign I don't know what is. So I began the daunting 599 paged saga and found it an easy read. The main character Grace Bradley, aged 98, tells her story of being a housemaid in the 1920s at Riverton, and I enjoyed following her into her Upstairs Downstairs world of the past and present.

In Spain (Book 3) Kindle Edition: I read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler for a book group session I was going to miss while on holiday, but felt guilty enough to read anyway. I was glad I did - I loved it. It was a book which had a foundation in the writers life experience growing up with a psychologist as a father, which was backed up and drawn out and elucidated with research giving it a great sense of place, time and occasion. It was a story only the author could tell and all the better for it.

To London (Book 4) Audiobook 2: I read The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block because my partner recommended it and it was shorter than the previous 300+, 400+ and 599 paged previous books. It made the journey home enjoyable. I was quite tired and between naps and the voice of Alan Sklar, I had a thoroughly therapeutic travelling experience. When I couldn't find my passport or the alarm went off at the airport or the child behind me kicked my seat on the plane while her grandparents moaned about the service of the budget airline, I fell in and out of sleep and let the story of ex-cop Matthew Scudder transport me to another world. Yes it may have been a world of murder and mayhem but in the mind of Matthew Scudder, we see a world where mysteries are solved, justice is sought and achieved and knowing right from wrong is a comfort in an otherwise disturbing world.

So from London to Spain and back again I was transported, physically and figuratively and through time between London, Paris and Berlin, a 1920s English Country House, the world of science and psychology and New York's Greenwich Village.

Sometimes I wish I lived farther away from my work just so I could read while I travel there. Maybe I'll just pretend I do and take a bus or train or walk just to have a read and be transported.

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