Monday, June 22, 2009

Books That Travel With You

I'm leading a group read of Betsy and the Great World over at Maud-L at the moment. I've read this novel countless times and I find myself focusing on different aspects of it each time and sometimes noticing things that I've never noticed before, particularly this time through as I read it with a view to thinking up questions to generate discussion among fellow Betsy-Tacy fans. One of my current preoccupations is books mentioned within books, so this time round a passage describing the books that Betsy took with her to Europe (first stop: Munich) jumped out at me:

Opposite, beyond the door, were ranged the wardrobe and a table covered with a spread on which were pictures of Julia and Paige, Bob Barhydt, Tacy and Tib. Mr. Burton's chocolates (what was left of them) sat there and her books: The Beloved Vagabond, Little Women, Emerson's Essays, some Dickens, Thackeray, and Dumas, and The Oxford Book of English Verse. Joe Willard had sent her that from Cambridge. There was another book Joe had given her, a limp leather copy of As You Like It.

Perhaps that sounds like rather a lot of books, but remember that this is early 1914 and Betsy is anticipating spending a year in Europe, so she's traveling with a hefty trunk. Mind you, sometimes I find myself tempted to carry just as many on a weekend away, simply because I can't make up my mind what I might feel like reading in advance. Which brings me to my question for you. If you were going away for a lengthy trip, which books would you take with you? Are there particular volumes that you couldn't do without?

8 comments:

printersrowpoet said...

I don't have a particular book I must have with me on a trip, but I'm always worried about finishing a book and having nothing with me to read. So I do tend to overpack books. I feel as if I must have a mystery, a nonfiction, and a book of poetry at all times!

Book Club Girl said...

I love this post idea. Also, I wanted to say that I just joined Maud L and I really like what you wrote about BATGW as I too found the beginning of the novel really disconcerting, when I first read it, to find out how much had changed in Betsy's life since graduation. The Rays not in Deep Valley? No Joe? I was freaked out!

But onto your great question. Well, I would need every Betsy-Tacy book or at a minimum, if I was traveling for a year, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, Heaven to Betsy and Betsy and the Great World. Other YA lit: All-of-a-Kind Family, Harry Potter, Those Miller Girls, and Meet the Austins. For adult books: Pride and Prejudice, Arms and the Man, The Things They Carried, Thorn Birds, Empire Falls, The Sportswriter and Independence Day and some May Sarton.

Can you imagine how many books Betsy would have taken to Europe if she'd had a kindle? ;)

litlove said...

When I was 6, I decided to run away from home. After trying to pack my books into carrier bags for an hour or so, I ended up deciding I'd have to stay put. This is rather how I feel about any lengthy stay away from my house nowadays!! There's so much I feel I need to have about me. But if I were just going on a normal holiday, I'd only take a handful of books.

I've never read Betsy-Tacy, but one day you will break down my resistance completely, Kate!

fodden said...

I'd take the boxed set of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin novels. Witty, beautifully written, incidentally educational, and at times a dash of derring-do.

constancelouis said...

If you like Pride and Prejudice you could try Prawn and Prejudice - the seaside version - should make you laugh!

Kailana said...

I think more about what books to take with me on a trip than I do about anything else. Sometimes I take too many, while other times I don't take enough...

Lisa said...

I end up taking way too many books with me on just a week-long vacation simply because I am a mood reader and have no way of knowing what I may want to read a week ahead of time. It may sound silly, but it is true. So, there's certainly no reason for me to make a list a month ahead of time (as we'll be going to the beach the end of July). I do love books that mention other books. I always pay special attention to these allusions and often seek out the books.

Dorothy W. said...

I don't think there are particular books I would need with me -- I think, instead, I would take what I'm currently working on and a few more I want to read. And then I would plan on buying new books wherever I happened to be! If I couldn't buy new books, then I suppose I'd want something familiar, as well as new things, most likely a Jane Austen novel or two.