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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • May 22, 2006

     

    Air Travel and Reading

    I bring a lot of reading materials with me when I travel. All year round I maintain a "vacation reading" pile at home and from which I pick a few really appealing ones to take with me. I try to avoid hardcovers to keep the bags light as I travel light. In domestic travel on the plane readers of Da Vinci Code, Why Men Love Bitches and The Devil Wears Prada usually engulf me while I'm plowing through eclectic, nerdy titles like Introduction to Literary Theory. A couple years ago it used to be The Lovely Bones which topped all bestseller charts and pervaded into most of the book clubs. I find international travelers not as bent on reading as the domestic ones do, although they read crappy, C grade pocket fictions. International travelers might be glued to their personal entertainment screen on a long-haul flight like the one I take to Hong Kong, which pulled out of San Francisco shortly after midnight and arrived 14.5 hours later in the crack of dawn. I usually passed supper, which was served about an hour after takeoff as the giant 747 reached its navigation altitude, at 35000 feet. I would sleep through the first half of the flight and wake up just about when I crossed the international date line!

    The clip-on itty-bitty reading light is a godsend especially when the overhead the yellow patch of the reading light is a bit titled over and shines on the snoring person next to you. Also some of the jetliners have definitely seen better days so the reading lights might not even function properly. So I would put on my headphones and turn on the shuffle mode of my iPod and start reading. I read Memoirs of a Geisha during my most recent flight to Asia, along with The Advocate, and sometimes Cargo (so is it really a gay icon?), depending on whichever I can find at the bookstores in the departure hall. I also read Brokeback Mountain on another flight and the cowboy makeout scene just exert way too much tension on my pants! I wrote the original journal entry on Brokeback Mountain which spurred on to become a full review on the plane.

    I also have a predilection for James and Trollope when I fly: a long, hearty novel with rich, meandering prose, prose that is carefully constructed as if it is not aimed for the audience or storytelling but to achieve literary erudition. I am currently reading Wings of the Dove, the story of Milly Theale, a naive, doomed American heiress and a pair of lovers who conspire to inveigle her fortune. I simply can't put this crafted witty tragedy off until I sit in the Author's Lounge at The Oriental in Bangkok! Travel for me is the time for reading, in addition to the sightseeing and fun. Reading on a plane with a flight full of people falling asleep creates that mysterious silence that renders an immense excursion for the spirit of a reader possible. It's that solitude, the quiet of the mind with which I can concentrate on the book among a crowded consciousness.

    What do you plan to read on your next get-away?

    8 Comments:

    Blogger matty said...

    I never get away. Never. I hope to see London/Paris next year, tho.

    right now I am reading:
    "Freak Unique" by Pete Burns
    "Guess Again" by Bernard Cooper (for my pal, Ing's reading group --drop me an email if interested in joining -- meets once a month)
    "Pulling Taffy" by Matt Bernstein Sycamore
    "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly" by Jean-Dominque Bauby

    5/22/2006 8:16 PM  
    Anonymous iliana said...

    OMG compiling my books for travel is so hard. I usually take three paperback books with me - just in case I finish one or one is horrid.

    The last few trips I've taken one mystery, a classic and some current fiction. That's been working out for me.

    5/22/2006 8:52 PM  
    Blogger Alan said...

    I'm a voracious reader when I travel. I'm either a softcover, Grisham-esque reader, or I do the magazine route -- Out, ESPN, Newsweek are the ones I look out for.

    5/23/2006 6:01 AM  
    Blogger Robert said...

    I wish I knew when/where is our next get-away will be. bleh! Usually I only take 1 book and 1 magazine. That's plenty for me. I have quite a short attention span sometimes.

    5/23/2006 8:39 AM  
    Anonymous Danielle said...

    I never seem to go on vacation anymore--blah. When I am flying I have to take something really absorbing as I can get easily distracted on a plane. And I always agonize over which books (as I always have more than one) to take with me!

    5/23/2006 10:30 AM  
    Blogger Greg said...

    Flights give the best opportunity for uninterrupted reading! My last plane flight -- July of last year -- I started and finished Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. I'm flying to Boston next month and will take either Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess or Forbidden Colors by Yukio Mishima.

    5/23/2006 4:27 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Matt-
    Congrat on "B". He must really rock your world! I've been trying to look for a book club - saw an ad from the Eureka/Castro library branch about one book club that meets every third Wednesday of the month. Where are you guys meeting? I'll e-mail you. Thanks.

    iliana-
    I know what you mean! I usually let the vacation stack pile up and pick about 3 (I usually go for a month off) and grab a couple mags.

    Swede & Czech-
    Thanks for linking me! I enjoy your blog a lot! And I just found out that I was featured on your "Blogger Spoltlight" on May 19! Thanks! :) It's during a flight or travel that I can finish reading a magazine cover to cover.

    Robert-
    I don't blame you for short attention span since you've got so much to do travelling. But 1 book and 1 mag sound like workable (and you're so much a philosopher so I bet you'll spend more time reflecting on what you read). :)

    Danielle-
    Why not? It's okay to take more than one, I take 3 or 4, or just take a couple and acquire more overseas. The first day I was in Bangkok I went to this giant bookstore that has, literally, everything! IT's called Asia Books but don't let the title deceive you - I've found UK editions of few of the out-of-print books here!

    Greg-
    I just got ABOUT A BOY and like my e-mail says, I need to print out another Borders coupon to buy FORBIDDEN COLORS!

    5/24/2006 11:50 AM  
    Blogger Robert said...

    Oh you're fun-knee Matt. Actually, it seems like I forget all the material as soon as I put the damn book down. :-/ Not much grey matter over here I guess.

    5/24/2006 2:28 PM  

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