Over the last few months I’ve had a bit of a blogging hiatus, due to travelling, job applications and whatnot. Composing cover letters drains all the fun out of writing! But while I might have given the keypad a break I’ve been enjoying catching up on some great books. There’s nothing like long plane, and bus journeys to give you some good reading time, in fact the only downside was fitting the books into my rucksack and making sure I didn’t have to pay excess! I even sacrificed a pair of shoes to make space for Margaret Atwood’s hefty novel The Blind Assassin. Below is my travel reading list (from which you’ll notice that I managed to get through quite a few on my ‘catch up list’).
- The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood – A big old pullitzer prize winner full of original ideas as the perfect escapism from cramped hostels in Tokyo.
- The Parasites, Daphne Dumaurier – A dark little novel exploring the relationship between and the personalities of a group of self-centred siblings enjoyed in the sunshine in Bangkok.
- No Time For Goodbye, Linwood Barclay – Unputdownable thriller / mystery about a girl who discovers her family have gone missing one morning. Beach reading for Koh Samui.
- One Good Turn: A Jolly Murder Mystery, Kate Atkinson – Entertaining read about a curious collision of lives pilfered from a hotel bookshelf (I did leave the Parasites in return!) in Koh Samui.
- Mudbound, Hillary Jordan – A moving story about the struggles of rural living and racial tension in the Mississippi Delta after the second world war, consumed mostly in a hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City.
- A Case of Need, Michael Crichton – A fantastically battered copy of a 70’s novel about an abortion doctor and a heated legal case read in a very hot, fanless guesthouse in Siem Reap Cambodia.
- Sovereign, C.J. Sansom – A monkish mystery set in Tudor times that now I think of it has lots of parallels with The Name of the Rose. Fitted in between lots of partying in Sydney!
- In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences, Truman Capote – An incredibly detailed journalists account of a gruesome murder of an all-american family that occured in Kansas in 1959. An instant favourite during my stay in Auckland
- Just After Sunset, Stephen King – Awful and at times just plain wierd book of short stories, by a usually excellent horror writer.
- The Body Farm, Patricia Cornwell – My first foray into the Kay Scarpetta novels was entertaining but I still prefer Tess Gerritson and Sophie Hannah
- The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins – Such an enjoyable classic, I loved the over the top characters and the thick plot while staying on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands
- The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco – A bit of a struggle to get through the theological philosophising to the actually very good plot while driving around sunny California!
- The Testament, John Grisham – A multi-billionaire commits suicide and leaves the expected heirs nothing while pledging everything to a daughter who lives a life of a reclusive missionary! A recipe for trouble thoroughly enjoyed on a 2 night stint in an LA hostel.
The stand out novel by far for me was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood which, on putting down thought ‘I think this might be the best book I have ever read!’. I found the depth to which Capote investigates the characters and the skill by which he conveys them to be truly extraordinary. It’s a book that really got under my skin and it is definitely my ‘new favourite’. Really I should have been organised and planned books for different countries (although I did read In Cold Blood in advance of visiting the States!) but I enjoyed picking up novels I might not normally have read in hostels and second hand bookshops along the way. For instance, I have never particularly wanted to read a Michael Crichton novel or a John Grisham having had some idea that they are the kind of books read by middle aged business-men, but actually really, really enjoyed them to my great surprise and found the writing style to be superb. It just goes to show how important it is to stay open minded about what does and doesn’t make a well written book.