Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Traveling With Books.

(This blog entry was delayed due to...what else...my going to Malice Domestic!)

I’ve just finished most of my packing for my first Malice. I’m excited to be going and am looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones, to great panels, and especially to getting ideas for new books to read!

I always put off packing ‘til the last minute. But now the easy part is done—making sure I remembered pajamas and the toothpaste and making choices for clothes I hope will be appropriate for the weather.

The hard part is before me . . . making sure I have books to read on the road. Even knowing there will be opportunity to acquire lots of books at Malice, for me it’s important to pack a good assortment, after all one can never have too many books to choose from. And among the selection must be one or two set in or around Washington. I love fiction that transports me to another place or another time. Most of my traveling with books is done at home from my favorite comfy chair. But I especially love it when I’m able to travel to a place physically while I’m traveling to it through a book I’m reading.

This all began back in grad school when I serendipitously packed a copy of Sara Paretsky’s Killing Orders to take along to a conference in Chicago. For my first and only visit to San Francisco, my copy of The Maltese Falcon was at my side. Image my delight at discovering our hotel was just up the hill from the spot where Sam Spade’s partner, Miles Archer was shot! On our 25th anniversary, my husband and I returned to where we’d spent our honeymoon near Fontana Dam, North Carolina. We listened to Sharyn McCrumb’s Bimbos of the Death Sun in car while driving through the Smoky Mountains. We’ve gone back to the Smokies each spring since that trip; Charles Frazer’s 13 Moons is loaded into my iPod in anticipation of our visit next month.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this obsession. I’d love to hear other people’s experiences of traveling with books.

Mary Callahan Boone
Library Liaison, Sisters in Crime.

1 comment:

Vance Gloster said...

Last year we took our first ever trip to Europe, traveling through England, Wales and Ireland.

In London, even though it is a bit touristy, we enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes museum, at (where else?) 221B Baker St. They have a faithful recreation of the kind of rooms Holmes and Watson would have lived in, along with "artifacts" from Holmes' cases.

From London we went to Oxford. We had lunch in the Eagle and Child pub (locally known as the Bird and Brat), where Morse occasionally took liquid sustenance. It was also where the Inklings, a small group of Oxford dons, used to meet to discuss politics, religion and writing. A couple of the members were J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

What I enjoyed in Oxford even more than the Morse locations were locations from the Edmund Crispin novel The Moving Toyshop. We stayed in a B&B about where the toyshop was located before it moved. Crispin vividly used Oxford locations and it was fun to trace the course of the novel through town.

Of course, if you love books, you have to see the Bodleian Library while you are in Oxford. It is the oldest library in the world that is still operating as a library. It predates the printing press, with its original volumes hand-written on vellum. And across the street is one of the largest bookstores in the world.

From there we went to Shrewsbury to see Cadfael country (from Ellis Peters' novels). The Shrewsbury Abbey is a wonderful ancient structure dating from 1083. Across the street you can see an agricultural yard which is shown as Cadfael's herb garden on the TV shows.

From there we went through Wales and took the ferry to Dublin, the site of many mysteries. There we also got to see the tower where the first scene in James Joyce's Ulysses takes place.

Seeing scenes from your favorite novels can be a lot of fun when you're traveling. We are talking about doing a road trip though the Southwest (if gas prices ever go down) to visit some of Tony Hillerman's country.

-Vance Gloster