The two months of travelling were good, but there was one thing that I sorely missed while I was there - there were few English bookstores in Vietnam, not even in the big city or popular travel destinations (the second-hand book shops are filled in unloved crime fiction and 100 copies of Animal Farm). Having finished reading my Milan Kundera on the flight in and only medical textbooks in my suitcase I ran of choices pretty quickly. I have luckily bought a rather battered and poorly bind copy of Zadie Smith's White Teeth from the street hawker near the lake in Hanoi which sailed me through a few short flights and bus rides - while nurturing my nostalgia for cooler London. That was the first time I actually wanted a Kindle - having only one book to read in 7 weeks is not an ideal situation.
Having finally got my hands on a Kindle last week has changed my way of reading. (No, not the one with a glossy screen. I've got a Kindle paperwhite from Argos!) It really holds like real paper and I was instantly hooked, loading samples after samples of books that I've always meant to and wanted to read - including ones that are not usually available in the store (one of which is Patti Smith's Woolgathering - a short, dreamy beauty) Reading books that usually in big hardback is especially a joy - now I can finally read in bed comfortably without awkward positioning and book hitting my face, and carry books around with me while I am in cafes or in transits, dipping in and old of pages and stories.
My recent favourite big (and small) books while travelling
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- Letters to Monica by Philip Larkin (more like an all time favourite)
- Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton
- Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater
- The Old Ways and The Mountains of the Mind, both by Robert MacFarlane
- Reveries of a Solitary Walker by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
- Journal of Katherine Mansfield