Summer is approaching at a fast pace and I am preparing to go on the road again. On the horizon is an exciting road trip. Starting with the World Fair in Italy, followed by the pursuit of beautiful lavender fields and vineyards in Provence and Camargue in France. Historical Spain comes next and finally my beautiful country, Portugal where family and sandy beaches await. I’m so looking forward to it!
Besides appropriate clothing I will take little else since I know I will be buying a lot on the way to bring back.
Perfumed olive oils, lavender, olives, special cheeses are definitely on the top of my list. But there will be other products from my country that I miss in Austria. I think there is nothing like a piece of home to make you feel less home sick when you live abroad.
But there is something I can’t resist taking. Something I can’t do without, no matter where I am in this world, books! Since we got married my husband has been trying very hard to decrease the purchase and weight of books with little success. I must add he is also to blame because often he can’t resist to increase his collection as well. And what to say about my daughter? Since she was born 5 years ago, her love of books has manifested itself in ways that are increasingly worrying. Particularly when it comes to space management in her bedroom. She is now on a fast pace to reading by herself and when it happens, I can only imagine it will get much worse. Basically, we are hopeless when it comes to books.
My husband even offered me a Kindle which I love to use on public transports. It is very light and practical. But for me nothing can compare to paper. Holding a book in your hands, opening that first page and getting caught on yet another journey is very special to me.
So here is a list of books I would love to take on this trip but that still have to be negotiated with my husband. He will probably try to persuade me to leave most behind as I will want to buy more on the way. Anyway, I will read them all this summer, on the road or not.
Photography is becoming more and more of a passion. If, like me, you love photography and you are looking for new ideas, better ways to improve your skills and learn with the best, then you have to get The Photographer’s Playbook edited by Jason Fulford and Gregory Halpern. I started it and it is amazing! You have the advice and knowledge of the best photographers in the world packed in one book. It is so inspiring and it really makes you want to get out there and photograph but with new and creative approaches.
If you have accompanied my journey since I started this blog, you know what food represents to me and how through cooking I like to explore different flavours and cultures. Having lived in the Middle East has increased my interest for the markets, spices and combination of flavours in this region. But I haven’t been to the Maghreb yet. I have only travelled there through books. You often tend to overlook what is near in favor of more distant lands because you convince yourself you can do it anytime.
As my husband was in the Maghreb recently, he looked very carefully to bring me something he knew I would love. A cooking book which is also a memoir of family, tradition, culture, smells and tastes. This is my favourite type of cookbook. It is also a love story. Through HIS amazing photographs and HER heritage, you embark on a very special culinary and travel journey through Morocco that starts with their wedding in Marrakesh. I have stolen a few moments to read it but there is so much more to explore. I can’t wait to try the recipes as well. I’m talking about Colour of Maroc by Rob & Sophia Palmer.
And if you feel you want to stay in Morocco a little while longer, I would suggest a book I already read a few years ago and loved called The Caliph’s House. It is an account of the Anglo-Afghan writer Tahir Shah’s moving to Casablanca and restoring a decrepit old palace to make it his and his family’s home. It is very funny and entertaining, just the right book to read on vacation.
As I’m living in Austria and Vienna, I thought I should read something related to it but this time fiction. The first one is by a young Austrian author born in Vienna called Eva Menasse. I discovered her book Vienna by chance. I only read a few pages but I like her style. It is the story of a half Jewish family who gets separated by the Nazi invasion and its members end up in different parts of the world. The book follows their story in Europe, America and Asia.
The second one is by one of my favourite authors William Boyd. I must have read all his books. His brilliant writing gets you hooked every time. I thought that it was very appropriate that this novel is also set in Vienna. Waiting for Sunrise is the story of Lysander Rief, a British citizen who arrives in Vienna in 1913 to be treated for a secret ailment which I won’t give away as I’m half way the book already. Later he gets caught by the events that lead to World War I and becomes involved in the world of secret intelligence, deception and betrayal. It is much more than a spy novel and I can’t recommend enough his previous books as well.
Speaking of fiction and favorite authors I had also bought a few months ago David Mitchell’s latest novel The Bone Clocks which was long listed for the Man Booker prize. I am really looking forward to starting it. It follows the central character Holly Sykes into a saga that ranges from the 1980’s in England to the apocalyptic future. I can’t wait to start it.
I end this selection with an entertaining, light, non fiction book by Mireille Guiliano. Some of you may have read or heard of her book “French Women don’t get Fat”. That book helped me at the time to get back to my normal weight and my European healthy eating habits. This after having been carried away by all the great Mexican food I was having when I lived in Mexico.
Now she is back with French Women don’t get Facelifts. Basically it teaches you how to age gracefully and in style. It covers all ages and subjects like diet, lotions, style and even advice on how to keep friendships and romance alive. A perfect beach and vacation reading in my opinion.
These are just a few suggestions, feel free to comment or recommend your choices. I usually read several books at the same time and always according to my mood. And I always try to buy my books at independent bookshops. It is a way of supporting them so that they can survive for our pleasure.
Have a great summer and happy reading!