Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Holiday Reading

After an absence of some three and a half years I have again returned to the land of my parents birth―the Blue Zone island, Ikaria, in the Aegean Sea, where I plan to spend the bulk of my four month extended vacation from my normal place of residence in Adelaide, Australia.

One thing that surely occupies the mind of most travellers on extended trips is how to fill their time in between all the fun bits associated with travel (eating, partying, visiting attractions and landmarks and other such diversions), not forgetting the not so fun bits―like the hours spent in transit or in actual travel between distant destinations. The best way to fill what can often turn out to be hours of down time is of course, reading.

Quite frankly, I’m a sucker for books. I can never walk past a bookshop without at least pausing to look in at the windows to see what new titles have been released, or if passing a second hand bookshop, stopping to see what books the owner has chosen to feature in the window display. It is a rare event to see me walk by a bookshop without walking inside to at least browse the crowded shelves and books on offer.

At the end of my last visit to Ikaria, early in February 2011, I left behind* a small carry-on cabin-sized case filled with surplus clothing and a collection of books I had bought during my visit to New York City during August 2010. Now that I am back on the island, I am reacquainting myself with the contents of the suitcase, having forgotten most of what was in it over the ensuing three or so years.

The image illustrating this post shows all eleven books that have waited patiently in that case for my return. Thankfully, I did read a couple of them on my previous trip, but the rest await their turn to be read during my leisure hours. Eight of the books have a direct focus on New York City, and since I won’t be returning there until next year, I am looking forward to reading them as a way to keep the fire burning in my heart for that great metropolis.

I’m particularly looking forward to reading A Freewheelin’ Time by Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan’s muse during the early years of his career. That’s Suze Rotolo walking arm in arm with Dylan down a New York City street on the cover of his 1963 album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. I am also champing at the bit to begin Joseph Mitchell’s classic collection of New York stories, Up In The Old Hotel. Mitchell (July 27, 1908 - May 24, 1996) was best known for the work he published in The New Yorker. Many of his wonderfully written portraits of eccentrics and people on the fringes of New York City life are reprinted in this book.

But enough of this writing and anticipating―it’s way past the time that I pulled a comfortable chair out onto the sun deck, and cracked open the covers of A Freewheelin’ Time, and started reading.

*”I left behind…” One of the advantages of having family far from home is the ability to leave some items of clothing or other excess baggage with them when you return home. The obvious disadvantage of course, is that you may not get access to these items (as in my case), for several years.

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