Am off Monday to the hills outside Guadalajara, back December 1. No phone, no computer, no electronics of any kind or size means I’ll be offline for two weeks. I’ll be hiking like a mountain goat, eating like a pig, and frolicking like a five-year-old. But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving my mind behind in Seattle. With my newly enhanced vision, I’ll be reading like crazy.
So what does an accidental theologist pack for such a trip? Here’s the list:
— Reza Aslan’s new anthology of Mideastern 20th-century literature, Tablet & Pen. A big, solid, juicy collection translated from Arabic, Turkish, Urdu, and Farsi. Some of the writers I already know, but many I do not. I’ve dipped into it already and know it’ll be a wonderful travel companion, equal parts exploration and pleasure.
— Two novels by the newly crowned Nobelist Maria Vargas Llosa: The Storyteller and (for the plane) Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.
— Four volumes of The History of al-Tabari (from a forty-volume translation of the great early Islamic historian) which I will re-read very closely, pen and notebook in hand, in the clear early-morning hours before breakfast.
— A novel by Luis Alberto Urrea called The Hummingbird’s Daughter, recommended by a friend. Might be a bit too magical-realist for me right now, but it’s set during the Mexican Revolution so into my suitcase it goes.
— A Teach Yourself Spanish book (file this one under good intentions that will probably come to naught).
— And then a toss-up as to the last selection: one of two classics — either Montaigne’s Essays, whose wit and elegance I dip into occasionally and have been telling myself for years I should read all the way through, or Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, the Victorian blockbuster satire of greed and concupiscence that is as contemporary now as it was 140 years ago. Maybe the Trollope’s the book to read on the plane trip back…
Until December — Lesley
I took Montaigne on a stay in an isolated Tibetan mediation centre once – and Montaigne won! Never without him now, in the shape of a fat, battered Penguin on my desk. But off you go with your Trollope if you must – have a great break anyway. Does your electronic cold turkey include digital cameras, or can we expect some photos when you get back? PS Loved your account of the ‘found’ photograph, there’s a short story in there somewhere…
Oops, now there’s a significant slip – I meant meditation centre of course.
Thanks C — That resolves my dilemma — Montaigne and Trollope are both coming with.
Darling, you surpass all my intellectual expectations! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.
Upon your return, twill be interesting to hear
which books were reached for but not started cause the scenery, sun, smells got to you first….
which books were started but languished early on cause they appealed in the rain of Seattle but drooped uder the suns of Mexico…
and which book(s) reached the “finished” line.
Hope you get sooooome time to just sit
Am reaching for Llosa here in the gray of England…
Sachiko Murata has an interesting book, titled “The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook of Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought,” which I have only partly read, but hope to complete sometime in the future.
I also hope to read “Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light” by the same author. From what little I’ve read Professor Murata’s work, I find the approach enlightening and interesting.