Books for traveling

Well, I haven’t done a pooterish, list-y, rambling kind of post in a while, and since I’m feeling fatigued after getting practically no sleep last night and don’t want to think too hard, this evening seems like a good time for one. I’d like to post on Seneca again, and also on Dale Spender, but those posts will have to wait. I suffer insomnia only occasionally, but when I do, it really knocks me down hard. I desperately need my sleep! And hours and hours and hours of it!

So, I’m going away this weekend. I’ll be heading to Albuquerque to attend a conference. This should be fun, right? It’s a literary conference, and I’ll be presenting a paper of my own and listening to other people read theirs; we’ll all be talking about books and learning new things and generally having fun.

Except I hate conferences. I can’t tell you how much I’d prefer to stay home. I don’t like presenting papers of my own — the whole process makes me nervous. I don’t like listening to other people’s papers because I don’t listen well, being an extremely visual person. And I don’t like the feeling that I should be mingling, meeting people, making connections, and generally impressing people with my brilliance, instead of skulking about in my hotel room watching television, which is what I generally do.

So I’ll cheer myself up by thinking about what books I might possibly bring with me. I should be ready to begin a new novel or two, and maybe a new nonfiction book. So what sounds good?

  • I just mooched Margaret Forster’s novel Lady’s Maid, which Litlove recently wrote about; it’s about Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s maid Elizabeth Wilson and their vexed relationship. It’s long and looks fun — perfect for airports, maybe?
  • I’ve been in the mood for another long 18C or 19C novel, especially after reading about so many interesting authors from Dale Spender’s book, so perhaps Sophia Lee’s The Recess, subtitled “A Tale of Other Times”? Here’s what Amazon says: “First published in an era when most novels about young women concentrated on courtship and ended with marriage, The Recess (1783-1785) daringly portrays women involved in political intrigues, overseas journeys, and even warfare. The novel is set during the reign of Elizabeth I and features twin narrators, who are daughters of Mary, Queen of Scots, by a secret marriage. One of the earliest novels to convey the plot from multiple points of view, it was wildly popular in its day.” Sounds good, doesn’t it?
  • But I need to make sure I have some comfort reading with me; I might need to be cheered up if my paper presentation doesn’t go well. I’ve got an Alison Lurie novel on my shelves, The Last Resort; she’s always good for a smart, entertaining read.
  • And for nonfiction? I have a couple short things that would work, books I could possibly finish during the long plane ride, such as Gabriel Zaid’s So Many Books or Elizabeth Hardwick’s collection of essays Seduction and Betrayal. Long nonfiction books probably wouldn’t work, as I might tire of them, but these would be perfect.
  • Oh, and I have to bring the book I’m presenting on, of course, just in case I want to remind myself of some of the details; it’s this one, Sarah Fielding’s The Adventures of David Simple.


Filed under Books, Life

11 responses to “Books for traveling

  1. hepzibah

    You are going to a conference! How exciting! I had so much fun, when I went last semester….I am sure your paper is brillant and you deserve to show off your brillance for once! 🙂

    It is a wonderful chance to impart what you have learned to the world and to meet other people and explore new territory and wonderful tasting food…


  2. I feel exactly the same way you do about conferences. Luckily, I never have to present papers, which would make them even worse. Meanwhile, a long 18th-century novel (given the state of air travel these days and the need to be prepared to have something that lasts when you’re stuck in an airport for twelve hours) sounds like a good choice, and The Recess sounds really good.


  3. I could never be a professor as I get far too nervous talking in front of people (I am also lousy at the whole networking/socializing thing)–but I am sure you are going to be wonderful! You’ll have to let us know how it goes! As for books–it sounds like you have a good selection. I have the Forster book on my pile, too, and was happy to see Litlove give it a thumbs up. I hope you get some sleep, too!


  4. I hate insomnia. I hope you get some decent sleep so you can feel better.
    I’m not too big on conferences and work events either but you know what I love, choosing the books to take on the plane. My favorite part. I hope you also get some free time and maybe you can go scope out some bookstores 🙂
    I loved Lady’s Maid so hope you enjoy it!


  5. The thing that always astonishes me about talking to people who read is that, even if you read all the time, it’s astonishing how little overlap there sometimes is in reading lists. But I guess that’s where new reading lists spring from.


  6. verbivore

    Oh, I am coveting that Hardwick book. Will probably have to break down and order it instead of waiting for a bookmooch copy (as my library does not have it).
    Forced networking (even if it’s with people who presumable share your literary interests) isn’t something I enjoy either – but I hope you like the conference!


  7. Your list of books is delicious. The Recess sounds like quite a lot of fun. I hope the conference goes well. Good luck delivering your paper!


  8. Good luck delivering your paper – I’m sure you will do well. I know what you mean about conferences. i actually just recently decided to attend AWP again but I’m hoping this time, since I have a solid sense of my career goals and my writing life, I won’t be quite so freakishly overwhelmed and freaked out.


  9. The very best of luck with the paper, Dorothy! Oh boy do I know how you feel about conferences! I like to skulk in my room too, and tend not to go to them unless I have a good friend who likes to nick off with me and go shopping…. They bring out the worst in me, in fact, watching all those other people scurry around being super-keen whilst I’m feeling disengaged, bored and a little homesick. But you never know, every once in a while you meet a fun new person or hear some really inspiring piece of research, and I am sure your paper will be wonderful. Take a couple of the books – a juicy novel and the Hardwick, which gives you hope that writing about literature can be quirky and funny and uplifting. And tell us all about it when you get back.


  10. Thank you Hepzibah — I’m trying to get excited about it, but I really don’t like conferences! Perhaps when I arrive, I’ll feel more excitement …

    Emily — I’ll make certain to have something long on hand — long and not too taxing. If I weren’t presenting a paper, this conference would be so much more fun, I think …

    Thank you Danielle; I can get quite nervous talking in front of others — teaching doesn’t feel like public speaking to me anymore, I’m so used to it, but giving papers does make me nervous!

    Iliana — isn’t choosing airport books so much fun! I’m glad to hear you liked Lady’s Maid so much; it makes me even more eager to get to it.

    Waltzingaustralia — I like reading lists where some things are familiar, so I know I share some similarities with the other reader, but that has some new things too, so I can add to my own list.

    Thank you Verbivore; I think I was quite lucky to find the Hardwick book on Book Mooch — often I miss the good stuff, but this time I lucked out!

    Thank you Stefanie; it’ll probably go okay, but I do get so nervous beforehand!

    Courtney — feeling overwhelmed is the worst; I’ve gone to enough conferences now to know not to get freaked out — experience does help!

    Litlove — oh, that’s exactly it, I feel disengaged, bored, and homesick too. I’ll be sure to give a full report on my return!


  11. Make sure to get out of the hotel and eat some BBQ. We stayed around the corner from an awesome BBQ place when we were there several years ago. The interceding years have blotted the name of the place from my brain, but it was a Texas chain, and it was filled with fat, happy-looking meat eaters (but I would imagine that this describes most any quality ‘Q joint).

    Since it doesn’t sound like you’ll have your bike, take the tram, which scales a huge ridge to the east of town. That’s all for my tourist recommendations. Have fun!


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