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Essential Reading

One of the week’s questions is: what is essential? Brent and I leave for Sweden on Sunday, so it is time to determine what I can’t live without for two weeks.

Actually, I already know the answer, having spent two weeks in Europe with Syd, but no luggage. (The luggage missed the connecting flight and only caught up to us when we arrived home. It didn’t say whether it ditched us on purpose or whether it had a good time. It preserved a sullen silence to go with its new grime and sticker remnants. Damn teenagers!) It is quite possible to manage with the clothes one wore on the airplane and the books and such from the carryon bag. I bought deodorant and a toothbrush and toothpaste and a razor. Eventually, Syd and I acquired a few more clothes and spent slightly less time in the evenings washing out our things and hoping for dryness by morning. In London, my mom insisted that we buy fancier things to go to the theater, but even so, by the end of the trip all our clothes and souvenirs fit tidily in one (new) small duffel bag. We had a great time.

Due to certain important limiting factors (read: underwear), I will have to do laundry at some point during the trip in any case. This gives me license to pack lightly. I can bring one dressy outfit and wear it over again. I will try to limit myself to three pairs of shoes, one for the gym, one for regular wear and one for going out, but I may decide that one pair of flip flops are worth the small space they occupy in the suitcase. Unless I’d rather take another book instead.

See, the books are the truly indispensible part, particularly since I don’t happen to speak or read Swedish. I know it is possible to acquire books in English while I’m gone, but I would rather be prepared. The question is how to pick the right books. Preferably paperbacks. Engaging, but not too heavy. Not too light either: I don’t think that most of the kid books I have on my to-read shelf will take long enough to read to justify my bringing them. I think I may finally read Moby Dick, since I have it in paperback, rescued from one of my mother’s book purges (She didn’t keep it because it does not have a pretty binding.) but not yet read. Maybe some of the Mark Twain that belonged to my grandfather, since I haven’t read much more than Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I have a big thick book of poems on my shelf, but I’m not sure about bringing it along. Poetry works well for waiting, in that it comes in small bites, but I don’t really like to curl up and read a hundred pages of poetry in an evening.

It’s going to be a fun search through the bookshelves for the right things.



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June 2012
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