What am I going to read for two weeks in Asia? Along with walking shoes and intestinal medication, reading material is up there on my packing list. A guidebook of course…I chose the Lonely Planet Tibet, plus back copies of the New Yorker. But books are the thing I most enjoy about long flights.
I prefer my books on paper, but with space at a premium, I’m pressing my Kindle into service. That way I can easily buy more if want. The four books I read in two weeks:
Gentlemen and Players, by Joanne Harris. A British murder mystery of the twisty variety. I kept scratching my head trying to figure out what was going on, until finally…boffo…the secret is revealed.
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. “My name is August…I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” Ten year-old Auggie goes to school, for the very first time, since severe facial anomalies have kept him home-schooled and sheltered until now. Told from the point-of-view of Auggie and his friends, Wonder is a sophisticated children’s novel that can be enjoyed by all ages.
To a Mountain in Tibet, by Colin Thubron. Following the death his mother, his last surviving family member, British travel writer Colin Thubron undertakes an arduous trek in Tibet to the solitary holy, and unclimbed, mountain of Kailas. The story is timely for me, reading about the very territory I’ve been observing. He is vivid and unsparing about both scenery and emotions. Reading his description of a “sky funeral,” the most sacred funerary form in Tibet…in which junipers are burned to call the holy vultures who devour the body…makes me glad that my friends were unable to arrange a viewing of a sky funeral. No foreigners allowed.
Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, by Sharon Salzberg. A lovely, loving, and best of all, practical, book on kindness and happiness. “Consider how the sky is unharmed by the clouds that pass through it, whether they are light and fluffy-looking or dark and formidable. A mountain is not moved by the winds blowing over it, whether gentle or fierce.” Useful exercises, much to think about, and for me, long plane rides in which to think…
Although I had definitely NOT planned it this way, most interesting to me is the arc of the book choices. The first mystery, is a usual choice, my book club’s selection for April. Wonder is a departure from my usual reading…the sophisticated children’s book is awakening and expanding. The Tibet travelogue is timely and on point, takes me far from home.
Lovingkindness brings it….and me….all together.
Sometimes magic happens when you aren’t paying attention.