Every peregrine has it’s aery. Or at eagles do, peregrines have nests I suppose. Only in the case of this peregrine even the aery was used for travel purposes. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve always been an armchair traveler.  Make that a curl-in-bed or sofa type of traveler. In fact, long years before I ever took to trains, planes and automobiles (or boats and buses) to get me from place A – current residence – to place B – vacation spot, but more often than not summer or semester sojourn – by my own initiation (as opposed to my parents’) I was addicted to books and the travels of the mind and imagination that they brought with them. And remain addicted to this day. What I find odd is that despite this lifelong addiction  (one that arguablydates back even earlier than my other one with all matter edible) I have not blogged about it. Oh, I always meant to. Using occasional posts to write reviews of various books that I read, but somehow I haven’t. I’m hastening to remedy the situation.

Where to begin? At the beginning? With my favorite? The problem is I don’t think I can single out any particular book even within a single genre. And as for the beginning? Which book would I characterize as the first? I know for sure that my parents read to me, and also know from their teasing me about it until I was into my teens that I sobbed and sobbed at the end of the Ugly Duckling (despite its happy turning-into-a-swan ending) because I was upset at the memory of how the poor thing was treated when still ugly. Apparently I didn’t cry during the event, only from the memory of it, after the story was over and everyone was living happily ever after.  But the first book I have an absolutely clear memory of reading all by myself is an Enid Blyton book about this doll called Amelia Jane. “Naughty Amelia Jane” or “Amelia Jane Again” I can’t remember exactly which. But I do have this clear memory of finding this book – for some reason I know for certain this was not a book that belonged to me or one that I borrowed – in the first house that we lived in after moving to Chandigarh when I was about 5  or 5 1/2 years old. And there began my love affair with Ms. Blyton, one that lasted well into early adolescence, and echoes of which reverberate to this day. To illustrate the staying power of my loyalties to those that I love – one of my first major buys after arriving here in Egypt two years ago (without going into details, lets just say I’m certainly not 5 anymore) was the entire set of the Famous Five adventure stories by Ms. Blyton, ostensibly for my niece, who at the time was on the brink of 10. And over the course of that weekend I had re-read them all. In sequence, beginning to end like I’d never had the chance as a kid.

I’ll go into details later but here are some picks of authors – old friends and brand new ones too that I’ve loved and lived with over the years:

P.G. Wodehouse – anything but especially the Empress of Blandings books; Saki; Alistair MacLean, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, L.M. Montgomery (of the Anne of Green Gables fame), another L.M. ((Louisa May?) Alcott whose works I must have discovered earlier, Paul Scott, Gerald Durrell and many years later his brother Larry (ooops Lawrence, of the Alexandria Quartet), the evergreen J. R. R. Tolkien, Fairy tales named for every color of the rainbow and then some, TinTin, Asterix etc. etc. etc. And this is only a fraction, of  fiction at that. Another category included encyclopedias (I love Britannica so much that I even succumbed however briefly to the temptation of a salesman and bought the entire damn series on an impoverished graduate student budget. Of course when they arrived I came to my senses and returned them !!!! ) There was a second-hand set of geographical ones that may still be in my parents home in India, of which for some reason, the one on Scandinavia exerted a grip on my imagination.

I am always looking to expand my horizons so any suggestions will be gladly and gratefully accepted. Until next time, happy travels all.


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