So which authors do you book time with when you’re on the move?
I might forget my clothes, but never a thriller, memoir or, if I have little energy, collection of short stories
Packing for a holiday is such a first-world problem. Even more so now. I know that, but I am a Type A, head-girl person, filled with travel anxiety, and one who thinks about what goes into the suitcase from the moment the plans are made to the minute the case is placed on the conveyor belt at the airport check-in.
I must confess, though, that sometimes I am not great. Once, on a midweek getaway for Gman’s birthday in The Cradle a few years ago, I only packed one T-shirt and a few pants. So there I was, on the hot-air balloon with a glass of champagne at sunrise, in my black-and-white polka-dot tee and leggings; and there I was, at Roots restaurant, in my polka-dot tee with smart pants eating a fancy-schmancy meal. I felt like Jack Reacher, who only travels with a toothbrush in his back pocket and buys a single T-shirt to wear in whichever town he finds himself in. I have only worn that polka-dot tee once since then.
So now I use Marie Kondo’s method - go to konmari.com/how-to-konmari-a-suitcase/. Her advice is practical, yet the joy-checking part always makes me snigger. In this case it’s true, however – only pack joy!
Which makes sense when it comes to packing books. I always have a few e-books as backup, but I would rather take physical books, even if they do take up precious T-shirt space. Obviously not hardcovers, but there is a gorgeous hard copy just begging to be read, Miss Dior by Justine Picardie, about Christian Dior’s beloved sister Catherine, his muse.
But, le sigh, for this work trip I could only take three books as I knew I didn’t have much time to read. The one thing I hate is being stranded without a good book. I had plenty of first-grade choices. I always pack a solid airport thriller in my hand luggage. This time it was Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda, about a couple of murders in a small neighbourhood. The person convicted, Ruby Fletcher, comes back to the town after a mistrial to figure out who the killer really is.
Second is a brilliant memoir. I didn’t sleep much after I started Cult Following: My Escape and Return to The Children of God by Bexy Cameron. Books about cults seem to be more prevalent these days. Maybe it’s because we are again at a juncture of figuring out what a community really is.
This memoir comes out swinging. Cameron, a survivor of The Children of God cult, does not only cover her horrific story about child abuse, but now, as an adult, she purposefully travels to different cults around the US looking for answers to why people become involved in these closed communities. Her confrontations with her neglectful, awful parents leave the reader gobsmacked.
When I want to read, but have little energy for anything too long, I turn to short stories. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with Best Crime Stories of the Year - Number 1 edited by Lee Child. In his foreword (do read it!) he writes: “And what a remarkable job the contributors to this volume have achieved. James Lee Burke has stated that this story is the best he’s ever written.” That was enough for me to immediately turn to page 77 (out of 456) to read Harbor Lights. After that I read If You Want Something Done Right by Sue Grafton and then Joyce Carol Oates’s Parole Hearing, California Institution for Women Chino, CA. The last one I read was The Fifth Step by Stephen King (of course). There are plenty more treasures in this compendium, which I will get to later. But first to unpack.