Reading on the train

I’ve been traveling a lot lately and yesterday was no different. I decide that to make my life easier, I’d take the train to a meeting in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, a winter storm made east coast travel difficult so I spent the afternoon waiting in line but ultimately got on the coveted train. It was crowded but I found an open seat, right next to a person who was reading a very big book. It was a pleasant ride to Philadelphia, snow and all.

Defying all logic, I decided to see if I could hop an early train home instead of spending the night, as a rational person would. Obviously, I enjoy unpleasant travel situations. Once more, I found a seat next to a reader. He was reading on a tablet, but hey, he was reading.

You may notice a pattern — yes, I actively search for people reading when looking for a seat on the train. I find they make better company. No offense to anyone but I’m not one for small talk in tight spaces.

On the final leg of the trip from Baltimore to DC, the conductor in my car smiled at me and said, “You see a lot of people reading, but not real books anymore. It’s all those fancy ebooks now.”

I smiled back and said, “I have a soft spot for the paper kind.”

“Nothing beats the feel of a real book in your hands,” she said.

We nodded and smiled. She was so right.

My book of choice was Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield. I’m enjoying it. It’s very different from The Thirteenth Tale, which I loved, but I’m remembering what a great storyteller she is with this one.

I’m also slowly making my way through Doctor Who: The Essential Guide which was a great birthday gift.

Now that my class is over, I’m planning to start dwindling the TBR and writing some reviews. Yes, I have lots to write about.

My Favorite Reads – The Sex Lives of Cannibals

Alyce from At Home With Books features one of her favorite reads each Thursday and this week my pick is…

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift on the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals

From the back cover: At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost – who has been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs – decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better. The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious tale of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish – all in a country where the only music to be head for miles around is “La Macarena.” He and his stalwart girlfriend, Sylvia, spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity for food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life).

I haven’t read many travelogue type books but, of all the ones I have read, this one was probably the funniest. Troost takes situations that would make most people what to run (and possibly cry) and turns them into very funny stories. I remember laughing out loud while reading this book. Now, if you’re looking for something that’s going to give you a history of the island, it’s natives, etc. this probably isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a funny book that recounts a new living experience on the part of the author, this one’s a good read. When I finished, I can’t say that I added Kiribati to my list of places I would like to visit in this world, but it did make me want to travel.

My Favorite Reads – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Alyce from At Home With Books features one of her favorite reads each Thursday and this week my pick is based on a recent trip.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

From the back cover: Genteel society ladies who compare notes on their husbands’ suicides. A hilariously foul-mouthed black drag queen. A voodoo priestess who works her roots in the graveyard at midnight. A morose inventor who owns a bottle of poison powerful enough to kill everyone in town. A prominent antiques dealer who hangs a Nazi flag from his window to disrupt the shooting of a movie. And a redneck gigolo whose conquests describe him as a walking “streak of sex.”

I spent last weekend in Savannah, GA. Let me re-phrase that — I spent about 48 hours in Savannah, GA last week. It was a work trip and because of other commitments, I didn’t get to spend more time but luckily this wasn’t my first trip. Let me tell you, the city is a charmer. It’s a beautiful place in the spring. This year the flowers are a few weeks behind and everyone seemed to be waiting — some patiently, some not — for the azaleas to bloom. I didn’t have my usual chance to wander the city, explore the squares, and take in the flowers in the gardens but there’s something about Savannah that always makes me happy.

Anyway, my short trip made me think about this book and that’s how I ended up deciding to feature it this week. It’s a non-fiction, true crime travelogue which may sound like a very odd way to describe a book but that’s what it is. The writer goes to Savannah to write about a murder but ends up meeting and getting involved with some of the city’s most peculiar residents. It’s perverse, funny, and addicting.

As a bonus, if you ever visit Savannah, you can tour all the sites where the movie was filmed. (It’s featured on a tour and I know this because the tour was going by while I was walking and this is how I learned this fact without having to take the tour.) I wish I could find my old photos to share but no luck this morning. You’ll just have to visit the city itself, read the book, or watch the movie.