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The Mile-High Book Club

15 April, 2013

Today’s instalment is by Helen:

“I apologise for any factual and grammatical inaccuracies in this post – we’ve all been up since 5am, when we had to leave the hotel for the first ferry of the day back over to Vancouver.


“Watching the sun rise over the beautiful scenery of British Columbia was almost worth the early start – sadly no whale sightings this time, but we did spot a hummingbird buzzing around the deck.  Since it was another day of travel, this time involving two flights and a fair amount of driving as well as the ferry, it gave us all an opportunity to catch up on the reading material we’d all brought with us. I always find it interesting to keep tabs on ŵhat everyone’s reading and we all do a fair amount of book-swapping along the way. Here’s a quick rundown of what everyone’s got on the go at the moment.

“Eleanor is reading The Social Contract by Rousseau, which is a rather heavy-looking book about political philosophy. She’s studying for her exams in May for her part-time MA in Philosophy at Kings London, and this is on her reading list. I’m impressed at her ability to focus on note-taking after the busy few days we’ve had!

“Becky is STILL reading Wolf Hall but is very near the end now. Becky is a specialist in getting stuck in to weighty tomes which she manages to make last for several tours since she doesn’t get the time to read at home. I think she took most of a year to get through Bleak House!

“Emma hasn’t brought any books with her as she’s just invested in a swanky new iPad for this tour and is making the most of her new Kindle app. She’s downloaded a long book (perfect for a kindle!) by Haruki Murakami called 1Q84.

“Katie has just finished Sebastian Faulks’s On Green Dolphin Street, a novel based around the jazz clubs of the 1940s. She’s in the market to borrow someone else’s book now and I think Becky’s going to lend her Wolf Hall when she’s done with it, though personally I think this might be a cunning ploy from Becky to free up some space in her suitcase!

“Amy is obviously missing home, as she’s currently reading a novel called Pigeon English, a murder mystery set in a South London council estate.

“Tom is reading, and really enjoying, Snow falling on Cedars by David Guterson, which appropriately enough given our recent location, is set on an island off Seattle and is another murder mystery set in a Salmon fishing community.

“Andrew unfortunately managed to leave his Kindle on the plane on the way out here, which may be just as well as he’s got a lot of work to do. So he’s mainly been looking at scores of Tristan and Isolde and Wagner Dream by Jonathan Harvey, a good antidote to all the early tunes we’ve been singing!

“James tends to go for the classics, and so far on this trip has finished Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck and has moved on to Graham Greene’s The Burnt-out Case, a novel set in an African lepers colony, complete with gory descriptions of the effects of leprosy.

“Jim is probably the most voracious reader of the lot of us and has already finished two books on this tour, one of which was the excellent Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, a book about hermaphrodites and incest, which is much less weird than it sounds! He was planning to move on to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood but has had to put up with an unscheduled break after his suitcase, along with two others, was left in Minneapolis during our lay-over yesterday. Consequently he is currently reading the terms and conditions from Delta Airlines.

“Will isn’t much of a reader on tour, preferring to use the opportunity to catch up on box sets of DVDs. He’s already nearly finished Season 4 of The Wire, set in the mean streets of Baltimore, on this trip and is hoping to squeeze in Season 5 as well. He does watch it with the subtitles on though, so I suppose that counts as reading. This has led to more than a few quizzical glances from fellow fliers, given the language that pops up on it!

“Ben is reading a collection of short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He hasn’t got too stuck in yet, but so far it’s the most surreal and morbid thing he’s ever read – not great when you’ve only had three hours sleep and you’re on your third flight of the day…

“As for me, I tend to keep a few things on the go. I’m trying to learn Spanish, so I try and get through a chapter or two of my Spanish translation of Harry Potter (with the help of a well-thumbed dictionary). I’m also currently halfway through George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying. I do love a bit of George Orwell, although this one is fairly depressing reading! My favourite reading material in the States though is Skymall Magazine. They always have these in the planes and they’re filled with a load of stuff you never knew you wanted but suddenly can’t imagine life without. Here is this edition’s most ridiculous offering…”