Book Club / People

Deputy Editor Andréa Tchacos’s holiday reads

Firopotamos, Milos, Greece.

Every time I go away, I pack too much. Not least when it comes to holiday reads. While my tendency to hit the weight limit is a curse in the wardrobe department – a layer of un-ironed, unworn pieces lining my case – at least there’s good reason for all the books. Such an uninterrupted expanse of time brings opportunity to open one’s mind. To truly get lost in a story, as well as new surrounds. And once I start I can’t stop – hence the sizeable stack. No, a Kindle isn’t the same. You can’t comfortably leave it on a beach towel.

As with any trip, the days prior to my last getaway saw me trawling Kinokinuya for books that had long been on my list. The result isn’t exactly ‘something for everyone’. On reflection, I have a penchant for memoirs. But within these holiday reads you will find inspiration for living, for loving, even inspiration for working (stay with me) and for drinking and dining on a budget (cc young Hemingway).

The holiday read that’s an enabler for indulgence …
Is Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. This is particularly applicable for, but not limited to, those visiting Paris. Descriptions of the wine list at La Pêche Miraculeuse intermingle with literary gossip – his friendship with Gertrude Stein and the sex tips he allegedly gave F. Scott Fitzgerald. Some of the advice is very good: “You can either buy clothes or buy pictures.” (as asserted by Stein) and “Never travel with anyone you do not love.”

The acclaimed first novel …
I have a tendency to reach for ‘the classics’ before modern bestsellers so I picked up Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry in the interest of balance. The New York Times named it one of the 10 best books of 2018. But anecdotal feedback from friends implied the gender dichotomy in the first third made it difficult to get through the first few pages. My advice is stick it out for wry satisfaction in the way it all comes together. However – having seen the backstory – I haven’t been able to pick up anything by Phillip Roth post reading this.

 

The read that will inspire you to slow down (and take a pilgrimage) …
It is a rare privilege to gain insight into the mind of an artist in the vulnerable stages of creation. If that artist is Patti Smith – and her 2015 memoir M Train – prepare for dreamscapes, candid descriptions of creative block and vivid remembrances of times past. If you’re the adventurous type the pilgrimages within will inspire your travelling agenda for years to come. If not, you’ll want to go to New York at the very least.

The aspirational read you’ll ‘save for next trip’ …
There’s always one. And no disrespect to Mr Proust, but I’ve been lugging around In Search of Lost Time on various trips for the better part of a year without traversing the first chapter. Next time.

Avlaki, Hydra, Greece.

“Never travel with anyone you do not love: always travel with Joan Didion.”

The old faithful …
Never travel with anyone you do not love: (and) always travel with Joan Didion. Within pages of The White Album one can find her thoughts on Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Manson and the death of the 60s, not to mention her famed packing list (page 34). While handy on the precipice of a trip, Didion’s works give me motivation to come back, to work, to write. That the real world (or a version of it) might be shaped into words – as Didion does so devastatingly well – is surely one of its silver linings. You know, we tell ourselves stories in order to live.

Kleftiko, Milos.
Firopotamos, Milos.

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