No Book Left Behind

Fifty ShamesI’m heading to Mexico City this Friday. It’s hosting this year’s Homeless World Cup (HWC), to which I take my annual pilgrimage. Which means I’ve done the only things rational: no packing whatsoever, but plenty of agonising over which books to take for the trip.

I don’t yet own an ereader, not because I’m against them (in fact, I’m wholly for them as yet another and complementary opportunity to fit more reading into our lives), but because Apple haven’t yet released one. Sadly, I’m not even kidding.

I’ve found the existing ereaders by non-Apple companies not well-enough designed functionally and in terms of being pretty. And don’t even get me started on the difficulties of region-specific availability and being locked into certain file types or not-author-or-reader-friendly online behemoth bookstores.

Apple-versus-the-rest-of-the-world arguments aside, I’m tossing up between taking which and how many of the following physical books.

(In case you can’t see them clearly, they from left to right include: I Lost My Love in Baghdad, Bossypants, Desert Flower, The Elephant Whisperer, The Coke Machine, Madlands, Silent Spring, Call of the Weird, and Behind The Beautiful Forevers. Fifty Shames of Earl Grey is on backorder and I’ll not deny that I’m hoping and praying it arrives before Friday.)

As I well-documented (read: moaned) at the time, I foolishly took the rational, weight- and spacing-saving option of packing too few books to the 2010 HWC, then spent three quarters of the trip with my sad face pressed up against the glass of bookstores that sold books I, in my non-Spanish- and non-Portuguese-speaking incapacity, couldn’t read.

I also spent considerable time hatching plans to order an ereader to be shipped to me, with the only thing preventing my purchase was that I couldn’t be certain of the delivery timing and I was moving around. Ugliness, availability issues, and locked-in formats and stores be damned, I’d have paid anything for any books in any format I could read at all.

I Lost My Love In BaghdadWhich is a long-winded way of saying that I’m prepared to sacrifice underpants and other essentials in order to ensure my luggage is choc full of books. But even I know the above are too many. I’m only going for two weeks and they’re two 18-hour-days-of-work weeks. One or two or three of these books need to go.

The question is: Which ones? Every fibre of my being is screaming in the ultimate cliche: No book left behind.

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.