Small Salvation

Four days into my 20-day trip to South America, I realised that I have made the biggest, rookiest, most unforgiveable mistake: instead of taking my own advice that there’s no such thing as too many books, and loading up and weighing down my bag big time with paperbacks I’ll never have time to read, I forced myself to bring just two.

The result? I’ve finished one and am three quarters of the way through the second. I would have finished the latter by now but for forcing myself to eek out the last quarter as the panic of impending booklessness sets in.

I do know that Murphy’s Law dictates that had I packed extra books, I’d never have read them. But because I didn’t, I have. I’ll finish my second book tonight—there’s no way I can spread it any more thinly and I have neither the ability nor the willpower to pace myself—and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to get through the remaining 15 days.

The irony, of course, is that I have a 30-plus book backlog awaiting me back in Brisvegas and I’m kicking myself for not bringing at least a few of those said backlog books. I have also thought seriously about ordering up big from this good book store and begging Clayton to send a care package express international, but I also realise that I’m both travelling too much and that even sent express, any package would only arrive pretty much as I’m leaving South America.

So it’s with more than a little relief and a lot of excitement that I stumbled across a gorgeous café/bookshop in Santiago. All the books are in Spanish, which no more diminishes the desire to buy and read them, albeit which is hampered by my increasingly and embarrassingly apparent inability to master even the most basic Spanish.

The bookshop discovery doesn’t solve my impending no-books-to-read issue (and no, the hostel I’m staying at doesn’t have a book swap regime on the go, because trust me, I’d be pillaging it right now if it did), but the mere proximity of the books has helped me recover some of that temporarily depleted zen. The boon too is that such an inability to read Spanish is a blessing for my already overwrought credit card and my luggage-lugging back.

So, I don’t have any extra books to read, but I do have the comfort of books’ proximity. That small salvation is enough for now, but if you happen to know anyone travelling through South America who’s willing to loan me books, that’d also be completely tops.

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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.