Yesterday my book order arrived. This is the book I’ll read on holiday this Christmas. Yes, I plan in advance what I’m going to read on holiday.
We’re going on holiday to Sri Lanka. This book is set in Sri Lanka. This is not a coincidence. I prefer to read books set in my holiday destination, for several reasons. Now admittedly on this type of holiday where we’ll be moving around a bit and exploring all kinds of natural and cultural sights I won’t have a great deal of time to sit down and read, although there’ll be a few days at the beach towards the end of the holiday when I can relax. But when I do get a chance, I want to read something which is about the place I’m in.
Firstly because this is a way of learning more about the country I’m visiting. Fiction can often reveal aspects of a culture better than a guidebook. But the other, main reason is this: travel is an escape from my everyday life. I leave home behind and go to discover somewhere new. This is also what I do when I read. So it would seem a bit weird to go on holiday to an interesting new place and then to escape from there into another new place in the world of a book. I want to stay in Sri Lanka, even when I’m reading. It’s not like I’m going to go back regularly. So it makes sense to read a Sri Lankan book while I’m in Sri Lanka. I read Ulysses while I lived in Dublin; I read Don Quixote on holiday in Andalucia; I read Cannery Row in California.
How did I find this book? Well first I had a look on Tripfiction, which is a site specifically for helping you choose books based on their geographical setting. For Sri Lanka they featured a lot of Roma Tearne books, but I wanted a second opinion so I did some googling and came across a book blog called Chasing Bawa which specialises in Sri Lankan literature. I narrowed it down to two choices: the other was Cinnamon Gardens by Shyam Selvadurai, but in the end I decided I wanted something more contemporary and less colonial.
I’ll post my review on goodreads when I get back to let you know how it was. And I imagine I’ll post about other aspects of the trip too. The food, if nothing else.