Monday, March 25, 2013

What to read on holiday

I read a lot, especially when I am on holiday. Reading is just a part of my holiday and a holiday without reading is no real holiday for me. Also when I am travelling around and spend a big part of my day on moving, sight-seeing, visiting interesting sites and museums, and – not to forget – on making photos, there is always time for a book. However, on holiday I read other stuff than I do at home. What do I read then? Usually not philosophy but if I do it’s on philosophical subjects that are different from what I normally read. But I read history, for instance; a lot of history. Sometimes I read a novel and further anything else for which I don’t have time when I am at home or that I simply failed to read there. The books may have a relation to the region or town I visit, but often they haven’t.
I also buy books on holiday. I cannot pass a bookshop without at least taking a glance at what they sell. It’s very interesting to see what people elsewhere read and what makes the place I visit interesting in the eyes of the inhabitants. And, of course, often I don’t leave the shop with empty hands. Not uncommonly I buy something philosophical, something that’s difficult to get in my own town, or something that attracts my attention. In a strange bookshop you always find interesting books that you can’t buy at home or just failed to see there.
Lately during a weekend trip in my country, I bought something in a local bookshop, and, because it was Book Week, I got also a free book written by the Dutch author Kees van Kooten. Back in my holiday home, I opened it and immediately my eye was caught by this text:
“Who reads other books than local or regional publications when on holiday offends not only the local culture of the destination chosen but wastes moreover his precious holiday time”.
Actually, I should have brought the book back to the shop, for this free book had no relation at all with the town I visited, nor did the book I had bought. As just said, most books I read on holiday have no relation to the region I visit, and even less so I read local or regional publications. But is the quotation true? I think that it shows quite a limited view on why it is that we are on holiday. And I can say that since just I go often to rather unknown regions hardly visited by any tourist or it must be a lost Dutchman. Just for getting an impression how a country is like outside the well-trodden tourist paths.
You can be on holiday for many reasons and getting to know another region and going into the local culture is only one of them. Many people go on holiday for relaxing, lying on the beach or simply being away from work and home in an exotic or at least different environment. If they come back home mentally and physically fit and well, the holiday is a success. Then local culture is simply a decoration that makes such a holiday more effective; it’s not something you really need to know about. Other people go on holiday for visiting museums and places of cultural or historical interest. Or for practicing sport under circumstances they cannot do at home, like cycling in the mountains for Dutchmen. I can list many other reasons for taking a holiday, but I think that my point is clear: whether reading something different than local or regional publications is a waste of time depends on the reason why you are there. And often one goes on holiday for a mixture of reasons. For me, one of them is just reading the stuff that I didn’t get round to read at home. And be sure, if I am back from a trip to the unknown interior of this or that country, I know a lot of its local or regional culture, characteristics and curiosities, even though I have read a lot that has no relation to it.


Fasulye said...

I don't go often enough on holidays to find a pattern of what I like to read. And one reason to go on holidays you haven't mentioned in your list, is to practise your foreign languages. When I was on holidays I always liked to buy a popular science magazine in a foreign language and read in it. And nowadays I would rather take my crossword puzzles (in German and Dutch) with me to train my brain in between.

HbdW said...

Hello Fasulye,
Thank you for your reaction. There are many reasons to go on holiday and there are many things you can do and read then. In this blog I could mention only some. I just wanted to say that it's not necessary to keep yourself busy with the local culture and that this doesn't imply then that you offend the local culture.