I am planning my trip to London.
Two carry-on bags.
And a notebook.
I have a laid-back approach to vacations. I pretend I’m in a cottage, whether I’m in the country or a city. I get up late, go to the breakfast buffet or a cafe, drink a dozen cups of coffee, hold the map upside down for a while, scrawl notes on when to turn left and right, and then go out. I do not have a strict schedule. I might feel like a tour; I might feel like shopping. Then I go to a coffeeshop and that’s it for the day.
I do have one event planned. I bought a ticket to see Sebastian Barry at the Oxford Literary Festival. If I feel up to going (if the sun is shining…if I feel like taking the train), it will be exactly like “The Amazing Race”: I must take a train, then find my way around Oxford (by walking, bus, or a taxi; I’ll have to Google it), then take notes if I’m not too frazzled, and afterwards take a “tour-ette” (possibly guided) of Oxford. Do the students and dons still wear robes? No? I’d love them to look like Dorothy Sayers or Evelyn Waugh, but possibly they look more like Hugh Laurie or Rebecca Mead, author of the book I’m reading, My Life in Middlemarch.
Fortunately the train service is excellent between London and Oxford.
There are other writers I’d like to hear at the festival, but they’re all there on different days, so I regret I’ll have to pass: Still, if you want to, you can hear Ian McEwan, author of Atonement and Man Booker Prize winner; Peter Stothard, author of Alexandria: The Last Nights of Cleopatra, interviewing a writer I’ve never heard of; Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel winner, whose novel Snow I really loved;, and Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries and winner of the Man Booker Prize.
I have a long list of things to do in London.
Too many things.
But what notebook should I take?
I love to write about my vacations.
See the blue Apica paperback notebook labeled “Ideas for Blog”? Apparently I had no ideas for blog. I took a few notes when I went to Bess Streeter Aldrich’s house in Elmwood, Nebraska. (Her piano came on a steamboat and she embroidered her own luncheon cloths.) But what on earth did I mean by Fish Tank, The Third Man, Mother, Fallen Angels, Old Boy, & Mary & Max?
See the orange leatherette notebook? I bought it at Target while my husband was browsing in the sports equipment department. I love the magnetic snap: Close the notebook and you hear that wonderful noise. But it’s more a diary than a note-taking notebook.
Next up: A natty Miquelerius spiral, but perhaps too big for my purse.
Last one: an orange paperback Moleskine. Smallish, and except for a few notes on Swann’s Way, it’s empty.
Actually it’s between the Moleskine and the Apica.
And now: e-books vs. real books.
And I miss books.
I used to order print-on-demand books if my Mrs. Oliphant or George Meredith weren’t available used.
Now I buy e-books, or get them from manybooks.net.
I miss real books.
I was looking at my Balzac collection.
“Do we have A Harlot High and Low?” If I remember correctly, this is better than Zola’s Nana, which I’ve just finished.
“I took notes in it,” my husband said.
He was a notorious note-taker in college–my advisor once told me he was the best student they’d had in 10 years: they were shocked he didn’t go on for a Ph.D.–and the pages are covered with notes.
I simply can’t read a book with highlightings and scrawlings.
On the occasions when I took notes in class, I wrote in a notebook.
I have to buy another copy, right? And I want a paperback. I read everything for months on my e-reader and then suddenly need a real book.
E-books or books? Which do you prefer?