It is almost 1 am, and I really should be going to bed soon . . . but I am fretting about what books to take with me to France tomorrow.
After a day of manic pre-holiday preparations -- washing and drying and sorting, packing way too many clothes (but a modest number of shoes), cleaning out the refrigerator, organizing the pet-care rota, making numerous phone calls and appointments, paying bills, mailing packages, spending three hours on the Internet trying to find a hotel room for tomorrow night, editing the carry-on luggage -- I still have not sorted out the crucial detail of my holiday reading.
For some reason, (could it be my curdled brain?) nothing is sounding quite right to me. I'm wanting something French in flavor, but a scan of the unread books on my shelf yields nothing but Suite Francaise -- and I'm not sure that I'm up for WWII stories at the moment. I should bring along Midnight's Children, but it doesn't seem like a good book for the pool. I'm looking for that balanced blend of substance and frivolity, and it just isn't jumping off the shelf at me. I suppose that I could rely on a random pick of Heathrow's offerings, but that's a risky strategy, too.
The right book at the right time always elevates a holiday for me -- and just like scent, or taste, or music, it can help reinforce the flimsy structure of my memory. When I read Eat, Pray, Love on the beach at Antigua (winter 2006), or The Big House by the sand dunes in Cape Cod (summer 2005), I experienced the perfect melding of inner and outer landscapes. Earlier this summer, in New England, I seemed to be stuck in the memoir genre . . . and this, too, was perfect for my nostalgic mood and a certain wallowing in Americana.
Should I just rely on the abandoned books of the previous residents of the house? Maybe those castoffs will be inspired . . . after all, the villa I am going to is named Storyvilla.