Planning my reading for a major holiday is always difficult. Before I go, I want to read about the country, and when I actually travel, I want to have reference books (guides, maps, bird books - although I realise not everyone regards the last as essential), local colour - whether it be fiction or non-fiction, and some escape reading for tired moments. Always, my eyes are bigger than my reading capacity or my luggage, and heart breaking decisions have to be made. The trip I'm thinking about at present is to Namibia, though it's weeks away, and I've accumulated at least some (too many!) of the necessary books.
Above are the bare essentials - though I may be tough on myself and leave the guide to South Africa - I'm only going to be there three days and I will be with friends who live there. But the bird book alone weighs 2 lbs! Below are the results of a raid on the London Library, which has all sorts of magical things tucked away in odd corners. I've got the three Bushmen books I posted on a few days ago, including Laurens van der Post's The Lost World of the Kalahari, a history of an anti-German revolt by the Herero people of (what is now) northern Namibia in 1904, and two volumes of the Proceedings of the Van Riebeeck Society (just amazing to find these up a thousand staircases in the Library, one of them last taken out in 1981) publishing the journals of travellers and missionaries from 1724, 1761, and the mid-nineteenth century.
Finally, I have ordered a few more specifically Namibian books - two novels and a book about the conservation of the black rhino. And (really finally) I shall take a couple of old favourites from my own shelves, or buy cheap editions of them with a view to abandoning them en route - you may be able to see that I can't travel without the blessed Jane. What I actually take will be decided the evening before my flight (or possibly the next morning) - and if any of them are of particular interest, I will post separately about them. I don't read every word of all these of course - I'll pick up the more arcane books while the kettle is boiling, or over breakfast, or in bath or bed, and I'll skim, dip, and browse: often this will make me read the book properly, but with a lengthy academic book, or the prosy memoirs of a C19th missionary, it's often enough to get the mood and flavour.