Everybody knows I’m not too much of a book worm. I don’t have time to read books (and hate magazines), and after all prefer to spend my time doing more fascinating stuff than reading. An hour (or an afternoon) for a good book comes just occasionally, when I need to transport from one place to another. You don’t have much options during a long train journey, or a long-haul flight. You can sleep, or watch a movie on those stupid digital cinemas they tend to install on board of every aircraft destined for long haul flights.
But I do not like watching TV at all–it makes my eyes hurt, and the film selection there is very poor anyway. Hollywood and Bollywood, you name it! Nothing worth watching for a minute. That’s why I like to grab a book on the airport (you’ll find a newspaper kiosk offering at least a couple of titles in English), or on the train station. It helps to kill the time, and, as you would suspect, I typically choose something that features a beautiful cover, so it will look good in my personal art selection back home. See a couple of nice covers below:
Content often didn’t meet my expectations
Regretfully, the best cover designers work for biggest publishing houses, and biggest publishing houses produce one kind of books only–the mainstream garbage. That’s exactly what you get on the airports. An easy read, without any value in terms of art, or some benefit for your life. Just a typical American style of writing, with their boring and standardized editing. Duh!
Although I brought a lot of beautiful books from my travels around the world, I rarely read something worthy of recommendation.
Surprise in the train – The University of Solitude
Last week I was forced to take a night train from Vienna to Milan. I had a flight canceled and couldn’t afford waiting for a new one. The air company was swift and operative–they paid my money back at once, and so I headed straight for the train station to arrange my journey back to Milan.
I got a place in a sleeper and looked for a good night rest, after a stressful day at the airport. I definitely felt like sleeping! On the ‘bed’ reserved for me, however, a surprise was waiting. Somebody forgot there (or perhaps even left?) a book with a beautiful shiny cover. It was called University of Solitude.
I didn’t plan to read on the train. I just wanted to sleep, and perhaps read a couple of chapters in the early morning, while we reached Milan. The other passengers in my car had other plans, however. They wanted to chat, and weren’t intelligent enough to understand that I wanted to sleep at once. Hoping they’d quiet down in a few moments, I took the book in my hands and started to read….
One hour passed, two hour passed, and the young couple from Vienna went to sleep. But I couldn’t take my eyes of the book! It was indeed a real life inspirational story–they do not lie on their website I visited much later. Very authentic, emotional, and full of reflections that made me think about my own life, and that one particular train journey I was just going through….
The book tells a story of a naive but idealistic businessman from Slovakia, who became the unwitting pawn in covert intelligence games played between the United States and Iran, and ended up in Iranian prison, facing a possibility of a death sentence. But it was much more than a typical prison story of injustice and crime plots…. it was a beautiful and sensitive philosophy of a man who, seeming, had nothing left in his life.
We reached Milan at six in the morning. I was just finishing the last chapter. Considering to leave the book in the train (so another person can enjoy it on the way back to Vienna), I finally decided to take it home with me. It was too good and the cover was too beautiful to leave it on the train.