When I’m on a bike tour I don’t usually have time to read Steinbeck’s East of Eden or Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They are too riveting! You don’t want to put a good novel down. So when I’m traveling I tend to read short stories. One story is usually just enough for bedtime reading and I don’t get so wrapped up in a novel that I forget to go sit in the piazza and watch the locals.
Rummaging through my bookshelf I just came up with The Penguin Book of Irish Short Stories (ed. Benedict Kiely) from one of my Ireland trips and, two volumes of Bantam Books’ Short Shorts, An Anthology of the Shorts Stories (Ed. Howe and Howe) with a collection of international authors.
Normally I try to read books by local authors from the country where I’m pedaling. But some of my favorite short story collections are The Best Short Stories of Mark Twain (Modern Library Classics) and Kurt Vonnegut’s collections including Welcome to the Monkey House. And so it goes . . .
Penguin and others publish a great series of dual language short story collections. So if you are headed to Italy and want some reading material to entertain and help you refresh that college level Italian you had 30 years ago take a look at Italian Short Stories 1: Parallel Text Edition. Search “parallel” or “dual” language short stories and you’ll find a host of them on line in most languages.
And if you are headed out on a long ride across Eastern Europe (maybe St. Petersburg to Istanbul or perhaps Krakow to Budapest) take a look at the series of short stories edited by Aleksandar Hemon, a Bosnian-American fiction writer. Published by Dalkey Archive Press, Hemon’s Best European Fiction has been published annually since 2010. I happened to pick up the 2011 edition at our local library and it contains a wonderful, eclectic collection of short stories by authors from throughout Europe including many from eastern Europe.
The bad news about Best European Fiction is that it looks and feels like a brick of Tillamook Cheese – you don’t want to carry it in your luggage. The good news is that the series and most of the books I mention above are available in Kindle editions. I also understand that you can get Kindle reader apps for most electronic devices.
Have a great trip!