Book Memories #2: Ruminations on Train Travels

The second in a (very) occasional series about experiences that comes to mind about my reading past.  I honestly thought I had done more entries than this but a quick look at the 205 drafts saved, reveals a bunch of rotting posts in waiting, that need to be rewritten.

Dashing off these notes in that zone of midday when the intersection – of which we reside on one of the corners – is devoid of people and noise thanks to the heat.  Only the whir of the heroic electric fan and the clicking of Rambo’s claws on tile as he wanders around intrude upon my silence.

As I read (the perfect pastime to aid digestion of the midday meal, and it’s not considered a meal unless it is with rice) my latest fiction book, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, one of those random thoughts arrived at the station of consciousness.  It was a memory of a train journey that I didn’t take.  Although the memory is hazy, I am certain it was a train journey taken by Michael Palin in one of his travel books, probably Sahara or Himalaya.

Judging by the two narrowed down titles, I am certain I would have read both in Summer, thanks to my ‘method reading’ and the reasoning that unless it is a book from a so-called cold country then Summer is undoubtedly the season to embark on book travel, as well as real.  It wasn’t the actual journey that was the focus of my thoughts though, rather the accompanying feeling to reading the words.  It’s that sense of the intrepid, a unique kind that is available only to the armchair traveller, accompanying through the words but layering it with one’s own imagination and experiences.  It’s an exhilarating call to the upcoming adventure and the unpredictability that inspires and excites creativity.

Unlike actual travelling which is on the whole less romantic, where the sense of the uncharted is undermined by all the research and planning, it is rather the sense of open-ended wonder of the unfamiliar that is placed in a comfortable framework of certainty.  This reading experience is by no means a common thing, rather it follows the reader around and creeps up from time to time, a welcome companion who greets me every so often, signalling a new part of a expedition, promising new perspectives and rituals to discover.

16 Replies to “Book Memories #2: Ruminations on Train Travels”

    1. I have some great ideas that when I think about them, aren’t actually workable or very good so they stay waiting for inspiration.


  1. I love train travel! And I haven’t been on a train since 2013. It’s gotten too expensive now, and I’m a home body now that I have a kitty cat that I don’t want to leave boarded out. Speaking of her, she just had some pre-op blood work done this morning, for her tooth extraction which is supposed to take place on July 24. She was really upset today, but felt much happier once we were home. She knows that word now, I’m pretty sure, because I tell her repeatedly that we’re going home, and she will usually stop the hysterical meowing when she hears the word. Anyway, I hope you will write a poetic post soon about train travel; it’s the only way to go!


    1. I hope your kitty is being suitably spoilt now! Train travel in England is disgustingly bad price wise. Over here I am told that the two train lines in Manila will usually be packed. before I got here, the company running one of the lines was so bad people would regularly have to get out of broken down trains and walk along the tracks. Not the best approaches for a poetic post but I did do a post about trains a few years back which you may remember…


  2. I love train travel and I also loved armchair travel – interesting thought that real travel is often less romantic – too true, the books make it sound stirring and fabulous, without all the real niggles and sometime disasters!


    1. From what I remember, and this is a while ago there were the odd niggles but when you have a camera crew and all the help of the BBC to film it and make sure it goes smoothly, it isn’t half so bad as the average traveller has it. I fancy going on a train now.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A really interesting post, Ste J. I also have many memories of the feelings and sensations I experience whilst reading. These memories can be recalled by reading a similar book or by something I do or hear as I go about my daily tasks. It is fascinating how much information our brains can store – the original book; the thoughts that the book can provoke; the other books that also remind one of the original book; books that remind one of the thoughts etc., etc.
    I don’t particularly enjoy organising a journey (and I am glad that my husband is good at it!) but I do love to be on a long train journey, even an over-night journey. I love the freedom of not having to drive, I love being able to read, and do crosswords and stare out the window and dream. I love crossing Europe by train.


    1. I’m not the best at organising either, Crissy is organised thankfully and I help by pointing at things when we get to a place. I have ever yet had the pleasure of a long train journey but the other day we were on a plane which dropped a hundred feet apparently, that was the worst of the three drops we had. It was all very dramatic.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Being a somewhat avid watcher of Air Crash Investigations I spent time diagnosing the reason for our demise before the plane levelled off. I find that reading helps because my mind demands the plane waits until I have finished my sentence before we spiral to our doom, by which time the drop is done. There is nothing like adding drama where it isn’t needed.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the travel journeys we read about carried over into our actual journeys, without the stress and expense? I love the way you describe your reading journeys. And I am reminded of those times in the day when it’s so hot that nobody is about. There is a different flavour to the day, like when it snows.


    1. I like the peace, it stops the dogs barking for one and I like to imagine a zombie apocalypse has taken place too. To have a journey arranged and none of the stress would be wonderful, I am happy to have expense if the stress is taken away.

      Liked by 1 person

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