Wednesday, January 24, 2018

So you're going on vacation

Leye- every other Wednesday

Spotted this Frenchman reading my book in Nigeria. He wasn't on vacation. 

Today someone told me they just bought my book to read on vacation. Now, while I’m pleased that they decided to buy and read my book, it took every ounce of self-control I never knew I had in me to stop myself asking them, ‘Are you crazy?’

Now, I know I’m stumping on thin ice here, but why do people read books on vacation? Why do Brits especially it seems, escape the grey, cold misery of England only to bake on a deckchair beside a pristine swimming pool shimmering in beautiful tropical sunshine and read the latest you’ve-gotta-read-this book?

I’m proud to say I’ve never read a book whilst on vacation. It just seems like a particularly expensive way to read a book.

Again, I’m flattered that they’re taking my book with them on holiday, but unless they’re planning to read it on the flight there or on their way back, it just makes me feel like I’m being unfairly made to be complicit in a terrible crime. You are on vacation; do vacationy things, don’t read a book. Meet the locals. Learn the swear words. Get totally robbed at the tourist traps. Buy junk souvenirs customs will confiscate on you return home. Try the local cuisine. Discover the local legends. Fall in love. Get into trouble with the police. Have an adventure. Vacation. Do those things you do on the cheap by reading a book.

I do see books, especially good ones, as sort of cheap vacations. Without buying tickets, booking hotels, making plans, learning to ask, 'Is this vegan?' in Urdu, you can be instantly transported from the bus on your morning work commute, to an exciting, exotic place where exciting, exotic people do exciting exotic things like high crime, espionage, treason, murder, plot the end of the world, fall in love, fall dramatically out of love, create monsters, become monsters. 

A good book takes you places you may have never been, countries you will never be able to visit unless you’re defecting, parallel universes where up is down and down is something entirely different. To futures so exciting you want to live the thousand years till then. To pasts so intriguing you’d never have thought murder could be so inventive in the hands of Victorians. A good book will take you behind the beautiful doors of the mansions of Little Venice where the rich, richly kill one another for the sole purpose of your entertainment.      

By all means, buy my book and discover a world so different from any that you might know, meet Amaka, a woman so woman she doesn’t need anyone’s approval, and be witness to crimes so criminal you’ll never trust anyone again. But whatever you do, do not read it while on vacation. That, in my books, is a crime too far; second only to watching a movie at the cinema while on vacation.


  1. This is brilliant! Thank you, Leye, for making me laugh out loud when I really needed to.

  2. Oh no veganblogmate, I'm not letting you get away with that. I work very hard, 16 hour shifts down a mine... well not quite... but between the day job, writing, touring and being nice to people, I have about ten minutes at the end of the day when I read. So on holiday I take one book per day. I take clothes out my case so I can get more books in. I devour them like a kid in a candy shop..... but of course, being female, I can multitask. I can read and take in the scenery!

    1. Lol. I love that people read on vacation, actually. The real me, that is, not the one who rants for the blog :-)

  3. I know this is a masterful satirical post subtly commending reading, but for those who might take you seriously and kill the market for those of us said to write “beach novels,” permit me to say this. When I worked at a regular day job, I spent a minimum of fourteen hours a day reading other people’s views of the truth or crafting my own oun behalf of a client’s agenda. There was precious little chance (or energy) for catching up on other folk’s creative efforts—especially if I intended to partake in real time in any of the non-reading activities you suggest be put off until vacation. Which meant, like Caro, that I did a lot of reading on research of sorts on what to try once back to reality. :)