Monday, April 13, 2009


The longer we stay on the boat, the more we read. It is now almost six months since we left the U.S. – a long time since we could choose from a large selection of books in English. We’ve had some wonderful books brought to us by friends and family, but we have read through nearly all of those. When we have energy and focus, we still have the heavy reading: Tolstoy, Octavio Paz, some dense histories, and books in Spanish to work through. But for light reading we are now dependent on Book Exchanges.

Informal book exchanges exist at nearly every port where cruising boats congregate. They are located in cafes, laundromats, marina offices, or clubhouses. They consist of impossibly random collections of the books that previous travelers have left behind. Naturally, they are heavy on pulp fiction, the best sellers, which occupy the greater portion of shelf space. But amongst the common, there are the rare gems, which provides the adventurous sailor/reader a chance to dip into an author or a subject which would never be considered in the land of unlimited choice. It is strange to pick up a book that is dusty, even grimy, and totally unknown, take it back to the boat, and discover a wonderful story in the slightly moldy, foxed pages. It is one of the lessons learned from travel - be open to odd serendipity.


Blogger Owen said...

We exchange books on our missions. I find that it is a great way to end up reading something that you would never have normally purchased back home. It is how I finally, and admittedly shamefully, finally got around to Catch 22.

April 13, 2009 9:26 PM  

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