Reading on the Road

Across from the Flamingo

I’ve been home for about an hour after traveling to Las Vegas for work. (No, really.) Because the trip was for work, I spent a lot of time not doing the tourist things. I spent a lot of time walking in the bits of shade I could find and hopping into the air conditioning when the heat got to be too much—which happened a lot. The experience got me to thinking about how much time I steal on my trips (work and vacations) looking for times and places to read.

Plane travel is awful. Even getting on the place is awful. But once I’m in my seat, I can pull out a book or my iPad and forget that I’m squeezed into a flying metal tube overstuffed with other people. When I’m being driven back and forth and hither and yon in a strange city*, I can read my way into something much more interesting and make the time go a little faster. I’ve done this—read while traveling—for as long as I can remember. Years ago, on a family trip when I was a teen, I read The Stand on the way from Wisconsin back to western Washington. I loved to read the scenes set on the Great Plains as I was driving across them myself. I’ve never had quite the same synchronicity since then.

At Caesar’s Palace

Of course, you get a lot of very strange looks when you’re curled up in an out of the way corner, reading, in a casino on the Las Vegas Strip. This weekend, it’s not all that weird considering that it’s the site of this year’s American Library Association Annual Conference. Swarms** of librarians were descending as I made my way out of town.

I did wander around a little, and hiked about a third of the strip yesterday morning before the temperature started to climb. It was a surreal experience to find myself in Venice, then ancient Rome, and then Paris, all within a couple of blocks. It was like wandering a movie lot or Jasper Fforde’s Well of Lost Plots. No wonder Vegas does so well. It’s basically fiction come to life.

Ah, it’s good to be home, where the only surrealness is between a pair of book covers where it belongs.


* The driver of the airport shuttle bus today drove like he was handling the thing like it was the Knight Bus.

** I’m not sure what the real collective noun for librarians is. I really wish it was an index of librarians or a bibliography of librarians.