This is sort of an update - but not quite - on what books I will be bringing to Hanoi. The truth is, I can't tell what will eventually end up in my backpack until the minute before I step out for the airport.
Lonely Planet: Vietnam
But of course. I use the map inside to get around.
Sodom and Gomorrah Marcel Proust
I am determined to finish this volume (at least) before the start of 2008.
The Man Who Was Thursday G.K. Chesterton
Chesterton’s espionage thriller – featuring many characters with red-hair. The frequent out-crop of red-hair contributes greatly a lot to my interest. ;)
Shortlisted but still undecided:
The Dud Avocado Elaine Dundy
One of my books for the Armchair Traveler Challenge
The French colonial influence in Vietnam is like a striking dash of colour on a rich canvas – it's so entrenched into its culture and it only makes it more interesting. It's because of this French colour that I alway associate it as "Paris in Vietnam". The Dud Avocado - where a girl goes to Paris, alone.
Journal of a Solitude May Sarton
An excuse to catch up with my Outmoded Authors reading. I also like the idea of it as a companion to my solitude. Yes, I will be in a city surrounded by a lot of people – but solitude is a state of mind. Much like loneliness. But solitude and loneliness are not the same.
The City in Crimson Cloak Asli Erdogan
[Translated by Amy Spangler]
I found out about this title (via Softskull Press) earlier this year when I was pulling together a Turkish reading list for my March trip to Turkey.
The Comedians Graham Greene
Another for the Armchair Traveler Challenge. Like the start of a bad punchline, the characters – Mr Brown, Major Jones and Mr and Mrs Smith are on a boat headed for Haiti.
Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham
Will 2007 be the year of Maugham for me?
First Love Ivan Turgenev & 7. The Kreutzer Sonata Leo Tolstoy
The slim, pocket-sized novellas from the Penguin Great Loves series are so handy to carry around. I thought I do a little warm-up to the 2008 Russian Reading Challenge.
I was also hoping to unwrap a new Moleskine journal for this trip – but it seems the bookstore is out of stock for the Large Plain Notebooks. Ruled and Squared are still available but I always prefer a blank page. This is what happens when I don't stock up.
As I plan to do a bit of reading, I have also been checking out the addresses of some Hanoi cafes where I can just "hang out" with a book, coffee and my all black ensemble.
Hanoi Cafes I Would Like to Check Out
- Au Lac, 57 Ly Thai To.
This upmarket cafe claims to brew Hanoi's best coffee and is a relaxing spot to sip your cappuccino while watching the fitness freaks work out in the Metropole's gym opposite.
- Cafe Lac Viet, 46 Le Thai To.
A quiet and comfy spot for coffees. Head for the sofas on the second floor, browse the bookshelves or catch one of the regular film screenings.
- Cafe Lam, 60 Nguyen Huu Huan.
This musty but atmospheric one-room cafe made its name as a place for artists and young intellectuals to hang out. A few paid their bills with paintings, some of which still adorn the walls.
- Caf Quynh, 46b Bat Dan.
Another traditional haunt of artists and movie buffs hoping to spot the actress owner, Nhu Quynh, star of Cyclo.
- Kinh Do Cafe, 252 Hang Bong.
This so-called cafe 252 became famous after Catherine Deneuve complimented the patron on his yoghurts. The cafe still trades on this anecdote today.
- Moca, 1416 Nha Tho.
Moca has become something of a favourite for travellers and ex-pats because of its colonial-style decor and western-friendly menu.