When Jeremy and I undertook our location independent lifestyle, one of the questions I received most often was “But what are you going to do about books?” As an avid reader since childhood, I guess I should have foreseen that a lack of English-language reading opportunities may have been one downside to traveling the globe.
Fortunately, it hasn’t been. So, I guess it’s a good thing that I never lost any sleep pondering that problem that I never had! In fact, it’s been remarkably easy to get my hands on plenty of reading material. Of course, it helps that I’m kind of a reading ‘ho. Yep–while I prefer to do it in my own bed or couch with a treasured companion, I’m pretty much content to do it anywhere and with any resources available. (Yes, you can rest assured that when my kids read this line, they’ll cover their eyes and hum loudly to block out the visual. In fact, torturing one’s children is one of the pure pleasures of having one’s own blog, as any parenting blogger will attest. And, for gosh sake–I’m talking about reading a book. Get yer mind outta the gutter!)
Oh yes…back to the topic of books…not that we ever left….
In spite of my minimalist philosophy that caused me to rid myself of all but three or four of my most treasured books, I’ve never been short of things to read. My plentiful resources include:
- Kindle software on my PC. I owned an actual Kindle for all of two days before I decided it didn’t suit me and returned it. However, Amazon has free Kindle software for the computer. Once I downloaded that, I never looked back.
- Complimentary to the above, I discovered several sites that offer FREE Kindle books daily. Thanks to Pixel of Ink, Power Reads and Dining Downloads, I have enough books in my Kindle library (including cookbooks!) to last me a lifetime.
- Libraries worldwide, it turns out, will issue a temporary library card–even if you are a non-permanent resident. Often, they will require a small fee or a deposit left with the library. My favorite one was the branch library in Armidale, NSW, Australia where the librarian stuck my money in an envelope and tossed it in the drawer. I figured I could kiss that money good-bye. But sure enough, four weeks later, it was retrieved and handed back to me.
- When one is housesitting, the bookshelves of the homeowners can be a treasure trove of previously unexplored delights.
- Although I’ve never used the service, there are several sites that allow one to rent books Netflix-style. Check our Bookswim that markets itself as a “library at your door with unlimited book rental.” So far, this one is only good in the US.
In our new home in San Miguel de Allende, we discovered La Biblioteca Publica three days after landing here. (We do have our priorities!) The minute we established permanent residency, we were in line for our library cards. My first read? A biography of Wallis Simpson–not someone whose life I’d want to emulate, but she was quite a character!
La Biblioteca offers great reads in both English and Spanish (for now, we’re sticking to the English versions). And, like most US libraries, they also offer a plethora of additional services–everything from movies, to kid’s programs to the well-known Sunday home tours.
And now that we’re in a quasi-permanent location (I know, I know…who knows?) I’m not so shy about actually purchasing a book or two. (Shocking, ain’t it?). So, this past weekend, I bought my first book in two years! And to boot, it’s in Spanish! Okay–it has a lot of pictures–but the language is definitely Spanish.
I’d never considered the idea that learning a second language would open new literary doors for me; that was an unanticipated bonus! But on Satruday, while Jeremy and I were strolling among the stalls of the fabulous Fabrica La Aurora, I wandered into a tiny bookstore–the name of which escapes me, if indeed I ever knew it–or it even has a name.
My eye was taken by a tome that would clearly be labeled a “coffee table book.” First of all, the cover was a juicy pink and red combo that I found irresistible. Plus, it was a heavy and large hardcover edition. And when one hasn’t bought a book in two years, one should jump in wholeheartedly, don’t you agree?
But it was the title of the book that caught my entrepreneurial eye. It was called simply “oficios.” At first, I thought it was going to be about home offices, so of course it piqued my interest right away. But then I remembered that the Spanish word for office was “oficina,” so I knew I was close, but that I wasn’t ready to light the metaphorical cigar just yet.
The book is dedicated to what we in the states would call “people in the trades” or perhaps “blue collar workers.” It’s full of fabulous photos and one- and two-page descriptions of these workers and the intricacies, pleasures and challenges of how they earn their daily bread. I was smitten.
Sure, it’s going to take me months to get through this book. I sit with it in my lap, my computer opened to my Google Translator program at the ready. I look up every other word–even if I think I know them. But that’s okay.
It’s all for the love of books.