Books + Music + Travel?

Do any of you also associate books and music with sits and other travel?

I find that buying books is a nice way to remember places and moments in time later, including while sitting — both the experience of making the purchase and having it to read later. Like I remember buying various books decades ago on trips or while living and working abroad.

A few recent additions came from the longstanding, independent Brick Lane Bookshop, which was an easy walk from the cat and flat I just sat in London. And a few months ago, after dog, cat and house sit right outside of Cambridge, I bought a few copies of Jane Austen.

Otherwise, I also buy local CDs sometimes. For the music and the CD art, which can be evocative. Like I bought some in Morocco and listen to them while sipping mint tea at home sometimes.

I find these kind of sensory experiences extend and integrate travel.

Had a terrific discussion with a Parisian cabdriver who was taking me to Shakespeare and Company in the Latin Quarter yesterday. We touched on the Bard, Maupassant, Flaubert and others, as well as the benefits of travel. I was sightseeing in between sits and I’ll remember our conversation for a long time to come.


I try to read books by authors from the country I’m travelling in or books set in those countries. I don’t often buy new books but get them from charity shops or swap with others. Like you I’ll buy cds by musicians from the countries I’m in. I’ve a fab jazz cd by an Icelandic group from when I visited.


I’ll do that sometimes, but more often than not aim for contrasts. Like when I worked in Hong Kong, I read a number of British and Irish books.

I buy books new to support publishers, writers and authors. That’s because books shaped the trajectory of my life and livelihood. I figure if someone like me isn’t a patron of the arts, writers and editors in particular, who will be?

My parents are uneducated immigrants. If not for books, my life would’ve been much narrower.


Hi @Maggie8K You visited one of my favourite bookshops - I love Shakespeare and Company! Hope you enjoyed your visit there :books::heart::blush:

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Thanks, @Samox24. Sure did.

Did a trifecta: Visited the bookshop Sunday. Saw Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe on Monday. Today, headed to Stratford-upon-Avon for a sit.

@Maggie8K you need to put my old home of Hay on Wye, (still 32 second hand independent book shops) on your reading & UK travel list! On the English Welsh border. The main book festival is normally the last week in May, first week in June, but it’s just as much fun, & easier to find books, when it’s quiet :zipper_mouth_face::two_hearts:


@Cuttlefish couldn’t help including the official Hay website. it’s a favorite 'haunt"

Picture source:


What a lovely thread! Thank you.

I’ve discovered some new favourite books in the homes I’ve been sitting, and I associate the books with the places.

Piranesi by Susanna Clark and the Book of Dreams by Nina George - the Somerset Levels, The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young - a sunny terrace by the River Frome, Memories and Reflections of Carl Jung - steps overlooking the bay at Ilfracombe, The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley - here on the south Devon coast.

Also I have musical ‘crushes’ during a sit; here, it’s Hungarian-Romanian dances. I also carry a couple of tin whistles with me, and I like just inventing tunes in repsonse to the places I’m in.


@Sunshine_G, thanks for sharing all those details. I’ll check them out. I especially love that you carry whistles and improvise. :notes::musical_note: :notes:

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@Cuttlefish, thanks, yes, definitely want to visit. I haven’t yet, because a friend wants to go together.

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@Sunshine_G I also love that housesitting often provides a “library” of books to read at each sit. Although there are too many books that I ran out of time to finish before the end of the sit!

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Getting to know local cultures is one of my greatest pleasures when traveling.

My favorite is listening to traditional/folk music and learning the lyrics. It’s a good way to connect with people (they’re often surprised when I know their local classics), and it’s a fun way to learn a language. Sometimes I even learn how to play the song on guitar/piano - some of my most magical travel memories were made while playing music with locals.

There’s this social phenomenon where, when people notice you don’t speak their language, they tend to put up a wall. It’s not ill-intentioned, just an uncomfortable situation for many. My friend calls it “Gringophobia” (Gringo means “foreigner” in Spanish). So singing a phrase from a well-known local song breaks the ice and opens up friendly communication.


When did you live there? I’ve been going to the Hay festival almost since the beginning and have volunteered there for quite a few years. I’ll be there again next May having missed it this year. My favourite town

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If you want to go to the festival you’ll struggle to find accommodation in the town, people book as they leave for the following year. I have to camp

2015 to 2020. Was a steward three years, probably 2016-2018 at the festival too. Always worked on the Tata tent for Clive :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: What about you @Smiley?


Great to know. Thank you.

Yes, happily, most of the HOs I’ve sat for read a lot. The last ones for instance were creatives and had a rich selection of books about film and art.

I don’t do long sits, so only skim most HOs’ books. Once, though, I sublet from a professor of architecture for three months while he taught abroad, and that was sumptuous, because of his library. (I sublet before deciding where to buy after taking a job across the country.)

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Great examples of connecting, @orenknaan!

Food and drink are connectors as well. That reminds me of a late aunt who was a magnificent home cook. My husband cooks and really appreciated her food, including wanting to learn her techniques. She spoke Chinese and he, English, but they somehow communicated.

She ended up loving him so much that she’d invite him to dinner even when I couldn’t make it, while I was working abroad. There was no one to translate if I wasn’t there, LOL. And they’d squeeze into her tiny kitchen while he watched her cook.

She even took him shopping at what are called “wet markets” in Hong Kong, where you could buy poultry and fish ordered to slaughter. I was grossed out, but he wasn’t, so they went without me!


I started on the Starlight, but have been with Clive on the Baillie Gifford (ex Tara) for a few years. So we must have coincided!

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Now I’ve looked at your profile @Smiley I recognise you!! What a small world. I’ll DM you (or the rest of the forum members will be weeping with boredom) :joy: but we lived up the hill from Clive & his wife and dogs. #smallworldindeed