I’ve recently started reading again. This happens periodically. I won’t read a single book for months and then something will spark my interest and I’m off. All my spare time is spent reading. I confine myself to my room with a book and large mug of tea, emerging at regular intervals to refill the mug and take a toilet break in pertual cycles. That’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks, much to the detriment of my fitness preparation. So it goes.

My recent, seemingly unquenchable thirst for literature (and tea) and ability to find at least two new books I want to read for every one I finish got me to thinking about what books I will take with me on the start of my journey from the UK to Cape Town. I clearly can’t fit a small library’s worth of books into my panniers. That, I have since discovered, isn’t entirely true.

bookPlanet eBook is an online home of classic literature, where you can download any of the books listed for free in pdf format. This is legal, simply because the books’ copyright has expired. To date, there are 61 classics available to be downloaded and read. Since I shall be taking a laptop with me anyway, I can save these books to my harddrive and access them anytime, anywhere; without having to load my panniers with a single printed page. 

Call me traditional, but reading from a computer screen just isn’t quite the same as holding a book and turning the pages. For the weight- and space-savings which are crucial for my trip, I’m happy to compromise here. Nay-sayers may hint that reading from a backlit screen is tiring on the eyes, but I’m already half-way through my downloaded copy of Franz Kafka’s, ‘The Trial’ and haven’t felt the need to stop reading.

Another online source of literature is the Gutenberg Project which has an extensive library of some 28,000 free books available to download.

Another alternative, which I don’t claim to know a lot about, are electronic readers such as Amazon’s Kindle (not yet available in the UK) and Sony’s eReader. These devices solve the problems associated with reading from a laptop and the number of books available for download is huge. For me, these devices are not a viable option since I do not want to be adding yet another expensive piece of electronic equipment to my belongings which will need charging and be at risk of theft. I can however see the benefits for a number of situations and is certainly worth considering if you like reading when travelling but don’t have a laptop.