A while ago I read Nora Dunn’s … It was full of practical advice on how to travel a lot without paying for accommodation. So when Nora asked me if I was interested in reviewing her new book Tales of Trains: Where the Journey is the Destination, I immediately said yes.
This wouldn’t be a “how to”-book though, she warned me, but the story of her love for train travel. I didn’t quite know what to expect. Would it be like a memoir? Would it be a more reflective, maybe even philosophical book?
Well, in Tales of Trains tells the story of three important train trips Nora has undertaken:
- The Ghan, from Darwin to Adelaide (Australia) – 3 days
- The Indian Pacific, from Sidney to Perth… and back (Australia), 11 days
- The Ultimate Train Challenge, from Lisbon (Portugal) to Saigon (Vietnam), one month
How this book is like a train ride
Before riding The Ghan, Nora thought she would be bored spending almost three entire days on a train. She’d prepared herself for it and had brought things to keep herself busy. However, after those three days she realized she hadn’t been bored for a minute, and so she wonders – given her love of train travel – if it would ever be possible for her to find boredom on a train.
That’s the main reason for her plan to travel “up and down” the Indian Pacific and spend – some short stops excluded – 11 days on a train: to figure out whether she could get bored during the trip.
Now you may think that the book continues in one of two ways:
- Nora gets bored on the train and has to deliver some good writing not to make the tale of her journey boring to us.
- Nora doesn’t get bored on the train and tells us all about the crazy things she experiences and the interesting people she meets.
Well, actually the answer lies somewhere in between.
You see, Nora does meet people and she introduces them to us, tells us a bit about conversations, but those passages are always pretty short and so at a given point while reading I remember thinking: “Well, there’s not much happening on that train”, but then I looked at the page number I was on and… I was already half-way in the book!
In Dutch we have this expression: “It reads like a train”. When you say a book reads like a train, it means that the book just keeps you going. You don’t need a break, you don’t need to put it aside for a while, you just keep on reading and before you know it you’ve reached the terminus.
This book reads like a train.
It’s like you’re riding the train and looking out of the window. You have a book with you, your laptop maybe, or a game you could play on your cell phone. Yet you just stare out of the window and before you know it the ride is over and you feel this calm inside of you. You haven’t been busy, you’ve just been.
That’s Tales of Trains. It won’t take you through all kinds of emotions, but it will take you along for the ride. And before you know it a couple of hours have passed.
Do you like train travel?
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