Books I didn't mean to read

It's never a good start to your holiday when your kindle breaks on the plane out. Mine has served me faithfully for many years but of course the newer versions - I'm thinking the paper white - are better, in that they are smaller, have an inbuilt light (how fabulous! Being able to read without a bedside light) and seem to have numerous additional features. But - 109 quid is a lot of money to shell out and I'm annoyed that mine has given up the ghost for no apparent reason.

Anyway, seeing as I'm on holiday now, without a kindle that I had loaded with dozens of books I really want to read, I'm thrown on the mercy of what is available in the place I'm staying. Fortunately, the beautiful, idyllic house in a picturesque, unspoilt Majorcan fishing village belongs to a very close friend of mine and so I can rely on the fact that there will be books worth reading. As indeed there are.

The funny thing is that books worth reading aren't necessarily the ones that you would have chosen - indeed they are not the ones I had chosen. I am reminded of my extremely misspent youth when my travelling companion and I would go down the the harbour of whatever town we happened to be in and search out the boats with English-speaking flags: boats from Britain (obvs), South Africa, America, Australia, New Zealand etc etc. We would ask the sailors of these boats if they had any books they would like to swap. This was long before the idea of a kindle was so much as a twinkle in Amazon's eye - books were currency; precious, hard to come by and used as bargaining tools for more books.

Thus it was that I have read books by Jeffrey Archer (I kid you not), books by Danielle Steele and, in what I wish was a post-modernist ironic way but was actually desperation, Joan Collins's autobiography. This latter was interesting, in the way that anthropological research can be interesting, and many years later, had I been on Who Wants to be a Millionaire as I so wished to be, could have got me one of the biggest prizes going. On one historic occasion, the question came up, 'What is Joan Collins middle name?' I do not see how this could possibly be regarded as general knowledge by any stretch of the imagination - but if I had been in the big chair at that moment, I wouldn't have cared. Because I knew that the answer was 'Henrietta'. And that is all down to my travelling, book swapping days.

So what am I reading now? In all honesty, I can't remember the title or author of the book I picked out of the pile and a couple of glasses of rose in, I can't be bothered to go and find it. All I know is that I'm enjoying the journey of reading outside my comfort zone... but missing my kindle and somehow knowing that £109 will have to be found somehow.

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