Books Warming Up Wintry Nights in Sweden
- onNovember 11, 2014
- Vol.6 Winter 2009
- byKim Junghyuk
The most difficult part of getting ready for a trip is choosing which books to take. What kind of books, and how many? It’s always a dilemma. I’ve heard of someone who takes seven books on a week-long trip, and 30 on a month-long trip. I can see why. I wouldn’t feel at ease without that many, at least. Not having books to read on the train, or at the airport during a flight delay—just thinking about it makes me feel bored. I, too, was like that person. From Dostoevsky to Nick Hornby, I had to stuff my bags with all kinds of books that fit all kinds of situations in order to feel at ease.
In October 2008, I left for Sweden as a participant in the Overseas Residency Programs for Korean Writers hosted by the Korean Literature Translation Institute. The stay was to last three months. How many books should I take? I thought. Thirty? A hundred? I couldn’t decide, for the life of me. I couldn’t really grasp how long the three months would actually feel, and what kind of a life I would be living there. In the end, after mulling it over for a long time, I put only one book in my bag. It wasn’t something special that I had to read. Neither was it the most important book in my life.