A few years back I dated a guy whose job required him to travel all over the world. Whenever we’d get together he’d shower me with gifts. Generally, the idea of exotic jewelry excites me. However, he gave me more cheap jewelry than my nickel-allergic body knew what to do with. I scratched so much I looked a dog with fleas. This is one of the reasons I tend to hate souvenirs; they’re useless.
Case in point the African shirt he bought me, which again sounds cool in theory, but it had so many holes I didn’t know where to put my head or arms. Now it just sits in the closet in my parent’s house.
It’s not that I don’t think souvenirs can’t be done right. Rather, I believe there is a bold line separating sentimental trinkets and chachkies. Hey, can’t have too many magnets right? WRONG. I’ve always been a fan of those penny press machines; sadly, these aren’t as common as I’d like. Mugs are great, but even I don’t drink that much coffee. Snow globes can be charming, if done right, but how often does that happen? Besides, one nice snow globe is sweet, more than that and you might as well be showcasing beanie babies. Worse are the abominable I <3 shirts and their bastard cousin, the photo pillow. Poor girl. FYI this is how I plan to threaten my children if they ever misbehave while traveling.
Personally, I hate the idea of paying for something pedestrian or downright tacky. Unless I see something extremely unique or unforgettable, I reside myself with simply enjoying the moment.
Though I’ve never been much of the souvenir type, I recently went on a road trip around Spain with my best friend, who made me reconsider. While visiting Retiro Park in Madrid, we passed some used book vendors. There she purchased her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. To add to my collection, she said. Every time she travels to a different country, she picks up a copy. Consequently, she owns it in Farsi, Greek, Italian, French, and now, Spanish.
If you think about it, it’s a great way to learn a new language. Not to mention, it’ll allow me to fill up my bookshelf and pretend I’m much more well-read than I actually am. More importantly, it won’t make me feel like I’m being swindled since buying a book is always money well spent.
The only question is, which book to collect?
I didn’t expect it to be such a difficult decision. I hate playing favorites and truth be told, I don’t have a favorite book. Each one is special to me in its own right. However, after careful debating, I’ve decided on Memoirs of a Geisha.
For one, it’s mainstream, making it exponentially easier to find than say, Saramago’s Blindness, and much lighter and therefore traveler friendly option than Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Plus, it’s one of the first books I’ve ever fallen in love with. And while it’s not necessarily my favorite book of all time, it is one of the very few books I’ve actually read more than once. I know, I know. There are just too many books and too little time.
What book would you buy from all around the world? Tweet me.
Find more book and travel love via my Pinterest
More from living