The giveaway was inspired by Amal El-Mohtar’s incredible You Must Read This which was published by NPR this week which includes these lovely lines about the book:
Travel Light is the story of Halla, a girl born to a king but cast out onto the hills to die. She lives among bears; she lives among dragons. But the time of dragons is passing, and Odin All-Father offers Halla a choice: Will she stay dragonish and hoard wealth and possessions, or will she travel light?
Amal wove many personal and literary threads together in an enthralling and thought-provoking way. Her love for the book shines through so fully it has sent hundreds, thousands of readers to find the book for themselves. And Travel Light is such a short, beautiful book that many readers have already read it and recommended it to others. It’s amazing to see. Annalee’s io9 headline about Amal’s essay, The book we all wish we could have read as children, hits the nail on the head for many of us reading it for the first time. I’d have loved to read Travel Light when I was a kid deep in John Christopher’s Beyond the Burning Lands and Tripods series, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea, Richard Cowper’s White Bird of Kinship books, Joan Aiken, Alan Garnar’s The Weird Stone of Brisingamin, Megan Lindholm’s Wizard of the Pigeons, John Wyndham’s Chrysalids, etc., etc.
I’ve loved Travel Light for years. I had the Virago UK edition with the green cover and kept giving copies of it away. At some point I got a hardcover—Kelly used to give me Mitchison books for my birthday, now I have to catch up!—and when we were doing Peapod Classic reprints it was a natural fit. Kevin Huizenga’s cover illustration is still a treat: there are so many things going on in that cover.
To see a book I love as much as this suddenly rocket up and off in the world is so exciting I’ve occasionally had to step away from it all and take a deep breath. (Which has been made very easy by our 4-year-old daughter—often bearish, sometimes dragonish—who has been wearing a princess dress under her new jaguar costume and has been running around terrorizing everyone and everything in the house.)
I’ve spent years at book fairs chatting to people about the book and some of those people were caught by in the same way. One reader I know, Karen Meisner, was caught because Amal writes that Karen gave it her for her birthday. If we are lucky, if the work is done and everything is in place, this is the way the world works: a good book is written (be it now or in “Marseilles — Peshawar, 1951”), a reader finds it, loves it, and passes that love on. And on and on and on . . . .
. . . and should you be tempted like me to look for more Mitchison, The Corn King and the Spring Queen is a huge immersive historical novel, Memoirs of a Spacewoman is a sometimes slow, sometimes hilarious taboo-crushing novel about “communication,” but the books I really recommend are her autobiographies (Small Talk: Memories of an Edwardian Childhood, All Change Here: Girlhood and Marriage, and You May Well Ask: A Memoir) and her World War II diaries, Among You Taking Notes: The Wartime Diary of Naomi Mitchison, 1939-1945.
Many of her books are available here.