The books of an unrepentant traveler

Elena Barraquer likes to read so much that she can't always afford it.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
12 May 2024 Sunday 16:38
8 Reads
The books of an unrepentant traveler

Elena Barraquer likes to read so much that she can't always afford it. Because if she gets hooked, she doesn't do anything else. She is able to stay up until three in the morning (which she regrets the next day). So she leaves it for the summer, when she's on vacation. Or for travel. Between conferences and medical expeditions, she flies at least once a month, and they are always long trips.

His first charity trip was with a team of ophthalmologists from Washington. At the head of the Barraquer Foundation, they began cooperation in Senegal twenty years ago, and that would lead them to create the foundation that bears her name in 2017, with which they frequently go to Mozambique and other places.

They carry minimal luggage. The iPad is comfortable: it allows you to read, listen to music and check email; “The blue light thing has no basis.”

She only keeps those books that have a meaning, on a shelf designed by her friend Javier Alcántara, in charge of renovating the apartment without corridors in which she has lived since she returned to Barcelona in 2003. The family bought the building when it had to be expanded. the clinic.

Made of wood, the shelf runs along one wall of the large living room and, separated by a sliding door, from the guest room, where she has put the photo albums since her children – who are dedicated to electronic music – occupied the room. from the TV.

On the shelves there are those of Stefano and Rodrigo themselves, and of King Felipe VI during the presentation of an award, and of a patient from Bangladesh whom the doctor convinces not to remove the bandage after an operation.

Also a painting by Perico Pastor, an ophthalmologist Barbie that they gave her to thank her for her advice, and above, bestsellers from when she was a teenager, such as Mila 18, by Leon Uris, or Irving Wallace. He then he always read before going to sleep; for example Exodus, when he was 15 or 16 years old, which included photos from the film: “There was one of Paul Newman that was like a train, and I think I was dreaming about him.”

She organizes the books by languages ​​and by collections, such as one of classics that her grandmother bought her at the Círculo de Lectores, or those that she would later acquire in old bookstores in the United States, where she spent eleven years: Ivanhoe, Uncle's Tom cabin, The Scapegoat, by Daphne du Morier.

He did his specialty at Harvard and before that, his intership in Baltimore, where everyone reads The House of God, by Samuel Shem, about the interns at Beth Israel Hospital.

After finishing his studies, he bought an armchair in an antique shop in Mariland which, while he lived in Turin, he upholstered with a print by the painter Fornasetti full of books. In transit, he got rid of the pocket ones. Now many end up in the foundation's solidarity store.

She is the eldest of three siblings and the fourth generation of ophthalmologists. She saw her father and her grandfather enjoying the profession and wanted to do the same.

He keeps a bowl from his grandmother on a large table, on which there are also volumes of art - by Elisa Arimany, Joan Colom, Ràfols-Casamada -, several dedicated to Luis Bassat, and other gifts, such as fountain pens, or biographies of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.

He doesn't remember the first book he bought, but he does remember the first record: Help, a 45 revolution. She was eleven years old. She associates the stories of The Five with Rock around the clock. She loves 70s music, which plays on the Spotify playlist in the operating room and she hums, which calms her patients.

On weekends he reads on the sofa next to the window that overlooks the terrace. She is very fast and she really likes novels, but with crime novels she needs a break because she is scared; She is tempted to do the same as Joey from Friends: put them in the freezer. Especially with The Silence of the Lambs, which scares him more than the movie.

A Puerto Rican friend who lives in Miami recommends books to her, and she had one pending that she had downloaded to her iPad. She decided to read it on a trip to Nigeria. It was titled The girl with the louding voice. She then discovered that the author, Abi Daré, was Nigerian and that the story was about the place she was going.