Sunday, August 24, 2008

Beach reading


I'm back from a week on Cape Cod, where we get together with my husband's family every summer. We had gorgeous weather, and I had lots of time to read on the beach and at the pool, which was a little slice of heaven. However, there were pitfalls, too, including several plagues--lice and a vicious stomach virus. We managed to stay uninfected until the day we were leaving, when my littlest one came down with the stomach virus, and vomited cross-country on the plane ride. Sorry for the grisly details, but really, it was a trial for me. I don't like plane travel at the best of times, and this was a little slice of hell. However, we are home, and my small one has her appetite back--at last!

Before we left, I threw it out there that I was looking for light airplane reading, and the charming and ever-informative Litlove suggested I find something by Elinor Lippman or Barbara Trapido. I couldn't find anything by Barbara Trapido, but found a book by Elinor Lippman that fit the bill, a novel called Then She Found Me. Apparently it was made into a movie. It was a nice, light, engaging airplane read for the flight out--just right!

While on the Cape, my sister-in-law--who is always looking out for me in the reading department, bless her--brought me a book of linked short stories by Elizabeth Strout called Olive Kitteridge. I really liked this book. Not only was it set in a small town in New England--I always like to read about the places I'm visiting--it was also beautifully written, sad and sweet, and a wonderful study of human nature. I had read an earlier novel of hers, Amy and Isabelle, which I also liked. But to me, this was even better.

Then I got to something that had been languishing on my to-read pile, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, by Maggie O'Farrell. It was a suspenseful read, and terribly sad, and set in Scotland, both in Edwardian times and in the present--I enjoyed the juxtaposition.

I also bought a couple of books while I was there, at the Brewster Book Store, an independent book shop that I've posted about before. I love to support the independents! I bought The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows, which I got through in one day. It was a lovely little book that I had heard about on the book blogs, and when I was at the cash register, the woman behind the counter said I would love it. She was right, it was charming and a page-turner.

I also bought The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, by Helene Hanff, a sequel of sorts to her memoir, 84, Charing Cross Road. 84, Charing Cross Road is one of my all-time favorite books about books and reading, and it's something I find myself re-reading every once in awhile. It was satisfying to read about Hanff's journey to London after the publication of 84, Charing Cross Road, where she finally got to meet some of the people she had corresponded with for so long. But though it was entertaining and well worth reading, it wasn't quite as good as the first book.

And, on the recommendation of my sister-in-law, I bought Beginner's Greek: A Novel, by James Collins--another book to read on the plane. Of course, I didn't get any reading done on the plane on the way home, but I did manage to start the book at least, and I'm finding it to be warm and witty at the same time.

All in all, a great vacation for reading! (Mostly because my kids were totally engaged with their cousins and I barely saw them!) What have you read on vacation this year?

20 comments:

J.S. Peyton said...

I have got get my hands on "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society." Everyone has had good things to say about this book.

Gentle Reader said...

j.s.--It's not weighty, but I found it totally engaging, and it dealt with a historical event that I didn't even know had occurred--the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands. Plus it's romantic!

Leah said...

Sounds like you had a productive reading holiday in lovely Brewster. I remember reading 'The Poisonwood Bible' outside the Candlewick B+B (I think that was what it was called) and down the beach. Gorgeous. I have written down some of your recs to get hold of.

Gentle Reader said...

leah--The Candlewick sounds familiar--there are so many lovely little inns in the area. I had a wonderful week of reading!

Dorothy W. said...

Sounds like a great vacation! Those Hanff books sound very interesting -- I think I'd enjoy the Charing Cross road book. I love books about books and reading!

Gentle Reader said...

dorothy--It's a slim little book, but an old favorite of mine. It was made into a really charming movie, starring Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, and Judi Dench, and it's one of the rare movies that is as good as the book :)

Matt said...

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Schaffer has been all over book blogger's radar! I can see the connection to 84 Charring Cross Road, which I have never read. So I'll get them and read them together.

Hope the little one feels better. Stomach virus is such a pain. I remember my own bout traveling abroad.

Gentle Reader said...

matt--thanks for your good wishes. She is much better now, and eating like crazy to make up for what she couldn't eat before! And both Guernsey and 84, Charing Cross are novels made up of letters, too, so that's another reason they go together :)

Bybee said...

My vacation was a staycation. Sigh.

Gentle Reader said...

bybee--but staycation is such a great word! Sorry you weren't able to get away :(

Iliana said...

Aside from the stomach bug the trip sounds fabulous! :)

I am so glad to hear that Olive Kitterdge is a good one. I really liked Amy and Isabelle.

aloireads said...

that bookstore looks so homey! glad to know you are having a wonderful vacation.

Table Talk said...

Do keep looking for Barbara Trapido, she is well worth the effort. And having read 'The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street' you should move on to 'Q's Legacy' which takes Hanff's story both further back and further on.

Gentle Reader said...

iliana--I really liked Olive Kitteridge, though it's not for the faint of heart!

aloi--it is such a great little bookstore--good stock, friendly people!

table talk--I will keep looking for Barbara Trapido, and wow, I didn't know about Q's Legacy--thanks for the tips!!

Lisa said...

Oh, sorry about the stomach virus on the plane -- I know that was no fun. You've just listed one of my all-time favorites- 84 Charing Cross Rd.-- and one of my newest favorites -- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Olive Kitteridge. I really enjoyed both of these and will probably revisit them at tome point in the future. As far as reading on vacation, I can't remember -- it was back around the first of June! I think I'm ready for another one.

Gentle Reader said...

lisa--I love 84, Charing Cross Road, too--it's one of my "comfort reads", a kind of literary pick-me-up. I really enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (though I'm getting tired of typing the title)--such a charming book. And Olive Kitteridge was really involving--the idiosyncratic small town stuff was so interesting! Hope you get another vacation soon :)

litlove said...

Aww, sweetie, you are too kind. You have my every sympathy for the ghastly plane journey. I would have found that almost intolerable myself. I'm glad to read that she's feeling better now and catching up on food! And that's a great list of books - I will be noting some of the titles down.

Gentle Reader said...

litlove--fortunately the memory of that horrific plane journey is fading even as I type this...I recommend Olive Kitteridge and the Guernsey book, especially :)

Lesley said...

Wow, you got your hands on some great books! Another one by Helene Hanff that I would recommend if you can get your hands on it is Underfoot in Show Business, about her experience trying to make it in the NYC theater world.

And I'm jealous you got to spend your vacation on Cape Cod. I so miss living in New England. Sorry to hear about the lice and stomach bug, though.

Gentle Reader said...

lesley--thank you! Another Hanff book to read--that's great! Yes, I miss living in New England and I've never actually lived there (my husband is from Connecticut, though, and we also have family in Massachusetts, so we visit quite a bit)!