Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vacation Reading

Here's a photo of the beach in Malibu, where we went to visit old friends of my husband's yesterday. If you click on the picture, and look closely, you can see one of my sons waving at me, and the other one ignoring me, while they boogie board.

I remember last summer a bunch of bloggers I know and love (really, kisses to all of you) blogged about the concept of "summer reading". I remember some of the bloggers were, shall we say, disdainful about the term "summer reading", as they didn't get why reading in the summer should be different than reading any other time.

I understand their argument, but as I've been nearing the start of my only actual summer trip, I've been thinking a lot about what books I want to bring, and I've realized that I do think differently about books to read on vacation, summer or otherwise.

First of all, I always have to think about something light yet immersive to read on the plane. I'm not the world's most comfortable flyer, so if I can concentrate on a book at all, it needs to be something that really grabs me. Sometimes that's a tall order. Then I need to make sure I have enough books to interest me for the week that I'll be gone, but I don't want to lug hardbacks, especially now that the airlines are making us pay for every bag.

I've pulled a few things from my tottering book pile for my trip to Cape Cod next week:

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, by Maggie O'Farrell
The Photograph, by Penelope Lively
The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson
Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived, by Penelope Lively
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel, by (you guessed it) Amy Hempel

But clearly this is overkill, so I'm going to have to whittle down the pile so that it will fit into my luggage. So obviously I need your help.

Does anyone have any favorites here? Anything I have to take, or absolutely shouldn't, on this list? Or do you have another suggestion that I need to go out and buy immediately? (I have a couple of coupons, so I might actually do it!)

Let me know what you think!

19 comments:

litlove said...

I really loved The Photograph by Penelope Lively, and The Vanishing Act etc, by Maggie O'Farrell. They were both wonderfully gripping, easy reads with a bit extra to them. Very good holiday reading (I'm with you on the flying thing). Have you ever read Barbara Trapido or Eleanor Lipman? I think they are two of my best holiday reads.

And that beach looks gorgeous.

Gentle Reader said...

litlove--thank you for your input! I haven't read Trapido or Lipman, but will look into them. And that beach is gorgeous. It's about 45 minutes away from where we live, but this is the first time we've been all summer. Once I'm there I always think, why don't we come here more often? Oh well...

Matt said...

I read The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald and I enjoy her writing. I came across this book called Summer Reading yesterday! A retired professor hosts a reading club called Page Turners. It sounds very good and it's set in New England! :)

Gentle Reader said...

matt--Summer Reading sounds perfect--set in New England, about a book club--what could be better? I'll have to check it out!

LisaMM said...

I haven't read any of those, but have fun! I see you have two authors there with the first name Penelope.. what are the chances??!!

Mrs S said...

Take The Vanishing Act - I loved it - and it is written in lots of small sections so perfect for picking up and putting down on holiday

Gentle Reader said...

lisa--I know, what are the chances? Both British. I haven't read Penelope Lively yet, but am looking forward to it!

mrs. s.--I've heard good things about The Vanishing Act, and have worked up some enthusiasm for reading it, so I'm pretty sure it's coming with me on this trip! Thanks for stopping by :)

Seaside Book worm said...

I love the beach.. I live on the beach all year long. If you can believe it because I live here all year long. I hardly ever go. I guess you take it for granted. If I move I will be sorry. Any way getting bigger and better things. This is the first time I am reading Women's lit. I have never read one before. Usually I will read something that will grab me, but not chick lit. Right now, I am reading Barefoot. I am half way done. It is not a beach read but it is not literary either. I do not want to recommend since I have not finished it. I will just add in the summer I would like to read a book just for escape and enjoyment. Not to think about. I needed a break since I read two books that were very intense. And, yes there is a difference for me in the summer to the winter months of books. I would never read a beach read in the summer( lighter reading).

Seaside Book worm said...

woops!! I mean't I would never read a heavy book in the summer unless it is a book club book.

Tara said...

The Bill Bryson book is fantastically entertaining - great for a plane ride.

Lesley said...

The only one I've read is the Bryson book, which I really enjoyed. He actually made me interested in visiting Australia, one of the few places I'd never before been keen on. It's not as laugh-out-loud funny as Walk in the Woods was, but it was very, very, interesting.

I've seen the Vanishing Act book at the library and it looks very good, so I vote for that one, too.

Oh, actually - I did read The Photograph, and liked it, but it didn't grab me like it did litlove.

Jen said...

hi! hope your summer has been great. i think it was you who recommended consequences. just finished and quite liked it. have ordered the photograph. have a lovely trip and see you in september!

Gentle Reader said...

seaside book worm--I used to live a block from the beach, and I never went then, either! (But I was working so hard at the time, I was never home). Let me know if you like Barefoot...

tara--I've read Bryson's Notes from a Small Island, which I really liked, so I'm hoping I'll like this one :)

lesley--I'm already interested in going to Australia, so I'll bet I'll enjoy the Bryson.

jen--hey, how's your summer been? I don't think I recommended Consequences, but I'd love to hear if you like it! Look forward to seeing you soon!

J.Danger said...

I always use the summer to catch up on school work, so my summer reading is always work! But have fun! Can't wait to hear all about it!

Anonymous said...

I've added Part-Time Indian and Amy Hempel to my pile for you so you can leave them at home. Also Olive Kitteridge. I'm bringing Exit Ghost by Philip Roth, The Book Thief, Brideshead Revisited which I've never read, New England White by Stephen Carter, Netherland, Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (for my book club) and Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky. That works out to about a book a day.

Liz

Bybee said...

I'm probably too late, but do pack the Amy Hempel.

Gentle Reader said...

j. danger--I'll let you know how it goes. Hopefully none of my reading will feel like work!

liz--great, you've reduced my baggage! I'm probably going to bring the bill bryson book, and a few others, but I won't bring those you mentioned--thanks! Can't wait to see you guys :)

bybee--looks like I'll be able to read the Amy Hempel without packing it, as my sister-in-law will be bringing it! I'll let you know what I think, if I get to it on the trip!

Iliana said...

Hope you are enjoying your vacation Gentle Reader! I don't have any suggestions on the books you posted but can't wait to read your reviews :)

Gentle Reader said...

iliana--thanks! I'm hoping to spend most of my time on the beach, reading. That's usually wishful thinking, but a girl can dream, right?