Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vacation Reads

So, I have started packing for my vacation which begins Friday, and, naturally, I already have a stack of books that I'm thinking about bringing with me.  Proof of my obsession with reading:  though I have not packed a single garment, I have no less than NINE books selected for my 10 day vacation.  Riiight.  Since I am not spending this vacation locked in a hotel room, I sincerely doubt I need this many, and must whittle the pile down to something managable.  But it's so hard.  I have so many unread books that I own, and I never feel like I'm making any progress.  I don't know why I persist in this fantasy that I will someday have read all the books I own.  Nevertheless, I'm making an effort.

At the moment, I have well over 100 books on my to-read bookshelf, probably closer to 150 if I include all the children's classics and the travel and food memoirs on my cookbook shelf.  I have resolved only to bring paperback books I own on this trip -- that way if they're lost in my luggage, I won't owe the library; plus they're smaller and lighter than hardcovers.  I've tried to select a good variety, and I'm concentrating on the books that have been around unread the longest. 

I'm thinking I could reasonably bring five or six books -- most of them aren't terribly long, and I will have at least six or seven hours to kill during travel time.  Last summer, I went to California for a week and brought David Copperfield and Dreiser's An American Tragedy with me.  Not exactly light beach reading -- though I seriously brought Dreiser to the beach. 

Anyway -- I'd love some opinions.  Which books should I bring and which should go back on the pile for later?  I know I'll have extras, but I get nervous if I don't have enough choices.  Here are the nominees, alphabetically by title:

1.  The Apprentice:  My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin.  A food memoir, yum.  Sadly, I'm not going to Paris. 

2.  Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber.  A literary romance about an Arab-American woman who works in a restaurant.  Middle Eastern food fiction, includes recipes.  I might actually be cooking, so this is a good candidate.

3.  Giants in the Earth by O. E. Rolvaag.  Pioneer fiction about Norwegian immigrants living in the Dakotas.  Given to me by my good friend Paul when he found out I was moving to Nebraska.  Ten years ago!  I think it's time I got around to reading it.  (In my defense, he also gave me My Antonia, which I've read twice and loved.  Willa Cather is awesome.)

4.  Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes.  Short stories, always a good choice while traveling.  And I haven't read a single one of my Persephone books yet.  Might be too heavy for summer reading, though. 

5. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson.  Another Persephone classic, still sadly unread. 

6.  Perfume From Provence by Lady Winifred Fortescue.  Another food memoir -- the blurb compares it to Peter Mayle, but written fifty years earlier.  And it's illustrated by E. H. Shephard, who wrote Winnie-the-Pooh.  I bought this more than 10 years ago at the French pavilion at Epcot. 

7.  Stardust by Neil Gaiman.  I LOVE Anansi Boys, and I bought this after I saw the Stardust movie adaptation, which I really enjoyed.  However, I just finished a book of his short stories -- maybe I should save it since I've finished almost all of his works. 

8.  Summer by Edith Wharton.  I'm quite sure I'll bring this one because it's the August read for my library's book group. 

9.  The Summer Book by Tove Jansson.   I loved the Moomintroll books as a child so I just had to buy this when I saw it at Bookpeople, the best independent bookstore in Texas.  Plus it's short, only 170 pages.  With illustrations!

So -- I'm thinking three in my carry-on (must have choices!) and three in the suitcase.  Too many good books!  Sigh.


  1. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is an absolutely adorable book and would be perfect for a summer vacation! Very breezy, sweet and enjoyable. I've brought Virginia Woolf and George Eliot to the beach on my last two holidays and I have to say, Miss Pettigrew would have been much more fun!

  2. Stardust is a perfect fast, easy to read book, and I enjoyed it even more than the movie. :)

    PS - I'm tweeting out a link to this post to get some others to come help you decide. :D

  3. Carolyn -- Miss Pettigrew is definitely going in my carry-on. I started reading the introduction last night and it looks great. But none of her other books are in print, which is terribly annoying.

    Amanda -- I also have the audio checked out from the library, I'm going to download it onto my ipod and bring it as well. It's narrated by the author which should be great.

  4. Of this list, I've only read Stardust. I agree with Amanda that it's better than the movie--very whimsical and fun. But since you already know the basic storyline, I would save it. Crescent sounds really good and I adore Edith Wharton. I vote for those two at least!

  5. We must have similar reading tastes! 1,3, and 4 are on my amazon wish list, while 5, 8, and 9 are on the immediate tbr pile. Hope to get those three read this summer. I don't think you'll go wrong with any of these choices!

  6. Jennifer -- Stardust, Crescent, and Summer are definite musts. I've decided nothing too heavy after last year's vacation reads.

    JoAnn -- we definitely have a lot of books in common. I was just looking at your 2010 reviews -- I almost put Julia Child on my vacation list as well, since I just watched Julie & Julia again. I finally chose Jacques Pepin just because I've owned the book longer. I definitely want to read My Life in France this summer. Too bad it's so hot here in Texas, I'd love to cook some of her recipes!

  7. I fancy the sound of Giants in the Earth and the Willa Cather link is a good omen, I think. I always like a good war-time story so I would take no.4 too. The Summer Book would be a definite for me also.
    Have a great holiday!

  8. Katrina -- this is so hard because I want to read all of them! And I volunteered at the library today and could not resist checking out Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (it's so short!). Maybe I'll just close my eyes and pick, or let the kids choose for me.

  9. I read "the Apprentice" about five years ago -- I really enjoyed it! in fact, it was a vacation read :-).

    I have Miss Pettigrew, but still haven't read it --it's been sitting in my TBR for quite a while.

    Have fun with the books you take with you!

  10. I'm sure you have already made your choices, but it looks like you have lots of good possibilities. I read Summer years ago and was just recently thinking I need to reread it! And Crescent sounds good, too--I have it on my shelves as well. Have a great vacation.