Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Sunday Salon (7-12-09): Vacation Reading Planning

Our vacation isn't for a couple more weeks yet, but I'm already setting aside the books I'm bringing.

There's a bit of madness to this, I admit. For starters, I must have more books with me than I can possibly read. At the bare minimum, there must be one book for each day of the vacation. Never mind that a brand new library just opened in Undisclosed Location, where the family beach house has been for ... who knows. Never mind that there is an inviting chock-full bookshelf in the robin's-egg-blue bedroom that gets the bay breezes when the windows are open.

The books accompanying me must be by authors of a known quality to me. There's nothing sadder than abandoning ship in the middle of one's vacation. I need to be pretty confident that this is going to be a book I'll love. That's why Beth Kephart is coming along, in the form of Nothing But Ghosts and Into the Tangle of Friendship. Beth will sharing the blue bay-breezed bedroom with Kaye Gibbons and Ellen Foster as I read The Life All Around Me. (I started this on audio recently and quickly turned it off, the writing being so wonderfully rich that I had to read it instead of listening.)

No nonfiction books on parenting or special needs are permitted. I make exceptions for memoirs, however, so Vicki Forman's This Lovely Life will be part of a lovely week by the sea.

Library books are verboten to be read on the beach if they have the cellophane-ish jacket cover. (They can be read on the second story porch with views of the bay and the ocean, depending on what Adirondack chair you're nestled in.) As a teenager, I worked in a library shelving books and nothing was more off-putting to me than handling library books with grains of sand imbedded in the covers. (I still cringe just thinking about it.) Or maybe it was a reminder that the affluent patrons of the library were taking the books to far-flung beaches in the dead of winter that made me so sensory-adverse. Library paperbacks are allowed on the beach.

And finally, there must be a short story collection. It's usually the Best American Short Stories collection or the PEN/O.Henry Stories. I happened to get The 2009 PEN/O'Henry Prize Stories 2009 at the library today - and as a bonus, its in paperback!

Today, as I'm counting the days to vacation, I'm spending time with Cecilia Ahern's There's No Place Like Here (a fitting description of the six-block long, two-block wide enclave that is Undisclosed Location). If you're a fan of Cecilia Ahern's (and I am), this has the magical realism qualities of her previous novels. I'm enjoying this, and it's a fast read so far.

I'm between audiobooks right now, although with lots to choose from. (I've been, um, kind of overdoing it with my library loot lately.) Most likely this week's audio book will be Gilead by Marianne Robinson.

I hope your Sunday Salon reading is being done while on vacation. If so, what are you reading ... and where?


Lori said...

I'm willing to bet that we both vacation in the same general vicinity. I have to take several books with me to the beach and then I spend a good part of the time trying to see what everyone else is reading.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

If it's the little town nestled between Ocean City and Sea Isle, then I'm the chick on the beach chair checking out what YOU'RE reading. :)

Frances said...

As a librarian, thank you very much for your comment about sand and book covers. Sand is also abrasive and will rub both book jacket and cover the wrong way making them look dirty and blurry. Grrr!

You have a great time ahead of you I am sure, and it sounds like you have more than enough reading resources to get you through. I always bring too much!

Thank you for stopping by my blog today, and big thanks for the reading suggestions. I am new to both those authors - always a welcome circumstance.

Today I am reading Dictation by Cynthia Ozick.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

Frances, you're quite welcome - for both the public service announcement (I remember how they would look gritty and dirty - yech!) and the author recommendations. Beth has a wonderful blog at if you want to sample a bit of her writing immediately.

maya ganesan said...

Oh, yes. Beth's books are really good vacation-books, aren't they?

I have to find something to read for my August NY trip! I haven't yet...but I'm going to keep searching. Somehow I have a feeling the plane ride is going to be long.

Stephanie Baffone said...

Hi Melissa,
Hey, I commented on your post regarding the Funerals R' Us. I am the former coordinator of the children's grief and loss program at one of the local hospices...I was SUPER impressed with how perfect you handled your grandfather's passing with your children. It was perfect...for what that's worth.
You go girl!
PS I am sorry to hear about your grandfather.

Stephanie Baffone said...

One more thought...have you read Kelly Corrigan's, The Middle is wonderful! I actually met her personally. A local Philly girl and a wonderful read.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

Stephanie, thanks for the kind words (and sympathies) on my grandfather. We tend to feel that we're making things up as we go with our kids (I guess all parents feel like that, to some extent) so it is nice to hear that we are doing the right thing.

And I haven't read "The Middle Place" yet, but it's funny you mentioned it - it is included in my beach book reading for the vacation. I've heard so many good things about that one that I am going to make a point to get to this one sooner rather than later.

Am enjoying your blog very much, Stephanie, and getting to know you more through your writing.

JoAnn said...

Listed in the fines at my beach library in Delaware is this one:

"Sand in book....$2"

Love it.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

JoAnn - so nice to meet another Delaware beach goer! (In just the last couple days, I've met several Delawareans via this blog ... so great!)

I love that your beach library includes sand in books as among the fines. That's terrific!

Jenny said...

I am also in the process of selecting books to take on our beach vacation in a couple of weeks. My DH just cannont get just how important this is, more important than which bathing suit to pack! So far, Midwives by Chris Bohjalian, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and Fahrenheit 451 have made the cut. Still looking for a couple more. Enjoy your vacation.

okbolover said...

I think that's cool you get books suited for locations it's actually kinda neat :D

I sometimes read on my porch with my kitty sleeping nearby. Weather has been ho hum but I think I'll try reading outside some more.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

Jenny - my husband is the same way. He's an avid reader, too, but will likely bring one or two books to the shore with us. One year he ran out of reading material - I would have had to go buy another two or three books. (Hmmm ... maybe less books is better, for that very reason ...)

okbolover - I hope you get some good outdoor reading weather soon. And nothing is better than reading with a kitty nearby.