Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Sunday Salon: My Annual Which-Books-to-Take-On-Vacation Post

It is, happily, almost that time.

Time for us to take leave, to board the ferry and set sail (albeit for 85 minutes) to our seaside town that time seemingly forgot and where, for a few glorious days, allows us to forget about time.

We look forward to this trip every year, this pilgrimage to my family's beach house.  My mother-in-law (possibly father-in-law) will accompany us for the first 2.5 days, then The Husband and I will get a few days to ourselves. We require little more than a beach (check), a chair (check), a cool drink (check), sun (looks promising), and a good book or two (check, check).

Or, in my case, a good book or ... um, 13.

Yes.  Thirteen lucky books are awaiting your consideration for me to take on vacation.  This amounts to half the books I read so far this year so clearly, some decisions must be made.  Since I am incapable of deciding such weighty matters, this is where you come in.

My general criteria:  1) a vacation book should, ideally, be from my TBR pile.  That way, if I don't like it, I can leave it at the beach house for someone else to hopefully enjoy.  It also gives me a sense of accomplishment that I've knocked something off Mount TBR.  2) I generally do not take library books to the beach because I abhor sand in the pages and covers, but sometimes I'll cave and reserve them for reading at the house itself, on the porch that gets the ocean breeze or the deck that gets the wind from the back bay.

So, without further ado, here are the books that I'm contemplating bringing for our one-week-long beach trip and the reasons why.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee 
Truth be told, this might be the book I read this week, given that the 50th Anniversary of this classic's publication is July 11 and I'm participating in the celebration of TKAM hosted by two of my absolute favorite bloggers, Dawn of She is Too Fond of Books and Heather from Capricious Reader.  I also don't like to be in the middle of a book upon starting vacation (don't I sound like a delightful trip companion?) so chances are I will be able to finish this by the time we leave. I haven't read this since high school.

Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, by Charles Shields
I bought this at our library's book sale earlier this spring and really want to read this, after re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Liar's Club and Cherry are both by Mary Karr. 
I have Lit checked out from the library right now.  I really want to read Lit.  However, I'm thinking I should read her first two memoirs first.  Yes? No? Your thoughts?  Can one read Lit first and then go back to read these two?  (See, such weighty matters!)

A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore
Among my other vacation-book criteria is that I prefer the author to be a known commodity to me.  There's nothing more satisfying then enjoying one of my favorite writers and having the time to savor every word.  I absolutely love Lorrie Moore.  Birds of America is among my absolute favorite books ev-vah and my favorite short story collection. Now, I know this new one of Lorrie's has gotten mixed reviews, but I don't care.  It's one of those books I've been saving for a special occasion.  (I bought it in September, for goodness sake.)

Glimmer Train Stories, Summer 2010 issue 
I like to read  Glimmer Train on the beach itself.  Makes me look like a cultured intellectual.  I like that people might be wondering what literary treasure I have (and indeed, Glimmer Train is always a literary treasure trove.)   

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
I've been hearing so much about this one and I really want to read it soon.  I love Nicholas Kristof's work.

Claude and Camille: A Novel of Claude Monet, by Stephanie Cowell
A library book, but really ... just look at that gorgeous cover! This just seems to be a book that one should read by the sea, does it not?

How to Be a Sister: A Love Story with a Twist of Autism, by Eileen Garvin
I usually shy away from bringing any autism or special needs books with me on vacation, and chances are, this one might be left home.  But, we're becoming increasingly focused and concerned on Betty's issues as they pertain to her relationship and feelings about Boo, so I want to read this sooner rather than later.  I bought this with the $100 gift card that my former coworkers gave me.

The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal, by Jonathan Mooney
(I've already removed this one - as well as A Slant of Sun by Beth Kephart - from consideration because I'd forgotten that they are both signed.  Signed books don't go on vacation.)

Final Vinyl Days, by Jill McCorkle
I like to have several short story collections to choose from while on vacation.  I'm not even going to mention how long this has been on my TBR shelves.  Let's just say that it has moved with us at least three times in the past 8 years.  Jill also qualifies for the proven-commodity author category.

Another Marvelous Thing, by Laurie Colwin
Because I've never read any Laurie Colwin, and it is probably time to remedy that.  And this looks short enough to read during an afternoon on the porch.

Runaway, by Alice Munro
I've never read any of Alice Munro's short stories, either, and keep hearing how wonderful she is.  This one was also bought during the spring library sale.  (I really need to post the photo from that sale.  I think I bought 56 books for $12.)

Lottery, by Patricia Wood
Also purchased during the library sale.

So, of these lucky 13 books up for contention, which ones would find their way into your suitcase?  (The Husband, who really does not want to see 13 of my books accompanying us and whom I've advised not to read today's post, would be especially appreciative of your help in narrowing down this list.)

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Trisha said...

Yay for To Kill a Mockingbird! I haven't read your other choices, but I've heard great things about Munro. Have fun!

Pour of Tor said...

I just picked up a copy of "Mockingbird" at my local bookstore - I remember it getting great reviews. If you choose the Harper Lee one-two punch, I'll look forward to reading what you think of it.

Niksmom said...

LOTTERY gets my vote. Here's my take on it:

It's not the literary powerhouse some of the others may be, but it's a wonderful book. Also, it's an entertaining read which, frankly, is a necessity for me at the beach. And, f you don't love it and leave it for someone else to discover, they'll enjoy it.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I have Mockingbird on my TBR stacks...I should read it SOON.

I read another of Mary Karr's books recently...very captivating.

I've been meaning to read the two that you have.

Have a great holiday! I long to go to a beach house right about now. It's very hot here.

Here's my salon:

Jenny said...

I'm going to say go with To Kill a Mockingbird for sure... I need to read that one too!! Half the Sky was really good but I'm not sure about it being a "vacation" book so much.

Wendy said...

The Laurie Colwin would DEFINITELY be there :) I love her books. Which reminds me, I should re-read them sometime!

I also think you should bring A Gate at the Stairs because I believe you should read something you love on vacation :)

Have a GREAT time!!

Staci said...

I love To Kill a Mockingbird, so that would get my vote.

Have a great vacation! The beach house sounds wonderful!

Amy said...

What a great list, I would have trouble choosing as well. I have to say that Claude and Camille is on my wishlist so I would consider it!

christa @ mental foodie said...

I have only read Lottery from your list. It was just okay for me - but that's because I prefer plot-driven more than character-driven books, and this one is the latter. It was a fast read. Reminds me a bit of Forest Gump.

My review:

Jodie said...

To Kill a Mockingbird would be my first choice (although you'll want to bring that home). A Gate at the Stairs was also very good.

DemMom said...

To Kill... because it's always worth reading again. Final Vinyl Days, because it's a good one to read when half your mind is relaxed and gazing at the sea. Haven't read Lit, or Cherry, but Liar's Club is very good. I would read in order, but that's just my linear OCD brain. All I know is that I can't wait until my kids are old enough so that I can read a book on/at the beach again!

K A B L O O E Y said...

I've read a lot of those, actually. The Lorrie Moore is better than reviews say, if memory serves. She just writes such great sentences. Not as good as her best short stories, but still a good fat vacation book. But The Liar's Club and To Kill a Mockingbird are two of my all-time favorites, and Cherry is good too. I'd say read the Carrs in order, but then you're reading the best one first. Still, I'd go in order. I'd take TKAM, Liar's Club and Lorrie Moore's latest. Or maybe the Colwin. Argh. I always take too many in case one doesn't "feel right" when I get there. And magazines for the bathroom. Sorry, gross to many, I know. Have a wonderful time.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

I've heard good things about Half the Sky, but don't know much about the others. I managed to only bring 4 books on vacation with me, but I also had my nook and that has a bunch on it. So really, I brought way more than 13 :)

Christina H. said...

"TBR" is that "to be replaced?"

I have to admit, most of these are much more serious choices than I'd take on vacation. I tend to loook for light, fast books I can burn thru because (sadly!) this is one of the only times a year I don't plod thru even the best of books. So some good mysterys will be in my bag. I'm am hoping to swap a friend my copy of "The Girl She Used to Be" for her copy of "The Book Thief."

As for yours, "The Gate at the Stairs" looks good.

Don't forget about "The People of the Book."

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Thanks so much, everyone! Love these comments ... and from reading them (and seeing the now less-than-promising forecast) it seems that all 13 might be coming with me, plus Lit.

Christina, TBR = to be read. Although I like your suggestion of to be replaced (with a new book once it's read!) too.