Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Vacation Reading Recap

Everyone should have a reading week like the one I just had.  We're back from vacation and of the 13 books I lugged to the shore for a five-day stay I read ... two.  No matter.  Just having the time to read on the beach and the porch was a gift.

For the first part of the week, my beach read was Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields. I haven't finished writing my review yet, but suffice it to say that this is required reading for everyone who loves To Kill a Mockingbird.  So much of Harper Lee's life is written into the pages of To Kill a Mockingbird, which I never realized until reading this. (I also hadn't realized what a pompous ass and notorious prick Truman Capote was.) Shields' well-written biography is based on at least 600 interviews with people connected to Harper Lee (who is referred to as Nelle, her given name, throughout the book). 

My second beach read was a bit of a disappointment, to put it mildly.  I had been looking forward to reading A Gate at the Stairs by one of my all-time favorite authors, Lorrie Moore, since I bought it last September.  It was one of those books that I was saving for a special occasion, for when I would have uninterrupted long stretches of time to savor every word. 

Maybe I came to this one with too high of expectations or maybe Moore is, as I believe, much better suited to the short story form.  (Her 1998 best-selling short story collection Birds of America is one of my favorite books ever.)  This one has glimmers of promise throughout, but like the cover art, eventually goes nowhere.

Last night I started Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet, a historical novel by Stephanie Cowell.  I'm only a few pages into this but am loving the writing.  I've been looking forward to reading this one since I checked it out of the library a few weeks ago.

Today I have a 1.5 hour drive ahead of me to pick up Betty and Boo from their grandparents, so my Sunday Salon reading will be of the audiobook variety. For the drive up to Philly, I'll be listening to Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortensen and narrated by Atossa Leoni.  (Sadly, the ride back home will be listening to Radio Disney and the likes of The Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber, and the latest Disney-created child celebrity du jour.)     

I'll be trying to take my mind off such driving drivel by remembering this:

To find out more about The Sunday Salon and read other posts from Salon members, click here.

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...

Sounds like a rough ride home. Radio Disney is a wee bit painful at times, so I'm glad you have such wonderful memories to keep you from going crazy. :)

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I'm in the middle of Mockingbird right now! You're so right...about how much of her is in TKAM, but also about Truman Capote!

Here's my salon:

Florinda said...

You're not the only person I've come across who was disappointed by A Gate at the Stairs. At this point, I'm not falling all over myself to read that one.

Bring a couple of those unread vacation books to NYC, and we'll read while we're sitting out those crazy BlogHer parties :-)! (Or else we'll go to The Strand and buy some more. Or we'll do both.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind remarks about my biography of Harper Lee, Melissa.

Say "hey" to Boo.


Charles Shields

JoAnn said...

Mockingbird is going on my list now! Will be looking for your review. BTW, I think 2 books is great for a family vacation week...

Jess said...

Sorry to hear that A Gate at the Stairs is disappointing!