Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Andrew

vacation books

Recommended Posts

Well, I'm 5 days away from leaving for vacation, and I'm wracking my brain for ideas for a couple of good books to take along with me. Lately (with the notable exception of Tommysaurus Rex), I've been leaning towards heavier reads, and I'd like something a bit less demanding.

One possibility that I'm entertaining is Philip Caputo's Acts of Faith - the subject matter of this novel (the war in Sudan) isn't exactly lightweight, but it would be a change of pace from my other readings of late. Plus, I've enjoyed the novels of his that I've read previously, as he's quite deft at moving stories along, with interesting characters. My favorite book of his so far has been The Voyage, a tale of 3 sons of privilege in turn-of-the-century New England who are compelled by their father to go on a sea journey, to force them to grow up a bit - and grow up they do, in ways no-one expected.

Any other suggestions?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll second the recommendation of both Alexander's and McCall Smith's writings - I've enjoyed them, too. Thanks for reminding me of them, though - there are one or two in each series that I've not read yet.

Krakauer is a dynamite writer. I think I've read all of his books - well-written, fascinating explorations of people living at the fringes of 'normal' society.

I'm not familiar with Ishiguro's works - I'll definitely be looking those up.

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just back from my own vacation. Since I'm preparing to write a chapter on E.L. Doctorow, I reread The Book of Daniel and read for the first time Welcome to Hard Times. Daniel is so great; Hard Times is just brutal -- it's a western of the bleak, nihilistic, Unforgiven variety. Not exactly the typical beach read. I also reread Don DeLillo's novella, The Body Artist. I'm still not sure exactly what the book is about, but the language is so beautiful and the tone so other-worldly that it's fast-becoming an unexpected favorite.

Also, I'll use this thread as one more opportunity to recommend my favorite novelist, Philip Roth, and my favorite of his novels, American Pastoral. The film version, directed by Philip Noyce, should be released in the next year. American Pastoral is essentially a 400-page study of one character, a man who is ridiculously successful in all aspects of his life until his teenaged daughter joins a radical anti-Vietnam group like the Weathermen and blows up a small post office, accidentally killing a local doctor. The power of Roth's imagination is just staggering.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On my latest vacation, I read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, which I enjoyed immensely. It's a somewhat surreal British mystery, with lots of great literature in-jokes. Kind of like a Harry Potter/Lemony Snicket feel, but for adults. It's not profound, but it is very clever and entertaining, which are my requirements for a light vacation read.

Edited by Bethany

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in the midst of Rope Burns: Stories From the Corner by F. X. Toole. I'm finding it very good. It is from some of the stories here (mostly "Million $$$ Baby" and "Frozen Water") that they developed Million Dollar Baby for the screen. Some very interesting religious aspect to characters. (More so than Frankie's debate about the Trinity in the film version.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not familiar with Ishiguro's works - I'll definitely be looking those up.

As much as I love Ishiguro I wouldn't put him in the 'less demanding' category. Especially not his earlier works (The Unconsoled particularly springs to mind). However, I would say his "When We Were Orphans" is an absolutely captivating read, it's a detective story of sorts with many twists.

I was gripped from begining to end by WG Sebald's Austerlitz, but again it's not exactly light reading and has quite a particular style to it that some find impossible to follow.

Just because I've recomended the film in another thread and it's fresh in my mind: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It's huge but a definite page turner from begining to end (he even includes a whole chapter dedicated to the structure of Paris' sewers that is absolutely fascinating). Heavy though!

Where are you going? Perhaps we can recomend something approrpiate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're off to Quebec City - a favorite destination of my family's for the past several years.

Thanks for all of the suggestions, everyone - obviously, I hope these ideas will be helpful for others, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does self-publishing actually count if you don't belong to the EFF?

I have been digging into Murakami lately. Kafka on the Shore has lived up to the hype, and for something a bit shorter, The Elephant Vanishes is the best collections of stories I have read since I caught up with Auster's New York Trilogy this summer.

For something both enticing to read and chock full of social and historical tidbits, pick up Michael Chabon's The Adventures of Cavalier and Clay. It is lengthy, but reads very quickly and rewardingly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Summer's not over, so let's bump this thread.

I'll be taking Prince Caspian to Maine in late August, along with some as-yet-undecided audiobooks and, I'm sure, several other fiction and nonfiction print books. But the Lewis is the only one I'm certain about thus far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having LOVED Pascal's Wager, I'm taking another biography by James A. Connor this summer: Kepler's Witch. So far it hasn't grabbed me in the same way, but Connor has a great sense for interpreting history. He explains without being (or, at least, seeming to be) reductionist or overly simplistic, and he knows when to use a broad brush and when to slow down and paint in the details.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right now reading and loving Chabon's new one, The Yiddish Policeman's Union. Holy smokes, can that guy write!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been reading Ben Amos Avner's Funerals, Politics & Memory in Modern France. Fascinating but it ain't exactly holiday reading.

Ummm... let me think... nope. Nope. Haven't read anything for enjoyment all year. *sigh* it sucks being a student sometimes.

I did however go to the Hay on Wye literary fest, and Sole Woyinka was a particularly potent speaker. Perhaps the first installation of his autobiography? It sounded utterly fab and is on my list of 'will devour when finish thesis'.

Edited by gigi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

I should try this one again, shouldn't I? I checked it out on audio, but it's quite lengthy. I got through the first three discs before the title was due back. I remember finding the book striking in the earlygoing, although I lost the story thread somewhere during disc 2. It would be better to have this one in print, I think, where the footnotes, which interrupt the flow in audio, can be consulted as needed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm heading to the beach tomorrow. I'll be working some, but between work and keeping up with four kids at the beach, I hope to get some reading done. My selections:

Theolonius Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original -- a huge hardback that doesn't scream "beach reading," but I've had it on the end table for nearly two years and need to crack it.

American Fantastic Tales: From Poe to the Pulps -- I took this with me to Maine last year and read about 70 pages. Haven't progressed much since. There's a second volume after the first, and an online friend recently encouraged me to dive into that one if I was stuck on this first volume. Can't. Do It. Until the First. Volume. Has Been Read.

On audio:

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (6 discs down, 4 to go) and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (if I finish Catching Fire), both on CD. We're bringing the portable CD player, even though we're transitioning to eaudiobooks. Which brings me to ...

The Social Animal, by David Brooks, which I'm about two-thirds of the way through. And, if I need more, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami.

Prediction: I'll finish one of the audiobooks I'm already most of the way through and won't make much progress on anything else. But a guy can dream, can't he?

What'd everyone else read on their summer vacations?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (6 discs down, 4 to go)...

How long are the CDs? They can't be more than 30 minutes or so each. My wife read all three Hunger Games books this week, and she's not a particularly fast reader.

As for my vacation reading (which was last week...we spent some time at the RPCNA's White Lake camp in the Catskills):

I polished off Pete Dexter's Train in a few days. It was a very good book, but brutal enough that I'd be wary of recommending it to lots of people.

I also read a huge chunk of George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons on vacation. I'm about 70 pages away from completing it. Love, love, loved it. Also made some serious progress on Neal Stephenson's System of the World, which I've been struggling with since January. I'm almost 2/3 done now, though, and I feel like the ball is rolling. I'm going to try to finish it off when I finish the Martin novel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't had a summer vacation (boo, hiss), but in March I spent a week with my family in Williamsburg and read Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked in two sittings. I talk a big game about my reading habits (I just finished an Emile Zola novel -- impressed?) but the truth is I'd rather read a book by Nick Hornby than anyone else. I especially love the three collections of essays from The Believer. They read like the best literature blog ever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Delighted of course to see the love for Murakami there.

I had six days at the beach in July, where I made a sizable dent in Richard Schickel's Scorsese on Scorsese: a terrific page-turner stuffed with insight into Scorsese's style and themes. There were occasions when I wished Schickel would shut up and get out of the way (e.g., at least twice steering Scorsese's talk of faith into his own atheism), but overall it's a wonderful prolonged conversation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In general, I've been trying to fill my summer with decent beach reads. I've been largely successful. When I head down to the beach this week, though, I'm not quite sure what book I'll take with me. Possibly John Fowles' DANIEL MARTIN.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finally finished Neal Stephenson's The System of the World and Greg Wolfe's Beauty Will Save the World. Now I'm turning my attention to a couple of recently released novels: John Dalton's The Inverted Forest and Michael Snyder's A Stand-Up Guy.

Edited by Crow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great to see everyone's vacation reading lists! I forgot to add that I've got Mark Bertrand's Pattern of Wounds here with me, the second in Bertrand's Roland March series. Today I listened to more of my Brooks audiobook and caught up on my Bible reading. Tonight? If I can get off the computer and keep the TV off (it's been blissfully off since we arrived late yesterday), maybe, at last, I'll crack the Monk bio.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (6 discs down, 4 to go)...

How long are the CDs? They can't be more than 30 minutes or so each. My wife read all three Hunger Games books this week, and she's not a particularly fast reader.

I know you're joking a bit, but you raise a good question. I figured YA novels would be "short," but these two books have each run 10-12 CDs. That's not as long as most of the books I listen to, but it's longer than I'd anticipated. I haven't clocked the length of each disc, but my internal clock tells me they tend to run about an hour (my car CD player doesn't show total disc time), which is shorter than most discs of non-YA stuff, which tend to max out the space allowed per disc, or get close to the limit.

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last week at the campground I finished Louise Erdrich's The Round House. I started and completed Anne Thompson's The $11 Billion Year and the eaudio of Elizabeth Strout's The Burgess Boys. On my Nook, I knocked out Chuck Klosterman's I Wear the Black Hat. I also started into Brett McCraken's Hipster Christianity.

 

That makes last week's vacation one of the most productive reading vacations I've ever had, Usually I go on vacation with intentions to complete or make significant progress on a few books, but I'm lucky if, by the end of the vacation, I can check any of the books of my list. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm on semi-vacation right now and I've got with me:

 

In the Ruins of the Church by R.R. Reno

The Orenda by Joseph Boynton

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith

 

About to finish the Reno, and probably going to start on Berry next...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Took a long weekend and dove into some James Wood e-audiobooks. First up: How Fiction Works, which was a struggle because it draws so heavily on authors I haven't read widely, chiefly Flaubert. As much reading as I've done, I haven't read enough of the "right" books to be able to engage extended discussions of fiction that draw on writers with whom I'm not conversant. I always wade into such works hoping to be inspired by the works to explore those authors, but that approach rarely takes.

 

Better is Wood's The Fun Stuff, which starts with an essay about Keith Moon that, despite Moon's grim fate, is actually, well, fun to read. The next couple of pieces are much more morose in their treatment of their subjects, so I'm wondering if the title is ironic. Either way, the collection is more stimulating a few chapters into it (that's how far I've come) than How Fiction Works.

 

Any Wood fans out there? Oh, FYI -- he mentions his own Christian upbringing in one of the Fun essays, but only as a way of describing hurdles/obstacles in life he needed to move past as he grew up. I don't know that he's not a believer now, but he seems to have rejected whatever flavor of the faith was handed down to him by his parents.

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...