While I am in the midst of moving boxes from one state to another and getting settled in my new home, I have a handful of fabulous fellow bloggers stopping by to share their moving books(es) ... books that they feel have moved them in one way or another. Today, we get to read a very special guest piece from Chris of WildmooBooks. She is here to talk about books that she has read/reads while on the move. Please give her a very warm welcome!
Moving books. Books on the move. Books on vacation. How do you decide what to take?
Thematic or Place Reading
Back when my family had a beach house on the Outer Banks and we converged there for a week every summer, I set the intention of reading at least one book that was about or set on or in the ocean. What better subject matter to read while you’re right there, lying on the hot sand, slowly un-pruning yourself from hours in the water.
The Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. It’s about the obsession surrounding a sunken WWII German U-boat just off the Jersey shore. Part adventure tale, part history, it’s an excellent book to read next to any body of water. You can’t help but occasionally lower your book to gaze out at the water and wonder what’s going on below the surface.
A Thread Across the Ocean by John Steele Gordon. I walked to the local bookstore the next day and bought a copy. It’s on my To Be Read shelf…maybe this summer.
The Discovery of Vacation Re-Reading
When it comes to vacations where I’m not laying on a beach day-in-and-day-out and have hours of reading time to myself, I used to struggle with vacation reading. Well, to be honest, it wasn’t the reading that I struggled with, it was the people. I’d inevitably get a little resentful about having to put down my book right at the juiciest part, because “it’s time to go mini-golfing!” Or a book would keep me up way too late the night before and I’d not be at my best for family/group/human interaction the next day. And I’d just want to get back to my book.
What to do? What to do? I’ve long enjoyed the pleasures of re-reading and decided that it might be the way to balance reading and humans during the sort of vacation when my time wasn’t exactly my own and I’m expected to/want to interact with others. You know what I mean, right? Or am I sounding crazy to you at this point? I really do love my family.
Anyway, what I like about re-reading is that you know you’ll have a good book in your hands, but since you know what the book is about you can read more responsibly. What I mean by this is that you may not feel as compelled to stay up too late reading to see what happens next. You can also better pace your reading because you may remember that some big shift is coming up and you know you only have ten minutes before you have to get ready to leave for a dinner reservation. And perhaps you won’t want to kill a beloved family member when he or she insists--always during a juicy scene--that you come look at something, help with something, or “get your nose out of a book because its vacation time!” (Okay, I admit, that “nose in a book” example is rare in my family as both sides are full of chronic readers, but it has happened to me and I’ve heard it happens to other people. So rude.)
The first time I tested this vacation reading plan was on a cruise to Alaska that my mother-in-law took us on a few years ago. I knew I’d want to spend non-resentful time with the family and time exploring the ship and the ports. I didn’t want to deal with feeling torn between my book(s) and people or places. Am I sounding like a freak? Can anyone relate?
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck was the one I’d been wanting to re-read the longest, so in the suitcase it went. I’d first read The Good Earth when I was in middle school and I really liked it. The image of the son bringing his old father hot water in the morning to help his hacking cough stayed with me for more than thirty (yikes!) years. I remember wanting to be nicer to my father as I read The Good Earth.
There is the risk of re-reading a favorite and finding it just doesn’t hold up for you anymore, but that wasn’t the case with The Good Earth. Although I vividly remembered a few scenes, other crucial ones I’d completely forgotten, as well as characters, and, really, most of the plot. But I fell in love with the book all over again and it’s one I’ll probably re-read again in the future. (I wrote about re-reading The Good Earth here.)
Combining Thematic or Place Reading with Re-reading.
I’m currently in the midst of planning a road trip in Germany & Austria with my Mom. She’s from Germany but has lived in the States for the last 50 or so years and is turning 75 later this summer. When I asked her what she’d like to do for the big 75 she said drive around Germany. She’s the baby of the family and her last sibling passed away a few years ago, so she feels more freedom to move about the country rather than sit on couches for family visits. However, she’ll be staying longer than me to make time to sit on the couches of cousins and friends.
So, I’m in the pondering phase of which books to take on this trip. I’d like them to be books by German language writers and/or about Germany.
As for the re-read I’ll take along to enjoy for a few minutes each night before bed, I’m thinking it will be The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. I love this book and think it’s one of the strongest fictional arguments for literacy that I’ve ever read. I’ve already re-read it a couple times in English and have a German language edition, but trying to get back into the swing of speaking German while also attempting to read a novel in German might make my head explode, which would leave my mother stranded because she doesn’t drive stick and that’s what we’re renting as manual is standard in Europe.
How do you decide what to read on vacation or during family trips? How do you carve out reading time?
Thank you so much for stopping by Chris! I have always loved revisiting books, but never considered re-reading while traveling or vacationing. That is such a great idea and I think I may just pick up The Good Earth during this crazy time for me for just that reason! Though I do need to make it a point to dive into The Reader! I have never even read that one, though it has been sitting on my shelf for years!