Sunday, June 26, 2011


We leave for vacation this coming week. We’ll be spending 2+ weeks in Sardinia, the plus time being the drive & ferry there and back. Packing space is limited because browndog is coming, meaning the back of the station wagon is half-occupied by her. I’m sharing a suitcase with my daughter, meaning 2/3rds of the suitcase is occupied by her. So I’m making my reading selections carefully.

I don’t really differentiate between summer reading and winter, spring or fall reading. I don’t mind reading snowy gulag books on the beach, or desert books in the dim, rainy fall (which reminds me, I could take The Sheltering Sky!). I think people who like light reading on vacation probably prefer light reading in general.

One tradition I do stick to is reading short stories in summer. This year I plan to read Sherman Alexie’s The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fightfight in Heaven. Another summer tradition is the ‘forcefeed read,’ a book I think I should read but have so far managed to avoid. Last year it was David Copperfield, which I loved. This year it’s Crime and Punishment. I’m really not optimistic. I never am. I bailed on The Brothers Karamazov, for example. But you never know.

I usually do take non-fiction, too. Right now I’m in the middle of Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz, which with luck I'll finish before we leave (freeing up room in the bookbag). On the maybe pile are The Worst Hard Time and Confederates in the Attic. Dunno.

Poetry is hard to pick because if I take two or three books and it turns out I’m not in the mood for them, it’s a disaster. So I like to bring an anthology for the variety. I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking Brute Neighbors, an anthology of urban nature poetry and prose, which Kathleen recommended and has a poem in. It’s small, too, so I won’t have a problem fitting it in my bag. I will be far from the urban, and any wildlife I see will likely be of the sea-creature variety, but I like when a book delivers me elsewhere.

I was going to link to some summer reading lists here, but none of them have books on them I'm particularly interested in. "Bossypants" appears to be dominating this year, which seems to me a good example of high summer fluff.


Kathleen said...

Loving your lists, and you are putting me in the mood for short stories. I am in the baseball book right now, which is also immersing me in American history!

Anonymous said...

I too force feed myself a classic every summer - except I cheat and listen to the audio while I do yard work and weed.

If you haven't read Kevin Wilson's Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, it is one of my favorite collections of short stories.

Have a wonderful vacation!

SarahJane said...

thanks for the tip on the stories, Donna! If I could get English audio books at the library, I would try your trick, too.

toniclark said...

"I think people who like light reading on vacation probably prefer light reading in general."

Tee hee. I won't forget that quip.

Re audio. Use an iPod. Download them from Oddly, I've found that I seem to do better with nonfiction in audio. But haven't really given fiction a fair trial. I loved listening to Susan Orlean's "My Kind of Place" (essays) in audio. Other recent ones were Bill Bryson (the Shakespeare bio), David Kessler (The End of Overeating) and Gary Taubes (Why We Get Fat).

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