Thursday, August 7, 2014

Vacation books

A lot of the time I don't pay very careful attention to just what all I'm reading. I am surrounded by books working at a library, and while I don't read indiscriminately, I do read omnivorously and rapaciously. Er, well, sometimes I read a little indiscriminately. Things pile up into a confusion of literature. I don't finish books because they get lost in some drawer, need to get checked back in, or because my occasionally fragile attention gets pulled to some shiny new bauble of a book that I've come across in my relentless library wanderings.

However, being on vacation means being disconnected from the library for 18 days. This means I am forced to rely on my own library and whatever I have gathered and checked out. There is a pretty good collection of books at the lake house my wife and I are staying at, but I've seen them and they consist more, to me, of curiosities than of a lot of things I feel serious about reading. And I am reading a lot these days. Indeed my plans for vacation center on reading (well, on reading and on not seeing moose). So in the past several days I have been collecting a stack of books to read on this vacation. These books include a combination of what I have been enjoying lately, what I am pretty sure of liking, and what seems like they might be interesting gambles. But perhaps most importantly for the subject of this blog post they represent a very specific list of books I am intending to read in a specific time period. I am presented with an opportunity to take a kind of census of my reading ambitions and opportunities over an 18 day period. It's kind of a naked list. I only have so many books, so I don't have much room for books that secretly make me look good or for things that are too experimental or challenging. It's vacation.

I have decided to list my collected books, my small, intentional, vacation library. Then I will report back at the end of it as to what I actually read, how I liked it, and if I learned anything fascinating about my reading habits.

I hope I don't learn anything fascinating about my reading habits. That sounds a bit frightening.

Here is the list with a modest amount of commentary:

Vacation books for 18 days (in no order)

1. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett 

I am, as you will see, on a strong Terry Pratchett kick. I consider this likely to be read.

2. Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

Also likely to be read.

3. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

I am least interested in this one and expect my Terry Pratchett binge to fizz out here.

4. Congo by Michael Crichton

Once upon a time I found his books super compelling, but never read this one, so I thought I might like to see...

5. Hercule Poirot The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie

Read the first fifth or so of these before getting sidetracked. I feel there is a good chance I will read more of these.

6. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Looked good while shelving, but I consider it the absolute least likely to be read of all these books

7. How Green was my Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Also pretty unlikely, but I am looking for some scenic magic I think.

8. The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter

See above!

9. The Cat Who Came For Christmas by Cleveland Amory

No, not a mystery, an eighties bestseller (though I would have guessed sixties!). I am still searching for the great cat book. It's like a quest!

10. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

It seems like every single time I shelve in fiction, I shelve this book. I have finally succumb.

11. The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde

Advance reading copy of an absolute favorite author's new book. I have had it, thanks to Marcus, for a couple weeks and have been holding off on reading it for the lake house. This is the single book I feel absolutely certain that I will read. It is the third in a fabulous YA series (Chronicles of Kazam), and I was going to read the first two in preparation, but, a. I can't find them though I thought I had them here somewhere, and, b. I remember them pretty clearly since I read them like four times last summer.

12. Mama Makes Up Her Mind by Bailey White

Late addition of a witty, tone rich nineties bestseller that I found laying around when I went to gather these books for this blog post. The book is basically blog posts, or, well, all right, short essays. I am surprised to see this is the only reread on my list.

13. New Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

Surprise addition to the terrific urban fantasy series (Night Watch, which is curiously unrelated to my book number three!). Immensely and enjoyably Russian.

That's it, 13, and yet I am vaguely worried I don't have enough. I probably do have enough, but I also feel a strange compulsion to go pick up a copy of Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row. I don't know why. I thought I might like to reread them.

I will report back. Wait here.

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