Vacation Books


As I wrote about earlier this week, I plan to unplug from everything but music while we are in Maine for two weeks. This means I will have plenty of time to read. I may be overly optimistic with this pile, but I want to make sure I have something for every mood. I realize as I look at the photo, that I don’t have enough lightish contemporary fiction, just the Lipman and Lively. I might need to rectify that.

In picture order:

May Sarton – The Birth of a Grandfather
Not only do I love Sarton, but part of this book takes place in Maine.

George Eliot – The Lifted Veil
James Joyce – The Dead
Italo Svevo – The Nice Old Man and the Pretty Girl
Edith Wharton – The Touchstone
Mark Twain – The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg
Sarah Orne Jewett – The Country of the Pointed Firs
These are all from Melville House Publishing’s The Art of the Novella Series. And since I took up Frances’ TAOTN reading challenge for August, I figured I better bring a few along with me. I have already read the Sarah Orne Jewett but I don’t think I paid very close attention to it and it takes place in Maine, so I had to include it.

Elizabeth von Arnim – Elizabeth and Her German Garden
I loved that other book of hers, the name of which totally escapes me at the moment and I refuse to click open another browser to remind myself. Something about a summer Italy. Boy howdy why can’t I think of it. Oh well, you guys will tell me.

Muriel Barbery – Gourmet Rhapsody
Although I own it, I haven’t read the Hedgehog book and I understand this was written prior to it. You know how I like to read things in order.

Edward Lewis Wallant – The Tenants of Moonbloom
Howard Sturgis – Belchamber
I decided I needed to include a few from my very large NYRB Classics pile. Although I enjoy most of their books, and have found some that I turly loved, there is something about them that makes starting one seem daunting. I think it is because they often take me out of the cozy cardigan zone.

Elizabeth Taylor – A Game of Hide and Seek
May Sinclair – Life and Death of Harriet Frean
Emily Eden – The Semi-Attached Couple and The Semi Detached House
Speaking of cozy cardigans, I have to include some old VMCs.

Penelope Lively – The Road to Lichfield
Here’s hoping this one is closer to Consequences than it is to Moon Tiger. I liked MT, but would prefer the lighter side of Penelope on this trip.

Elinor Lipman – Then She Found Me
She will never top the joy of The Inn at Lake Devine, but EL is always  good for a quick, enjoyable read.

Alexandre Dumas – The Count of Monte Cristo
When we took a road trip back several years ago I read The Three Musketeers for the first time and loved it. Hoping for a repeat of that experience.

Do you think I have enough? Have you picked out your summer vacation reading pile?

21 thoughts on “Vacation Books

  1. Melissa July 9, 2011 / 5:00 pm

    What a great pile! I love reading books on vacation that are set in the same place where I am staying. (Or close to it.)

    I'm in the minority of people who completely disliked Elegance of the Hedgehog. I'll be interested to see your thoughts on this one of Barbary's.


  2. Cornflower July 9, 2011 / 5:30 pm

    I loved The Country of the Pointed Firs, and as a result of reading it I want to visit Maine.
    Your pile looks great, though it's far larger than I would take as holidays never seem to afford me very much reading time!


  3. winstonsdad July 9, 2011 / 5:30 pm

    wonderful selection thomas have fun ,all the best stu


  4. agoodstoppingpoint July 9, 2011 / 5:45 pm

    It seems like enough, especially with the Dumas tome thrown in there. I haven't read any of the books except for Jewett's, which is a perfect choice for your vacation destination. Count me in with Melissa for being someone who did not like Elegance of the Hedgehog.

    – Christy


  5. StuckInABook July 9, 2011 / 7:04 pm

    It's The Enchanted April :)

    And I'm another who didn't like Elegance of the Hedgehog. I dohave The Gourmet though (presumably the same book, under a UK title?)

    And of course I'm mostly excited about the VMCs. Enjoy! I've read Taylor and Sinclair, but not the Eden – although I have it waiting on my shelf, so will be interested to hear what you think.


  6. aliterarywayfarer July 9, 2011 / 8:09 pm

    The Country of the Pointed First is good, and Life and Death of Harriett Frean is excellent. I'm really looking forward to your thoughts on The Semi-Attached Couple and The Semi Detached House and the George Eliot title. I've been looking forward to reading the first for awhile; I haven't read the George Eliot one yet, but she's a favourite author.

    Have a great vacation, Thomas!


  7. reviewsbylola July 9, 2011 / 8:16 pm

    Great pile! I hope you enjoy Gourmet Rhapsody more than I did. I much preferred The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Have a nice trip!


  8. Jim Murdoch July 10, 2011 / 2:42 am

    That lot would take me about six months to read. Last year I read 30″ of books. This year I’m up to 23″ but there have been some thicker books this year. How do I know? I have ‘to read’ and ‘read’ shelves. Last year I read a full shelf of books.


  9. Darlene July 10, 2011 / 9:12 am

    We're just finishing up a holiday week but with things to do around the house and a couple of day trips I read less than ever. Not a good feeling.

    You look to be well prepared with a great stack of books. The Elizabeth Taylor is one of my favourites. I hope John is taking just as many so he doesn't feel ignored!


  10. C.B. James July 10, 2011 / 11:00 am

    I think you have enough. I always travel with more books than I can read, just in case I find I don't like one of them. I want to have a back up. I also travel with only copies of books I can leave behind when I finish them. This makes room in the suitcase for the books I'll buy while on vacation.

    If travelling in an English speaking country, I don't take as many because I'll just end up buying books as I go anyway. There are some very nice little bookshops in Maine. I like the one in Thomaston quite a bit. That's near Rockland.

    By the way, I did pick up an Anita Brookner book from my local library yesterday. I got Making Things Better.


  11. Brenna July 10, 2011 / 12:54 pm

    Wow that is an impressive stack of vacation reading. I really enjoyed Eliot's The Lifted Veil, so I hope you get around to that one. I haven't read Barbery's Gourmet Rhapsody, but The Elegance of the Hedgehog was one of my favorite books I read last year.

    Enjoy your vacation!


  12. litlove July 10, 2011 / 1:34 pm

    Ooh I do love holiday reading. It's more important for me than packing clothes or maps. That's a great selection you have there, although I wouldn't have thought of Penelope Lively as being a less literary writer than May Sarton or Elizabeth Taylor. I would gladly take that lot off your hands and run away to a lakeside cabin with them all. ;)


  13. Biblibio July 10, 2011 / 1:52 pm

    In my mind, The Count of Monte Cristo is more exciting, more entertaining, more epic and overall better written than The Three Musketeers (which I also loved). Basically, it's really long but it's one excellent book.


  14. Read the Book July 10, 2011 / 2:32 pm

    I love, love, love Jewett's “The Blue Heron” (and try to teach it as much as possible despite much student grumbling), and I envy you getting to read it in Maine!

    Have a wonderful vacation!


  15. Rose City Reader July 10, 2011 / 5:26 pm

    There is nothing so fun as choosing a stack of vacation books! And I always pick more than I could possibly read.

    Just save time to eat some lobster.


  16. sarahsbooks July 11, 2011 / 7:38 am

    A lovely list. One thought – “The Solitary Summer” is a sequel of sorts to “Elizabeth and Her German Garden” – if you can find a copy it would be well worth bringing along. One of those books (rather like “The Country of the Pointed Firs”) in which nothing much happens in the way of plot, instead just lots of quiet descriptive prose. Extremely restful. I dearly love all three of these books. (I cannot say the same of “Hedgehog” but that's another story.)


  17. Nan July 11, 2011 / 11:01 am

    I really, really love Country of the Pointed Firs. It is an old kind of writing, but I find myself becoming calm, and slowing down, each time I read it. I've been interested in the 'Attached and Detached' books for a while. We take 'staycations' these days, but I do have a mini-pile: another author who lived in Maine, Elisabeth Ogilvie's The Seasons Hereafter; Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan; and one I'm trying to get from a library called The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore. I wish you happy reading on your trip!


  18. Thomas at My Porch July 11, 2011 / 1:42 pm

    Melissa: I have noted the two Barbary camps in the blogosphere. It will be interesting to see where I fall.

    Karen: I tend to bring too much along. But this vacation is really engineered for lots of down time.

    Stu: Thanks.

    Christy: I wonder if there will be any pointed firs near our cottage.

    Simon: Thanks for the title. I will see if Maine is conducive to VMCs. The fresh New World ocean air may not be suitable. :)

    Virginia: The Semi omnibus definitely has my interest piqued at the moment.

    Lola: The consensus seems to be against Barbary. We will see.

    Jim: See Jim I fool myself by counting number of books instead of pages. That way all those novellas count just as much the Dumas.

    Darlene: John has not taken the Luddite pledge so he will be surfing the 'net.

    CB: I usually take books that I don't mind leaving behind. But none of the books in my TBR pile are expendable and I didn't want to add to the pile. Since we are travelling by car I have more ability to move books around. Thanks for the tip on the bookstore. I remember years ago driving by a bookstore near Rockland that we didn't have time to stop into. This time…

    Brenna: I think the thinner of the novellas (including the Eliot) are going to be breakfast reads.

    Litlove: I wouldn't call Lively less literary. But books like The Photograph and Consequences use such accessible prose that they don't feel as challenging as Sarton or even Lively's Moon Tiger.

    Biblibio: Good to know about The Count. I think the Dumas is going to be my TV. Whenever I am needing something entertaining and episodic I will “watch” another episode of The Count.

    RTB: I am looking forward to revisiting Jewett.

    Rose City: Oddly enough I am not a huge Lobster fan. I am a cheap date.

    Sarah: Plotless is one of my favorite qualities in a book.

    Nan: Based on your comment I think I might read the Jewett first to help me downshift.


  19. ravingreader July 11, 2011 / 3:55 pm

    Oooh. What a great selection of books… and how nice to have a whole fortnight to peruse them…I really enjoyed the Count of Monte Cristo – but it's very long…!


  20. JoAnn July 12, 2011 / 8:38 am

    What a wonderful stack of books! You'll have something to suit any mood. I loved The Count of Monte Cristo and hope to get to The Three Musketeers some day.


  21. Relish July 12, 2011 / 3:37 pm

    Good luck with the Count of Monte Cristo! It's supposed to be just great but my poor boyfriend spent many a weekend trying to plow through that one!


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