Remember that stack of 17 books I was planning on reading while I was in Maine? Well, let’s just say I didn’t quite make it to 17. BUT, I only missed it by 12 books. Yes, that’s right, I only read five books. Bookertalk was my first commenter on that post and she was right with her guess of five. Like most of the rest of you who commented, I expected to read more like 7 books during the two weeks Maine. And for the first week I was on track to do better than that. By the time the first seven days were over I had read 4.75 books. So what happened the second week that I only managed to read a quarter of a book? I can sum it up in two words: people and puzzles.
The first week there were a total of nine of us in the house with four oldies, two 21-year olds, and then one each at 15, 13, and 11. How in the world did I manage to read 4.75 books, do two 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles, learn how to play backgammon, and kayak almost every day? Looking back I am not entirely sure, but the rest of the house went on a fair number of excursions which allowed me totally uninterrupted reading time.
I would like to say that staying completely off of social media for 14 days also helped with my book count, but that had no effect the second week, so maybe that wasn’t as much of a factor as I think. I may have spent more time at the puzzle table than the first week, but the real reason was lots more visiting and sightseeing with guests and a four-day saga of trying to get a hold of my Dad’s luggage that decided to vacation in Tampa rather than Maine thanks to Delta.
Before you go nutty, here are the five books I read on vacation:
The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland (8/1/16)
Being Dead by Jim Crace (8/3/16)
Light of Day by Eric Ambler (8/4/16)
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing (8/8/16)
Oh dear. That’s only four books. I guess some of the partially read books (Paradise News and The Woman Upstairs) and one DNF (Leaving Atocha Station) clouded my memory on this front. I can say unequivocally that the four books that I did finish were all pretty spectacular. In fact, Being Dead has ascended into being one of my favorite books for the year, but more on that another day.
But surely I must have spent so much time in the many used bookshops I visited over the two weeks, right? I popped into a few, but for the most part I wasn’t really in the mood to look for anything other than books by Cecil Roberts. Remember he was the one who wrote that delightful surprise Victoria Four-Thirty that I loved so much. And his books are of a vintage and (lack of) popularity that I knew only a certain kind of dusty old bookshop would give me a chance in hell of finding anything by Roberts.
I could tell with most bookstores along the way that their stock was going to be too new and or too curated to customers’ tastes. But I also knew there was one bookshop close to the house we stayed at the second week that would fit the bill. When we went to Dooryard Books in Rockland, Maine four years ago, I spent a lot of time combing shelves, dust, and even some musty boxes in the basement. But my overall feeling that time was that I only bought some mildly interesting things because I didn’t find anything that really excited me. This time I thought that the fusty, seemingly neglected stock, would work in my favor. And it did. But some of it wasn’t so neglected.
Although the shop seems like nothing ever leaves and nothing new ever comes in, the presence of these six Shute first editions in really good shape disprove that notion. They sure weren’t there four years ago. And did I mention that all fiction was 50% off? (You may recall from the photo in my last post that I brought an old mass market paperback of The Rainbow and the Rose as part of my stack of books to read. Glad to have found this copy because that brittle paperback probably would not have survived being read.