One of the fun things about renting a vacation house/cottage/cabin from VRBO or similar, is the possibility that the owner and previous guests have left behind books. In the past, this has led to some interesting situations. In one case I reorganized the shelves into fiction and non-fiction and then alphabetized the fiction by author. In another, at a house in Tuscany, I spotted a lesser-known Willa Cather novel that I didn’t remember reading before. When I opened the front cover I was confronted with my own name and the date I finished reading it when we had stayed at the house two years previously. Always traveling with plenty to read, it is rare that I actually find something that I want to read. Although it was a cheap pensione in Florence where I found my first Brookner. And at a hotel in Phuket I picked up and devoured Her Fearful Symmetry. There are also the situations where a I want to steal books from the room as I wanted to at the George Hotel in Rye. You can read about that incident here.
This year the house we stayed at the first week in Maine had lots of books to ponder. And they were nice and old and eclectic. I resisted the urge to tidy them up. I kind of wanted to, but this time we had John’s family staying with us and I didn’t want to expose them to my mania. Plus I was also kind of relieved that I could resist the urge. Felt like a very grown-up moment.
The second house we stayed at was a huge let-down on that front. In the first place, there was no ledge or shelf where books had been left behind. There was one sad little spot under a table where they had some books, but it didn’t have the same effect. Even more problematic was the fact that someone (the owner?) was clearly trying to proselytize with 90% of the books being religious devotional and self-help books. I guess its fine for those who like that kind of thing but it seemed like a hostile, anti-literary act. Especially when some of the books were by Charles
Swindle Swindoll. I found it such a dire condition that I refused to leave behind the couple of books I had intended to leave behind. Even though I no longer wanted them, I felt they deserved better company.
Needless to say, all of these photos are from the first week.