I left the country for two weeks with 13 books which totaled 2,625 pages of fiction to read. Since our trip was to Italy and Croatia, this might have seemed foolhardy. But we were also on a boat for much of that time and the flights to and from Europe…so maybe it wasn’t so stupid.
As it turned out, it wasn’t so stupid. I read a respectable 2,137 pages. But 3 of the 9 books I read were not even from the stack I took with me. And then there was one book I did not finish (and won’t–A Schilling for Candles by Josephine Tey–I just wasn’t interested in the 1930s Hollywood/West End actress milieu. So boring to me.). I also read a fair amount of Sebald’s Austerlitz on the plane over, but its lack of dialog started to make me really angry. To the point where I wanted to leave it behind on the plane. But I decided that it is probably a book I will like when I am in the mood for that sort of thing.
Anyhoo, here is the recap, and the winner of my contest.
6/9 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, 103 pages
What can I say about this other than it was just a boring drop of medicine to be gotten through before I could read something that was actually enjoyable.
6/11 The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis, 192 pages
I’m not sure why I loathed this gay coming of age story. Maybe because everyone in the book was loathsome?
6/12 Airframe by Michael Crichton, 351 pages
As you will see below for Skyfaring, and my overall obsession with Nevil Shute, that I have a thing for commercial aviation. So when I saw this in the ship’s library I couldn’t resist. I know from reading Jurassic Park (before the movie was made) and The Andromeda Strain (before I saw the movie) that Crichton writes fascinating plots. And this was certainly that. His writing kind of sucks and his characterization is straight out of the Hollywood playbook, but a fun read that is perfect for vacation.
6/13 The Tenth Man by Graham Greene, 157 pages
Almost a fairy tale–in the Grimm sense of the word. Very interesting.
6/15 Skyfaring by Mark Vanhoenacker, 329 pages
A memoir of sorts by a commercial airline pilot. Although the book is full of great details about all the stuff that pilots do, I wish there had been more of that sort of detail. At lunch sometimes I watch YouTube videos of air traffic control recording transcripts and I wanted more to feed that obsession. It was well written, I just wasn’t in the market for the author’s philosophical musings on space and air and time and place, etc.
6/16 Minnie’s Room by Mollie Panter-Downes, 125 pages
When I finished this all I could think was “It was fine, but I don’t get all the fuss about MPD–or at least this volume.” Then come to find out, I read it 5 years ago and didn’t remember anything about it. At no point in my re-read did any of it seem familiar. I know I am getting old, but I think this says more about how humdrum this slim volume is.
6/17 Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, 336 pages
Another book I found in the ship’s library. I was enticed to read it because it falls into the “everyone has read it and it is still fairly new” category which I rarely read. Hmm. I like Ng’s writing (and I like her as a human on Twitter), but I found the plotting really clumsy and hackneyed. This could be one of those books where I list out all of the many ways it made me roll my eyes. But life is too short. And that is petty. But not beneath me. But still, life is too short.
6/19 Open City by Teju Cole, 259 pages
Yet, another book I found in the ship’s library. I really enjoyed this story of a Nigerian doctor doing his residency in NYC. Quite poetic and full of interesting ideas. Because it was the ship’s book I had to leave it behind. But I liked it enough that I will probably purchase a copy for myself so I can read it again one day. I think I am also going to buy one for a friend who I think would like it.
6/23 Siracusa by Delia Ephron, 285 pages
Totally fun read. More of a film script. Made more fun by the fact that I read it while I was in Siracusa.
So who won my page count contest?
Ali from Heavenali, with her guess of 2,143
Not only does she win a novel of her choice from the Book Depository, she wins two novels of her choice because she came within 25 pages. She was only 6 away! What would I have done if she guessed it bang on the nose?