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April 24, 2009

Vacation Reading and Other Book Selections

Posted by carol
Jamie Layton, contributor and manager of Duck's Cottage bookshop in North Carolina, shares some of the books she and her family enjoyed on a recent vacation --- including her book club's most recent selection and some others that would great discussion picks. Reading this post made me smile, as Jamie and I seem to travel the same way. The last rental house we were in actually had a room with bookshelves, and I was all too happy to have a place to arrange my books. Unlike Jamie, we toted everything --- and more we picked up along the way --- back with us.

Whenever my family travels, be it by plane, train or automobile, we have a tendency to lug along a good twenty pounds of books. Depending on our destination and its wealth or dearth of local bookstores, we've also come home a time or two with more books than we started out with. A recent spring break to Puerto Rico was no exception.

On the five-hour drive to Washington Dulles Airport I read Giulia Melucci's I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti (which I'm also reviewing this month over on Suffice it to say I Read It, I Loved It, I'll Be Making Spaghetti. Really, its a great little memoir of life, love and relationships interspersed with simple, scrumptious-sounding recipes I can't wait to try. This will be a great summer read!

On the plane, I started The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer, now out in paperback and hitting bestseller lists everywhere. A very interesting look at a small group of friends who, having stayed home to raise their babies who have now reached elementary school, are discovering what comes next. I predict seeing this in many, many beach bags this season.

While I was reading these books, my husband was finishing up Loch Ness Monsters and Raining Frogs: The Worlds Most Puzzling Mysteries Solved (he's into that type of thing) and then he got started on Brimstone, one of the Agent Pendergast mysteries by the team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. We took four of these babies along, so once we hit the beach I pulled out Relic which starts the whole Pendergast series off and introduces the reader to a very interesting cast of uber-intelligent (for the most part) characters. Finishing that one up, I moved right on to book number two, Reliquary, taking a break here and there to work my way through this month's Vogue and Vanity Fair.

Charlie (14) read Max, James Patterson's fifth novel in the Maximum Ride series, on the way down and was content to play on his I-touch the rest of the trip. Sarah (10) is a huge Rick Riordan fan and, since book five of his Percy & The Olympians series isn't due until May, she made due with a companion piece, The Demigod Files, sort of a guide to the whole series. She also got most of the way through book two of The 39 Clues series, One False Note.

On the first leg home I read the April book selection for the reading group we have here at Duck's Cottage. A Mercy by Toni Morrison is incredible. I loved everything about it --- the story, the setting, the characters and, omg, the voices. Morrison is a master of the written voice, and it is stunningly evident in this slender tome. It's a bestseller in hardback and will probably be even more so when it arrives in paper.

The good news was that the night before we left a young couple from Philly arrived at the guest house where we were staying. One of their first questions was whether, on this tiny Puerto Rican island, we had found a bookstore. Unfortunately, there were only about six stores period on Culebra and none of them catered to the literary traveler. So before we left, we gave them everything we had finished up to that point, including the magazines. Why is this good news? Because even though this wasn't one of those trips where we bought more books on the road, we needed the room for the ten pounds of beach glass, coral and seashells that we were lugging home!

---Jamie Layton