Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Break from the Norm: What We Read on Vacation

I work in publishing, selling books for a living, so much of my time is spent reading books for work.  Vacation is meant to be a break from work, so I try to allocate that time for reading books that I don't sell, as well as competitor titles.  I was happily able to read some wonderful books over my vacation! 

I started prepping for the tropics by reading J. Maarten Troost's, Getting Stoned with Savages.  (I should add that I love to read travel and food writing when I'm taking a break from fiction)  Wickedly funny, I found myself chuckling as J.M.T. catalogues his misadventures in the South Pacific.  If you're looking for a non-fiction read, by an author with a wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humor, you should check this out!  After reading, I brought it along on vacation, as I knew it would be something my husband would enjoy.

I was just getting started with Jennifer Egan's, A Visit from the Goon Squad, as I was leaving for vacation AND when it won the National Book Critics Circle award (great choice on my part!).  This is one of those times when I was GLAD to have left my electronic reader at home.  I quickly became enmeshed in the characters' stories, and took a brief glance around when other air passengers were told to turn off their devices -- those poor souls -- I got to continue reading!  I picked this title up at a client's recommendation, and was so glad that I did.  I got lost in the nostalgia of the 80s and 90s, and loved the sci-fi twist Egan adds to the (immediate) future.  If you haven't already, pick up a copy for yourself - you won't regret it!

My next read was Kristen Cashore's Graceling.  Graceling had been on my 'To Be Read' shelf for almost a year, after I picked it up while shopping at one of my favorite independent bookstores, Browseabout Books, in Rehoboth, Delaware.  I will begin by admitting that it took me about 100 pages to get into this book.  I'm not a huge fan of fantasy, but when it's done well, and has a strong (and believable) heroine, I tend to enjoy it.  Needless to say, after 100 pages I was hooked.  So much so, that I couldn't wait to get stateside to find a bookstore carrying the next book in English! 

Speaking of which, I was OVERJOYED to find that they had a Borders Express in the Phoenix airport (where we had a 5 hour layover)!  While they did not have Cashore's next book in the series, Fire, I was able to check out another, older title, from a competitor (I've been remiss in my reading) -- Scott Westerfeld's Uglies.  I had the opportunity to see Scott at last fall's Baltimore Book Festival and was impressed with his wicked sense of humor.  After reading just a few pages of Uglies I was hooked!

In between finishing Graceling and beginning Uglies, I picked up Kate Taylor's Going Hungry, which is a collection of essays by various writers (including Jennifer Egan) about their experiences with eating disorders.  While I thoroughly enjoyed reading the experiences of others who have battled the disease, it is not exactly 'light' reading (better to pick up, read an essay or two, and put back down).  So, I was in desperate need of some lighter YA fiction when I started Uglies!

What did my husband, Sean, read?  Well, Sean works long hours in the restaurant industry, and is a bit of a foodie (HUGE understatement), so reading is a bit of a luxury for him.  Don't get me wrong, Sean enjoys reading, and he's even co-written a book, but finding the quiet time to relax with a book is difficult.  At any rate, he picked up an advance copy of Gabrielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones, and Butter...and absolutely LOVED it!  In a nutshell, Sean described it as the female perspective and writing equivalent of Anthony Bourdain.  Well, I'm definitely sold on that!  I love Bourdain's writing and sardonic sense of humor -- I even used an excerpt from A Cook's Tour in my Masters thesis!

While my vacation is over, I already have a 'To Be Read' pile started for the next chunk of time that I have off...

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