Saturday, May 31, 2008

What I Read on My Summer Vacation (and Why I Could Read so Much)

This will sound like a lot of reading (it's well over 1900 pages), but here's a standard daily schedule for me from our vacation:

6:30--Wake up (it gets light before 6:00am, and the cottages are naturally cooled by the cross breeze, so our screen doors all around the bedroom were opened). Prayer and Bible study (I am not usually consistent about this on vacation, but I am so glad that I invited God along on this couples' getaway as well). Drink coffee that is left on a table outside our cottage in a carafe.

7:15--Read a book either out on the lounge chair by the beach, or the one on our deck. A gorgeous, quiet time.

8:00--Terry wakes up. Breakfast is delivered to eat on the covered patio on our deck. We eat fresh fruit--mango, pineapple, watermelon etc--to our heart's content. I developed a love of passion fruit juice. We also ate baked goods, eggs, bacon, and the last two days, I had to try an item on the menu that I had wondered about, "Fish stew." It was delicious--spicy tomato broth, tomatoes, onions and peppers and chunks of fish. I asked one of the waiters at lunch if it was something people around there would eat for breakfast, and he said, "Yes, it's a West Indies favorite. The hot is good for you, like coffee or tea, and it's a hearty breakfast to tide you over to lunch."

9:00--Put on swim suits and lay by the beach or on the deck--reading.

10:30--Swim and snorkel a bit, off the beach right by our hotel. There's coral everywhere, so the fish are abundant, even just 20 feet off the beach. Lay in the sun to dry off--with a book.

12:30--Buffet lunch at the restaurant. They always had several delicious salads made up of grilled or roasted vegetables, more fresh fruit, a cold soup (which I didn't get into), and a couple hot dishes as well. Read a bit by the beach or in the hammock while our lunch settles.

2:30--Swim and snorkel.

3:15--Read in the hammock.

4:30--Afternoon tea is delivered to our cottage--hot tea and a few sweets. Terry and I played Cinq-o each day while we had tea. I think before our trip, I had never beaten him (perhaps once?), and the first couple of games proved no different, but by the end of the trip, our record was even.

5:30--Get ready for dinner, relax, read.

7:30--Dinner in the restaurant. We ate fish, shellfish, pork, beef, pasta. It was all delicious.

9:00--Return to the room, read a bit before going to sleep (there are no TVs and it's dark by 7:00, so that always brings on an early sleep for me).
So what did I read during all of this time (including two long flights as well)?

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs--I loved this book. I still think that I enjoyed his first book, The Know-It-All, more, but this chronicle of Jacobs' year during which he tried to follow all the laws of the Bible is funny and also thought-provoking. He's not a believer, but he doesn't mock faith. He seems to genuinely want to understand it, and does a great job of explaining the role of the law within a life a faith. I highly recommend both of these books.

The Host--Wow. I have written a more articulate review and will be giving away three copies on Monday in my 5 Minutes for Books column at 5 Minutes for Mom. Don't miss it.

Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner--I'm posting a review for this separately, later today or tomorrow (review).

Honeymoon with my Brother was a random "marked down to $4 at Barnes and Noble" kind of purchase. However, since I love memoir, and love travel memoir best, it was a no-brainer for me. In this book, Franz Wisner decides to take his planned honeymoon with his brother, after his bride calls off the wedding. That leads to a year of world travel and restoring a lapsed relationship with other.

I started and read about half of Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. I'm thrilled with it so far. It's practical, and inspiring and if you apply the principles that he teaches, it will take your relationship with your spouse and with God even deeper.

I read one short story in Elizabeth Gilbert's collection, Pilgrims , and tried to read two more, but they didn't grip me at all, so I left it in the resort's library.

I brought all of those books with me, but then enjoyed exploring the resort's lending library to see what I might find.

The first one I selected was One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson. I was drawn in my the high praise (on the book jacket--what else are they going to print there?), promising suspense, and human drama--a literary novel full of twists and turns. Honestly, it was fine, but it was neither the most literary novel that I've ever read, nor the most suspenseful. In its favor, she does draw a character quite well, and a couple of them still sit with me. Apparently Jackson Brodie, who appeared in this novel, is a recurring character, so I might try another of her novels.

I started The Thirteenth Tale on my long trip home. I'm about halfway through it now, and enjoying it quite a bit.

Five of these (including Pilgrims, which I won't finish) are on my Spring Reading Thing list, so that makes me happy. I know that there are some others on the list that I won't finish, but I've also read several off the list as well. I was glad I peeked over at it, though, because it reminded me of several that I do want to read before the end of June.

This review is linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.

7 comments:

Dianne said...

This is my major dilemna right now - what to take to read on vacation. Other than that, I am totally packed (leaving Friday). I hate to take too much but the thought of running out of reading material - well, we just won't go there! I ahve been wanting to read the Year of Living Biblically for a while now, it won't make the vacation pile but I'll have to get my hands on it. Am reading Sacred Marriage as well and your positive review encourages me to press on with it.

Laura said...

Sacred Marriage is the only book on marriage I'll read. I love that book and it changed me completely (spiritually speaking) in how I view love and marriage. Sounds like you had a great time! I'm glad you got some good R&R.

(This is Laura from the now defunct Here and Now) :)

Carrie K. said...

What a list! I enjoyed The Year of Living Biblically, and The Thirteenth Tale is excellent - one of my all-time favorites. My copy of The Host arrived yesterday - can't wait.

Sacred Marriage was assigned to us to read during marriage counseling. It's been a long time since I re-read it, it's probably time.

Katrina said...

Ah...what a wonderful schedule that was! Sounds perfect...well, for me anyway. Chad would probably go stir crazy.

I also loved reading your list of books read and your thoughts on them. I do have A.J. Jacobs on my list of authors to check out. And I just glanced at The Host on Amazon. Hm...I'll be looking forward to reading your thoughts tomorrow.

L.L. Barkat said...

LOVED The Year of Living Biblically. My current favorite is Keeping House. Have you read it?

dad said...

Probably surpassed your 1900 pages while traveling and sitting Amanda and Kyle. Six books and well over 2,000 pages. Enjoyed both the books and the Grandkids.
LOVE

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