Vacations

August 17, 2015

Tags: President Obama, summer reading lists

It’s time for a vacation. Everyone is on vacation, even the President. He has a Spotify play list as well as a summer reading list that includes:"All That Is"by James Salter,"All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr,"The Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert, “The Lowland" by Jhumpa Lahiri and "Washington: A Life" by Ronald Chernow.

An impressive fiction/non-fiction list. I’ve read the Chernow (I love colonial history), tried the Doerr (a no-go, for now anyway), am eager to read the Salter and Lahiri, and read some of the Kolbert in The New Yorker.

This list is not exactly “beach reading,” as one commentator said. Meaning what? Genre fiction? How-to nonfiction? No. Even on vacation the President seems to prefer enrichment rather than escape.

I can relate.

I have written here about reading genre fiction—Lee Child, in particular—which I admire and even have tried to write (my murder mystery/thriller, “Say Nothing”) but I can’t read a lot of it. I get bored. I hope “Say Nothing” is not boring. I wasn’t bored writing it; it was a challenge. I have been told that it is written well. Thank you.

I encourage my students to stretech themselves and this means reading beyond what they normally read, or reading for work, or reading for escape. All electronic devices off, except the e-reader of course. And try to slow down. That takes effort and concentration.

I’m going on vacation, too, a working vacation. I’ll be writing, reading and looking after my daughter and son-in-law’s homestead while they are away. There will be morning chores—collect eggs, let the chickens and ducks out of the coop, feed the rabbits, the dog and the cats—and long, slow days. My husband will be working on a new screenplay and I am returning to a memoir I began some years ago. And reading. I’m pleased to have discovered Overdrive and now get most e-books out of the library. Here’s my current list: “Romantic Outlaws; The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley” by Charlotte Gordon, “Tropical Fish; Tales from Entebbe,” by Doreen Baingana (a Ugandan writer), “The Bullfighter Checks her Make-up,” by Susan Orlean (a collection of her narrative nonfiction), and last but not least, “The Cloudspotter’s Guide; The Science, History and Culture of Clouds.” I have been studying clouds and want to try a painting for a collage on my front door.

All of this in two weeks. But there’s no hurry. I'm on vacation.

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