by Ruth Austin
One of the great joys of going on vacation is the act of selecting books to take along. Perhaps it's some kind of a Pavlovian hangover from childhood (we were always encouraged to bring books on family trips) or perhaps it's the prospect of sitting for hours on a beach or a deck and really, properly soaking in the book. Who knows? All I know for sure is that there's no feeling quite like the choosing itself; to a nerd like me it's more exciting than opening my birthday presents.
P and I are going to Hawaii on what will be our very first 'proper holiday' in a long, long time. It's hard to anticipate the mood and pace ahead of time, so I try to make my holiday reading a bundle of assorted styles.
Here, in no particular order, are the books I've gathered together so far:
- Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
- The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
- Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013 edited by Dave Eggers and a bunch of high school students who have much savvier taste than I did at their age.
- Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
You might spot a couple of themes here. While the David/Dave thing is purely coincidental, the Pacific Northwest vibe isn't. Sherman Alexie is a huge deal up here, but much less well-known in the U.K. and his work was recommended to me by someone whose taste I thoroughly trust. The Guterson I remembered from my bookselling days: it was a huge deal at the time and, although I sold many copies, I never quite got around to reading it.
Nonrequired and Debt were gifts from P last year and have been sitting on my 'to-read' pile for just such a trip. I was actually in the middle of reading Debt when my old kindle expired (I actually smashed it on a London Underground train platform in fact, but let's pretend otherwise), and I had to get around to buying a new one before finishing it.
Life After Life was recently the selection of a local book club – one I joined, but haven't yet managed to attend a real meeting of. I wanted to bring along another literary novel, something newish but without the hefty commitment (and physical weight!) of a book like The Luminaries and was intrigued by the sound of this.
I really want some Hawaiian history or stories too, but then I figure the place to find the best books about Hawaii is going to be Hawaii, so maybe I’ll pick up a little something there and read it when I’m back in rainy Seattle . . .