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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What books would you take on vacation?

I went to England to spend time with family, and, of course, I carried some books in my case. I did also take a tablet computer pre-loaded with kindle and kobo reads (plus a few pdfs), but I'm still neurotic about running out of battery power in the middle of nowhere. Real books, though heavy, do have the advantage that they don't need to plugged in on the plane. So... what did I take?

I didn't take I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes because it's too big and heavy, but I did read it during my trip, because my sister-in-law loaned it to me when I arrived. So... not a book for the journey so much as one for the destination. I have to include it though, or I'll mess up my review list. And I loved it--a complex story that weaves multiple histories and characters, intersecting timelines, mysteries, terror and more, all tightly drawn so no thread pulls free, all compellingly told, and all so horrifyingly, hauntingly convincing. Not for the overly squeamish, it's a thoroughly character-driven thriller, best enjoyed with some serious, bold, dark, intense, five-star coffee.

I did take the Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline on the plane. My husband, who knows my tastes so well, bought it for me before I left, and I liked it so much I ended up loaning it to my sister-in-law (above, she who also knows my tastes so well). Sister-in-law and I both loved it, a novel told in nicely convincing voices, bringing together young and old, rich and poor, and showing that history's still relevant today. The history's well-researched and deeply sad, but the story's brings its own well-drawn ending with a pleasing sense of hope. Enjoy with some rich, elegant, complex four-star coffee.

The Orphan Train is literary, therefore by some definitions, literarily heavy (though physically light). But long journeys--17 plus hours including connections--need a good balance of light and heavy reads. So my next book was Currency of the heart by Loree Lough. It tells of a more distant history, and it's more heavily weighted with romance, making it much lighter to read. Set in the late 1800s around the city of Denver, it's a nicely nuanced Christian romance, with pleasing non-judgmental attitudes, moral complexities, and fascinating details. Enjoy with some well-balanced, full-flavored three-star coffee.

Long journeys maybe need some travel books too, though The Martian by Andy Weir goes a little further afield than usual. Still, I love science fiction, so this one had to come with me. It offers a convincing and compelling look at the near future, together with clever science and fascinating detail. Okay, so occasional details aren't quite right, but the overall sense of a modern day Robinson Crusoe is great--best enjoyed with some well-balanced, smooth, full-flavored coffee, and a readiness to read all the real and gritty flavors of survival. I loved it.

Every journey needs a bit of mystery too, so I also took David Freed's The Three-Nine Line, fourth in a much loved mystery series about an aspiring Buddhist with a dubious past. In this novel, the past starts catching up with him, and he's sent from Californian skies to Vietnam waters to find who killed a torturer. Drink some richly elegant and complex four-star coffee while you read.

Then there's Cop Job by Chris Knopf, nth in the Sam Acquillo mystery series, and another great character-driven read. The Hamptons, the bars, the businesses, the offices, the scenery and the water all come to life, while a veteran soldier dies. Issues of mental health, societal responsibilities, and fractured parenthood all weave into the tale, and the result is compelling and powerful. Enjoy this with a rich, elegant, complex four-star coffee as well.

For encouragement and humor while waiting for planes and trains to be called, I took a fine volume of short essays in my flight bag: I used to think I was not that bad and then I got to know myself better by Dorothy Rosby. The essays are short, honest, and honestly good to read. The author's voice is pleasantly self-deprecating. And I'd love to have coffee with her. Enjoy these pieces with some lively, easy-drinking two-star coffee, and you'll want to meet the author too.

And finally, there's a book I'd recently won from a blog and was eager to read, never having read anything by this popular author before. Terri Blackstock's Twisted Innocence is another Christian novel, romantic suspense this time. It contains some singularly American attitudes,  fun to read while traveling to England. But it also has a good message behind the plot. Enjoy with some lively, easy-drinking two-star coffee.

So, what books would you take to read on your trip?

1 comment:

A. F. Stewart said...

I recently read Orphan Train myself. Such a wonderful book.