Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Paging Through The Next Two Weeks


11 AM

Today s to-do list has just two items:

1) finish Sunday column

2) pack for vacation

You d think, with just two measly goals on my agenda, that this day would unfold easily, but it won t, because it s a day filled with decision-making.

Books, baby. It s all about the books.

I already know what basics to pack. This annual vacation of ours is not a stressor: Same thing, every year. Two weeks at the lake. Shorts. T-shirts. Flip-flops. Dinner off the grill. Cold beer. And a stack o books.

That s the hard part.

If I could change anything about my life, it would be the amount of time I give to reading. For reasons I can t really quite explain, the routine of my day-to-day life doesn t seem to allow for the kind of book immersion I crave.

Magazines. That s more my speed during regular life, although even then, every week a partially read New Yorker taunts me from the nightstand. Yes, I have the kind of life where it s a struggle to find enough uninterrupted time to even just read the NY er from cover to cover.

Over the years, I ve figured out that part of the problem is my reading style. I have never understood those people who say they read a chapter or two before bed in order to get sleepy. Huh? That s the last thing reading does to me. I cannot read before bed, because if I do I stay up until all hours, unable to put down the book. Ever since I was a little kid, my reading style has gone unchanged: Give me a book, an entire afternoon, and leave me alone. I have left the building. I have gone away. I am wherever that book puts me, and wherever that is, it s not here. It s too jarring, to read for a few hours and then close the book and resume my life. The upshot of this, unfortunately, is that I don t read unless I can read all day.

And who has a life that allows for that?

Hence, summer vacation. It is my one guaranteed, uninterrupted block of time. My annual lakeside sojourn is the equivalent of a literary crack binge more, more, more! Of course, that makes book selection is all the more critical.

This year s book pile so far:

- The Lay of the Land, Richard Ford

- Throw Like a Girl, Jean Thompson

- This Earth of Mankind, Pramoedya Ananta Toer

- Child of All Nations, Pramoedya Ananta Toer

- Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia, Elizabeth Gilbert

- The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them, The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell

- The Places In Between, Rory Stewart

- The Emperor s Children, Claire Messud

- The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel, Amy Hempel

- Strong Is Your Hold, Galway Kinnell

- Twilight of the Superheroes, Deborah Eisenberg

- Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them, Francine Prose

There will also be, I guarantee, a few "beach reads" thrown into the mix, too. Am now taking any/all other suggestions, as well


NB: Unlike my last vacation, I haven t lined up guest bloggers this time around. I m scheduled to be off for the next two weeks, but I ll more than likely post occasionally, so please do check back now and then.

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