Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Two weeks of vacation from his work usually means that my Man can be found packing the family van and setting off into the sunset of a beach amidst the boisterous clamor of his family. This year, like another three years earlier, found the Wrights embarking on a "stay-cation".

A "stay-cation" is time away from one's daily existence without time away from one's dwelling place. Tricky. Three years ago our "stay-cation" was necessitated by the impending arrival of Molly into our family. This year our "stay-cation" was a result of a home in need of some major TLC and a football season that would not wait on our family's return from a distant locale.

The first week of our time off together involved jetting around the area shopping a bit here and there, swimming a bit here and there, driving a bit here and there, and eating out every evening here and there! I was Queen of the Passenger's Seat and my subjects were all lovely little travelers (most of the time). As my Man drove hither and yon, I read. As my Man played with children in pools across the land, I read some more. When my Man drifted off to sleep exhausted from all of that driving and swimming, I turned on a night light and continued to read.

The second week of "stay-cation" involved work--housework, and lots of it. As my Man made four thousand trips to Lowe's, operated a power washer, and shoveled in shrubbery beds and build landscaping edges...

I baked a little, 

...did laundry a lot, and read still more.

Were I to imagine this blog post as the annual back to school assignment, my essay would be a simple one.

"This year on my summer vacation I read five books."

Two of the books, I'd had a bit of a head start on while the other three were "begun & done" in two weeks! It usually takes me that long to read the directions on a child's board game, but I used every possible second available to stick my nose into a book or into my Nook.

Here's what I read...
This is the 16th installment of the Goldy Bear culinary mystery series. I have read them all. This one may not be the strongest of the series, but it was a fun read all the same especially with the added feature of recipes in the back of the book! My favorite way to consume these books is by audio. They are narrated by the very most talented voice in the audiobook world, Barbara Rosenblat who brings the book to life. 

(Ms. Rosenblat also narrates another of my favorite series featuring Amelia Peabody a Victorian-era archaeologist in Egypt click here for Amazon link to the first book. The series, by Elizabeth Peters should be read in order if possible.) My local library is loaded with audio books and I take full advantage of their convenience.   I often listen to them while cooking or folding laundry to make the job more fun and I did just that with this one. I'd listen for a bit, then I'd open the book and read for a while when things got quiet. 

(Mother of five kiddos under six!)
Remember this spaghetti face book I talked about a while ago - here? I loved every single page of it. It is as good as a parenting book can get. I can't say enough about this book. The only thing that gave me pause was that the author's picture on the back only served to emphasize how much younger she is than I.
How'd she get so wise so fast? Page after page brought forth blessing and lesson alike. On a few pages I laughed aloud even as my toes were bruising. It really is THAT good. Tell every young (and less young) mommy you know about this book!

I read this quirky book on my Nook on the recommendation of one of my favorite readers Nancy Pearl, who is probably the most famous librarian you don't know about.  She even has her own action figure! No kidding. 

Author of many "books about books" Mrs. Pearl is my go to gal when I'm in need of an interesting read. The Coffins of Little Hope has, as it's storyteller, 83 year-old Essie Myles who is the obituary writer for her family's hometown newspaper. Essie opens the book like this...
I still use a manual typewriter (a 1953 Underwood portable, in a robin’s egg blue) because the soft pip-pip-pip of the typing of keys on a computer keyboard doesn’t quite fit with my sense of what writing sounds like. I need the hard metal clack, and I need those keys to sometimes catch so I can reach in and untangle them, turning my fingertips inky. Without slapping the return or turning the cylinder to release the paper with a sharp whip, without all that minor havoc, I feel I’ve paid no respect to the dead. What good is an obituary if it can be written so peaceably, so undisturbingly, in the dark of night?
To read Nancy Pearl's explanation of this quirky book which touts one of the most original plots I've read lately, click here...

Next up...

Don't you love to "meet" a new author through an excellent book? While reading Bel Canto I experienced that very happiness. Ann Patchett is the author of many books, all very different themes and plots, characters and settings, and all very highly reviewed. None of her books is more highly lauded than this one, winner of the Orange Prize for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction. 

This was another of the books that I simultaneously read on my Nook and listened to via audiobook from the library. I'm not sure which I was more taken with, the listening or the reading. Both were grand experiences with this wonderful, wonderful story. Here's what it's about.
In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.
This story explores the lives of the captors and captives throughout the long period of captivity which would last for over four months. By the end of the novel, I'd fallen in love with many of the captives and more than one of the captors all of whose lives are explored deeply and thoughtfully by the skilled Patchett.

Finally, I read...

    ...well, I can't exactly tell you yet what the fifth book was yet, but the review will be posted soon on a blog site called where I was invited to read and review the title in question.  I'll let you know when my review goes "live." Until then...I think there's plenty of material above to work with!!

"A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end.  You live several lives while reading it."  ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

More vacation adventures & recipes to come...stay tuned! 

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