Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vacation Reading

Read on vacation:
Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities -- poor Pater, there were so many passages that I had to read out loud so that he could appreciate the hilariously dry wit along with me.
As a knitter, I couldn't help but pay special attention to Madame DesForges and the cryptic record she works with needles and yarn. As sinister as the knitting in Conrad's Heart of Darkness that leads from Europe to Africa.

Although I generally think I want lighter books for airplane, train, and hotel-room reading, and I know I want books I won't mind discarding along the way, I found Dickens a better-sustained distraction from the discomfort of travel than the mysteries I brought. I was entertained by (an older book in the series) Lee Child's Echo Burning and by Michael Connelly's The Scarecrow (which visited much of the same territory as Jeffrey Deaver has explored -- dangers of on-line identity theft), but after awhile, the corpses and detectives and plot twists become predictable.

Not the case with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. The paperback has already been released in England and I happily grabbed a copy -- a welcome companion on the train from Portugal to Paris. At some points, the complex background that is revealed in this novel weighs it down, and I found it less gripping than the earlier two. However, there are compensatory satisfactions for those of us who wonder about Salander's background, and overall, I happily recommend the whole trilogy. In fact, I was a bit annoyed that Pater brought along The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to read because I knew we'd sacrifice it for luggage space and it's one I will possibly want to read again, or at least lend out. Another testimonial is that he was willing to lug home the hefty Hornets'Nest rather than sacrifice it -- he couldn't/wouldn't read it there because he hadn't yet read Played with Fire.

I'm generally content with our choice of bringing carry-on luggage only, but confronted with London bookstores I do sometimes wish I could have an extra bag just for books. Many books that we're still only able to buy in hardcover are already published in paperback there, and there are many that won't hit North America for some time. Besides the independent bookstores which offer titles I haven't even seen reviews of, even the WH Smiths at the airport have fabulous deals -- 4 for 3 or 1/2 price -- that have me twitching, debating whether or not to buy a suitcase to cram full!

Instead, I settled for being able to navigate my own bag onto the plane and to manage the walk home from the SkyTrain Station -- one paperback only, a Nicci French I haven't yet seen here, one I know my daughter Rhiannon will be happy to borrow as she's also a fan of this husband-wife writing team. Complicit serendipitously takes place in exactly the area Pater and I walked last week -- Camden Town, King's Cross, St. Martin's Canal -- and it does that psychological thriller thing that the Brits do so well.

And today, with all sorts of more worthwhile material on my bookshelves, I picked up yet another mystery at the drugstore. What can I say? It's beach weather and the mysteries seem to suit the hammock. So my latest read is Jonathan Kellerman's Evidence, but I'm juggling it with Anna Gavalda's Je l'aimais which I picked up at the train station in Paris. And I'm making up an order for Chapters as well as checking my shelves to find something I can dig into.

What about you?

1 comment:

  1. I find that bookstores are the most difficult when traveling. I want everything and can carry none of it. I truly enjoyed Hornet's Nest even though it was less gripping than the previous ones, and it seemed in some ways unfinished, as if it was wrapped up without really being fleshed out. But I loved the unraveling of Salandar's history and that more than made up for the weaknesses for me.

    Summer seems to cry for light reading and I'm finding myself gravitating away from the more though-provoking tomes.