So… we leave for our trip on Wednesday, which means there have been a million things to do before we leave. All good of course. Admittedly, my most difficult task has been narrowing down a list of books to bring on the journey. The task is on-going, I’m afraid, and so I was hoping you could help me out with a few additional recommendations. Have you read any books lately that would make great plane/train reads? I’m very open to destination-themed books as well, so England, France, Netherlands and Portugal are all good settings.
So far, here’s what I’ve got:
Never Let Me Go by Kuzuo Ishiguro — On loan from a friend who shares my love for Ishiguro. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to read this 2005 hit. Like The Remains of the Day, I’m loving the heartbreaking, backward-looking narrative of this book, as well as Ishiguro’s ability to lift the veil on the creepy, dystopian world he’s created only a little at a time. There’s just one problem: I don’t think this one’s going to make it into my bag. I will have finished it by Wednesday! So I need your help. Do you have any recommendations along the lines of “If you liked Never Let Me Go, you’ll love _________”?
The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont — I’ve mentioned before that Dermont is a Creative Writing professor at my alma mater, and so I’ve been delighted to see her climb into author stardom here of late, first with her 2012 novel The Starboard Sea, and most recently with her collection of short stories Damage Control. I’m starting with her novel about a privileged group of friends in a New England prep school in the 1980s. The main character is quietly dealing with the shock of his best friend and sailing partner’s suicide when the story begins, sending me immediately back to Devon preparatory school in A Separate Peace. There’s sailing, there are neglectful and disgustingly rich parents, there’s the promise of a decent protagonist dealing with grief and coming-of-age issues in a most indecent environment. I have high hopes!
There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene — I’m a firm believer in allowing vacation to be a time of intense discernment and inspiration. After all, it’s a gift to have all that time to think and reflect, hopefully on the things that matter most in our lives. And so, I’m excited to finally get around to reading this book by Melissa Fay Greene that a friend loaned me literally years ago. Actually, I’m returning her copy (because, come on, that’s not cool), but I’ve bought the ebook and will be reading it on my iPad (a first for me). The book is about a middle class Ethiopian woman who made it her mission to shelter and care for the AIDs orphans in her country, before quickly becoming overwhelmed by the many children needing her care. It’s been lauded as a powerful book about Ethiopia’s own Mother Theresa.
But three books is not nearly enough. So please, what have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear your recommendations. Thank you!
(Top photo from Thoughts in Transit)