Sunday, January 4, 2015

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation by Deb Nance




My Christmas vacation was two weeks of dreary, rainy, cold days. Two weeks of dreary, rainy, cold days that were...perfect. Yes, perfect.  I'd have been dismayed if I'd hoped for two weeks at the beach but that is not what I'd hoped for. They were perfect for me. They were perfect for reading.

I planned the weeks carefully. Three weeks before the start of our Christmas break I requested every wish list book I could find from two libraries that (1) have enormous and diverse collections and (2) are a little too far away to visit more than a few times a year. Happily, twenty-one books came in from the two libraries on the first day of break. Perfect.

I also got eight books for Christmas (wowza!) that I added to my reading stacks. And a couple of review books arrived in the mail.

And so how did I spend my Christmas vacation? Yes, I think you see how I spent my days. A nice pot of coffee. A big comfortable reading chair. An enormous warm quilt. And a huge stack of possible reads.

I Read-at-Will. I read and I read and I read. Then I read a little more. And a bit more. 

Some of the books I'd eagerly anticipated did not work for me. I'd read and adored The Roads to Sata: A 2,000 Mile Walk Through Japan last year and I couldn't wait to read Alan Booth's only other travel narrative, Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan, but I never could get into it and sadly set it aside. Making Marks: Discovering the Art of Intuitive Drawing would have made a better magazine article than an entire book. There were several other disappointments that I won't share here, but I will say that's how it goes with books: Not every hoped-for book delivers.

On the other hand, I read three incredible browsable books and three fiction books that I must share with you now. 

First the fiction books. One is Station Eleven, and you've probably already heard enough about that one (you may have even already read it yourself!) I'll just nod my head to Station Eleven and say, Dark and sad and spell-binding and thoughtful. A yes to Station Eleven. The second is The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 1. It's a collection of the shortest short stories you ever did read. The stories are the length and breadth of a whisper, but they echo with such deep truth and clever wordplay that you feel compelled to read them again and again. The other fiction book is The Rosie Effect, and I have to remind you that it's second in the series, so you need to read The Rosie Project first, but that's quite good, too. Our main characters, Rosie and Don, are completely unsuited for each other, and both, in their own ways, are totally unsocial, so their unexpected romance in Project and their complicated marriage in Effect are delightful reads.

Now the browsable nonfiction books.  If you have any interest in the Big Questions about the Universe, you need to find What If today. I have to admit that I didn't understand most of the science, but the questions asked and the author's cartoonish drawings and the gist of the answers that I did understand were good reading. The Lives of the Novelists could have been an awful, textbook-ish thing, but it wasn't; instead, I spent hours and hours reading through all the stories about novelists I thought I knew (and didn't) and novelists I'd never heard of (and should have and now I do and I'm glad). Letters of Note is a vast collection of the most interesting letters you have ever read. Lots of them you probably already know, like Virginia's letter to Santa Claus and the letter of an aspiring poet to Rilke, but there are zillions here that you haven't and you really should.

So there it is. I also read Murakami's new The Strange Library; and a graphic novel from Lucy Knisley, An Age of License; and a baking story, In Search of the Perfect Loaf; a book on creativity by Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds; a memoir by the wonderful writer Mark Salzman about his years spent coping with anxiety called The Man in the Empty Boat; a book about play (since that's my word for the year) called Play; and a memoir about a girl who fought her troubles with alcohol by restoring an early love for birds, The Bird Market of Paris. All quite good reads.






The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! As part of this weekly meme Book Journey loves to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme. 

27 comments:

  1. I am curious about What If? And I've heard many good things about Station Eleven. Enjoy!

    Here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

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    1. You really must check out What If. A fun and provocative read.

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  2. Looks like a wonderful Christmas vacation to me. I'm so glad you found books you really enjoyed in that large stack. And I love that you found a book to go with your word of the year. Happy New Year!

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    1. Yes, though Play wasn't as...well, playful, as I'd have wished.

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  3. Hmmm. So you liked The Rosie Effect? I know of at least two other book bloggers I follow who hated it. But I guess we all have different tastes...thank God! It'd be pretty boring if we all liked the same things, wouldn't it? :)

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    1. Funny. I did. I loved it. And I hate sequels as a general rule, and it was expecting to be bored. Surprise.

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  4. What a wonderful vacation! Books, books, books! I felt overwhelmed when ALL the books I requested from my libraries came (surprisingly) at the same time! At least I had a book tote to hall them all home yesterday! One of those books was Station Eleven and I put that on the top of the stack. I recently read some great reviews and thought, "how did I miss this one?" Glad you enjoyed it too! And I'm making a note on the short short stories book too! Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

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    1. I didn't really hear anything about Station Eleven until I saw it on a lot of Best-of-2014 lists.

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  5. I think blogger ate my comment! :-) Since you're my reading twin, I'm adding Station Eleven to my tbr list. I'm sure I'll enjoy it too. Have a good week.

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  6. Sounds like a pretty wonderful Christmas vacation to me! I'm reading Station Eleven now... a bit outside my comfort zone but so far, so good!

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  7. What a wonderful vacation! I've been hearing good things about Station Eleven. It's not my usual type of read but I think I'll give it a shot.

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  8. You just described my absolutely perfect vacation! It sounds like absolute heaven. I'm reading Relish by Knisley right now and The Bird Market of Paris and The Lives of Novelists sound really interesting! Look forward to your reviews! Have a great week!

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  9. Sounds like a great vacation.

    ENJOY your books!!

    Love the fireworks. I wasn't brave enough to find where to put the info.

    Happy New Year!!

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  10. Your holiday break sounds quite delightful! Station Eleven has just gone on my wishlist, too many good reviews to miss out on that one! and I love how you've described The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories so I might just have to get my hands on a copy of it too. Have a great week and happy reading :)

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  11. Ha I am also reading What If Great minds think alike! I hope I'll see your lovely face around my blog

    Katelynn
    www.literarychameleon.blogspot.com

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  12. Love getting books at Christmas! Sounds like you have some great picks here. Emma

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  13. Station Eleven is pretty much on everyone's list so I really feel the need to check this one out now :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog

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  14. The birds one sound interesting. I've never heard of it.

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  15. Station Eleven is obviously the holiday book of 2014! It is everywhere. Totally understand your feeling of being cozy with a book and a blanket on the couch with a lot of books while the weather is grey. Have a great 2015

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  16. Ha ha! I think everyone read Station Eleven last week, except me! (Still waiting for my copy to come in from the library)

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  17. The perfect way to spend any free time! I'm glad you had such a a great break!

    Wishing you another great week ahead!

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  18. I've been wanting to read Station Eleven and What If! They sound so intriguing and everyone seems to love them.

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  19. Hey keep posting such good and meaningful articles.

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  20. Sounds like you spent Christmas in a great way! Happy New Year.

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  21. That sounds such a perfect holiday for you Deb. The Bird Markets of Paris sounds great- birds and Paris! But it doesn't seem to be released til Feb or March here. I do love how eclectic your reading is.

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  22. That sounds like an amazing way to spend the holiday! Lives of the Novelists sounds really interesting. I'm fascinated by all of that - it's probably left over from my English major days....

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