Monthly Archives: June 2013

Honeymoon reading

Which of the thirteen (13) books I brought along with me did I wind up reading, you’re wondering? In chronological order:

guernseyThe Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society: I actually forgot to mention this one originally, but I was near the end of the audiobook when we left, and I finished it on the first plane flight. This epistolary novel is a delight in print and on audio.

Next was Rose Under Firethe new novel from Elizabeth Wein (author of Code Name Verity), which will be published this fall. I enjoyed it, but Code Name Verity is still my favorite of the two. Either one should satisfy teens looking for WWII historical fiction.

sweetlifeBy that time we were in Iceland with France as the next stop, so I read The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz and – once we’d arrived in Antibes, and on the train from Antibes to Paris  – Bloom’s Literary Guide to Paris by Mike Gerrard. Both of these had useful tidbits of information, such as the fact that Paris zip codes contain their arrondissement number (e.g. an address in the twelfth arrondissement would be 75012), and that you should greet store clerks, salespeople, and basically anyone else with bonjour or bonsoir without fail unless you want to appear colossally rude.

bloomsparisWhile we were in Paris I read Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman (author of one of my all-time favorite books, All My Friends Are Superheroes). Born Weird is about a family of five siblings whose grandmother gives them each a different blessing – or maybe a curse? – at birth. In order to have these “blursings” taken back, they must all gather together at her deathbed. It is quirky and whimsical in the best possible sense of those words.

 

turnaroundbrighteyesIt’s also a quick read. The next book I tackled was Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I found it thoroughly absorbing, though I must say that woman does not write about happy families. (I highly recommend her new novel, Life After Life.) Finally, on our last plane flight, I started Rob Sheffield’s Turn Around Bright Eyes, which, like his previous two books, is about love, karaoke, music, memory, and life in New York and in general. If you liked his previous two novels, you’ll like this as well; it comes out August 6.

shininggirlsTechnically, I did not read The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes while on vacation; I read it the Monday after, when I stayed home sick with a horrible sore throat/cough/cold/fever bug that I’m still trying to kick. The Shining Girls is a good read-it-all-in-one-sitting book anyway, though; it’s a fast-paced, well-written story about a time traveling serial killer and the one girl who survives – and starts hunting him. I really enjoyed it (how do you find a criminal who can time-travel, after all? Who thinks to suspect that?), though don’t expect the time-travel element to be explained.

That’s it! I’d say summer reading started off pretty well – not a dud in the bunch.

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“International bestseller” claims check out

Turns out the publicists of J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and John Green weren’t kidding – these books are international bestsellers.

A copy of The Casual Vacancy in Icelandic at the Reykjavik City Library:

casualvacancy

 

Also from the Reykjavik City Library, a copy of Mockingay (presumably. Could also be The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, but it was with the other “recent bestsellers” (again, presumably), so my best guess is Mockingjay):

mockingjay

 

Finally, from a bookstore in Paris, The Fault in Our Stars. Or in French, Our Contrary Stars, which doesn’t have quite the same ring, but I’m sure Hazel and Augustus are just as heartbreakingly wonderful in French as they are in English. (Side note: in French, bookstore is librarie, and library is bibliotheque.) The cover design remained the same, though:

TFIOS

 

 

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Literary journeys for literal journeys

As all devoted readers know, the most important part of packing for a trip is figuring out what books to bring along. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it’s agonizing. For most trips, I rule out hardcovers just based on weight; that leaves paperbacks, and now e-books as well.

Here’s the shortlist. Not that I’ll read all of these in a week, but I have a terror of running out.

atkinsonPaperbacks:

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

Bloom’s Literary Guide to Paris by Mike Gerrard

Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman

The Carriage House by Louisa Hall

The Princess Bride by William Goldman*

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

E-books:

wein_roseHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling*

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Paris Was the Place by Susan Conley

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Turn Around Bright Eyes by Rob Sheffield

*These two are more for my travel companion, but I’m not above stealing them to re-read them if I run out of other books. Which seems unlikely, as I will have more books than days on the trip. But still.

Where to begin? I think I’m most excited about Rose Under Fire, as it’s a companion to Code Name Verity, which I read recently and flat-out adored. Bloom’s Literary Guide to Paris, The Sweet Life in Paris, and Paris Was the Place are all particularly relevant given our destination. Born Weird was a gift from a close friend who knows exactly how much I love All My Friends Are Superheroes (by the same author), and who told me it’s a quick read, so that moves it up in the queue as well. And, I just finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and am ready to be enthralled by her again.

Should I burn through all of those, I’ll still have appealing choices left: The Carriage House came highly recommended to me from a friend in the publishing industry whose reading taste I trust wholeheartedly. Turn Around Bright Eyes comes on the heels of Love Is A Mix Tape and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, a blend of music and memoir that remind me of another Rob – the character in Nick Horby’s High FidelityThe Shining Girls has gotten some good buzz, and the premise of a time-traveling serial killer is certainly intriguing. White Tiger has been on my to-read list for some time, and I can always re-read The Princess Bride or Harry Potter. Finally, there’s Mansfield Park, although in a way it’s comforting to know that there’s still one Austen book I haven’t read.

The real difficulty of the trip may be putting down the books and doing something else.

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