Sand, beach towels and books; that is what my family vacations usually consist of. I come from a long line of readers and book swapping while on vacation has become something of a tradition. We each have our own, distinct style; my grandfather loves crime novels while my cousin Kelly is all about connecting with characters. Me? I’ll read just about anything. Not only is my family extremely bookish, but while on vacation, we’re also extremely lazy. We’re talking sit on the beach from 10 am to 5 pm lazy. Luckily, lazy beach days make for a lot of reading time.
I can remember stopping at Barnes & Noble to pick up the last Harry Potter book (July 21st 2007, the very day it was released, if I recall correctly) before heading down the shore for the annual family vacation, reading the entire car ride. I remember sitting on the beach and crying after I finished it (just because the series was over) and my family members laughing at me, but then fighting over who got to read the book next, later that night.
I can also remember when everyone brought their copy of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO on vacation; literally there were six paperbacks of the same book in various locations all over the house. Of course, everyone was confusing them and then refused to talk to each other for fear of spoilers!
On this vacation, like the others, there was no shortage of books. In fact, there were so many books that after finishing them, we had to leave books at the shore house in order to fit everything else in our cars! A few books that were getting passed around were Cheryl Strayed’s WILD, TEARS OF THE DESERT: A MEMORIAL OF SURVIVAL IN DARFUR by Halima Bashir, A TEASPOON OF EARTH AND SEA by Dina Nayeri and my favorite, VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan.
Unfortunately, the copy of WILD was only in commission for a few days before it was left in the rain. After finding it, my grandmother then proceeded to microwave it at thirty second intervals for an hour... She finally finished it by reading a page, and then ripping it out of the book (making it a little difficult for anyone else to read). Apparently, the main character and author, Cheryl Strayed also did this with her books while she hiked the Appalachian Trail, so my grandmother felt she had gotten a really authentic experience out of the situation.
My mother read TEARS OF THE DESERT and prompted a long conversation between me and my cousin, Kelly, who have both spent time in East Africa. (She lived in Uganda for six months, and I’ve visited Uganda before and in June spent time in Rwanda and Tanzania.) This autobiography of a female, Sudanese doctor who became trapped in the encroaching Darfur conflict, brought us to A TEASPOON OF EARTH AND SEA, another story of a woman trapped, this time in post-revolutionary Iran, as she fights against the constrictions in her new world.
Lastly, VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD made the rounds of my family's beach house. I made my skeptical grandmother purchase a copy, only because I had read half of it, really loved it, and never finished it (my mom also read it for book club and then forgot to go to the actual book club meeting). I knew this book would somehow end up down the shore, and I had every intention of stealing it...which I did...shh!