Sunday, August 24, 2008

What I Read On My Summer Vacation

I spent 13 nights away on vacation-- the longest I've vacationed for in many years. It was wonderful; I returned relaxed, at peace, feeling like a new person. I live for vacation.

So vacation was just short of 2 weeks because the teenagers wanted to attend the first day of VirginMobileFest and we all went (separately, of course, they wouldn't be caught dead with me) to hear a variety of bands play-- the Outkasts, Jack Johnson, Foo Fighters. I thought I'd be bored, but it was a gorgeous day here in B-More and I had a great time. Sort of reminded me of being young again, sans kids, with my main squeeze as an all-day date.

We went to Mission Beach in San Diego-- a great mix of a city vacation and a beach vacation all rolled into one. The zoo, the Padres, we sailed, biked to La Jolla, kayaked, sun bathed, restaurants and funky parts of town. Our deck looked out on Mission Bay and I loved the mornings, coffee cup in hand, to sit and read.

There's this thing I have about vacation: I love to read. I concentrate better than I ever do at home, and pretty much anything compels me. I used to think it was because I have more time, but it's not just time. At home, I read in sound bites: blog posts, journal articles, on-line newspapers, The NY Times magazine. I limp through books, even novels, a few pages at a time. On vacation, I ingest them. And when I'm done, I read other peoples' books.

So here's what I read on vacation:

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama, 1996
A fascinating account of our presidential hopeful's youth. He portrays himself as a caring, idealistic young man, full of hope, energy and dreams. He deals with some very painful childhood issues in a somewhat distant way--- I guess the psychiatric term that comes to my mind is 'well-defended.' Quite a life.

Run East: FLIGHT FROM THE HOLOCAUST By Jack Pomerantz, Lyric Wallwork Winik

This was actually a re-read of a book I'd read years ago: a man's story of leaving and losing his family when he leaves Poland to escape the Nazi invasion. He spends years as a refuge in Russia, in a story that moves from tender and often hopeful, to often simply horrifying.

Asking for Murder
by Roberta Isleib. Dr. Isleib is a psychologist/novelist and she writes about a psychologist/advice columnist who's best friend, a social worker who specializes in "sand play" therapy, is beaten into a coma. A beach read (and that's where I read it). ClinkShrink wants to do the official review, but the book was sent to my office-- a perk of being a Shrink Rapper.

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. Football player messes up his career and ends up playing in Italy where he finds himself. Reminded me of Eat, Pray, Love. Another beach read. I like his legal thrillers a lot better. Lots of football here. Borrowed from teen son.

Tally's Corner, A Study of Negro Streetcorner Men by Elliot Liebow, 1967. Actually, the research for this book was done in 1962 and it's the author's doctoral dissertation. He spends his time hanging with those who live on the margins of survival and writes about their poverty, their struggles, their families, their relationships, and their place in society. Okay, so it now takes more than 70 cents a day to feed a person, and if you ignore the impact that computers and video games may have made, the stories told somehow feel they could be happening today. That we haven't come further is a tragedy.

by Sarah Dessen, 2000. Caitlin has the perfect life, until her big sister runs away two weeks shy of starting her freshman year at Yale. Caitlin makes the cheer leading squad and soon finds herself in love with a boy who beats her mercilessly. She loses her self, the truth of it all gets found out, a few months in a psychiatric facility and voila, Caitlin's good as new. Borrowed from teen daughter.

Home again, home again. Let the chaos resume.


Anonymous said...

Good to hear that the vacation was restful, relaxing and well-read (I might add a couple of those books to my "to read" list). Here in the land of Oz in the southern hemisphere, it is not so much about a summer vacation as it is about winter hibernation. Rather than catching up on reading, it is a time to snuggle under the doona on the couch and catch up on dvds. I have recently discovered “The Wire”, a tv drama series set in Baltimore which I have found compelling and up there with Sopranos (apparently it is also Obama’s favourite tv show). I am wondering whether any of the Shrink Rappers have seen it and what they think about the portrayal of Baltimore in the series.

Dragonfly said...

Im on the wait list for Obama's book through the public library.....I have a feeling that the wait may be a while though...

Rach said...

You shlepped all those books with you? Good for you!
I would have just shlepped chocolate, read the label, sighed, eaten the chocolate and sighed again.

You're a much better person than I am, Dinah. Glad the vacation was fantab.

Anonymous said...

I do the same thing on vacation! I read a LOT! I think part of it is that I need something mentally stimulating after hiking, beach walking, dining, shopping, sight-seeing plus there is the absence of the ever-present thousand chores. Lack of the internet on vacation counts for something, too. Would I read more books at home if I gave up the internet for a month? Probably.

Anonymous said...

I've checked 42 times since Sunday, still no new blog. Please write faster.

NeoNurseChic said...

I also read a lot on vacation! Last summer was when I started reading the Harry Potter series, and those books have actually changed my life. I've now read a couple of the books several times through, and I've seen all the movies probably hundreds of times. Harry Potter has become what I turn to when I need to just transport myself into another world.

Earlier this summer, I read through the entire "Women's Murder Club" series by James Patterson. I read his books very quickly, and I enjoy them quite a lot!

I am currently reading P.D. James' "The Children of Men". The movie by the same name was based on this book, but the movie is VERY different than the book! I enjoyed the movie quite a lot, so I thought I'd check the book out - too. (I'm one of the few people I know who can watch a movie and THEN read the book....) This book reminds me of the days of reading more prolific literature than what I generally spend time reading for pleasure anymore. I'm actually enjoying it quite a lot!

My mom is in a book club, and I have thought several times about joining one, but for one, I am a slow reader (unless it is James Patterson or the Harry Potter books!), and she always seems like she has a hard time finishing the books by the meetings. And also, I wouldn't like losing the freedom of reading what I want to read. (Ie. if I want to read Harry Potter 4 more times in a row, then I want the freedom to do that! haha) But, OTOH, book clubs do usually provide some great books!

Glad you had such a nice time on vacation! Our vacation to San Diego was for the purpose of a soccer tourney, but we had a great family vacation out there, too! :)

Take care,
Carrie :)

Catherine said...

I like Dessen. I ordered some of her books for my classroom this year.

Dinah said...

Anonymous, I wrote for you.

Carrie: Yeah, I have the same problem with book clubs. Got my own agenda and I don't want anyone else telling me what to read. A zillion years of school and so happy to not be there anymore.

Dragonfly: Worth the wait.
Mindful: Love the Sopranos and there are many old Shrink Rap posts on it. I tried The Wire, couldn't get beyond all the swearing in the first episode-- felt like I couldn't understand what they were saying between curse words to make sense of the sentences. I've currently returned to 24 after a hiatus.

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