Friday, September 4, 2015

Vacation Stack

Earlier this August, I prepared to take a vacation with my family.

We are very fortunate. My husband’s family has a beautiful house in the Berkshires. We planned a 10-day trip there.

On the vacation agenda was hiking, an activity the entire family enjoys. We planned to take trips to the beach, have a museum day, a family movie night and meals cooked on the grill. We mapped out a nice balance of activities and relaxation.

In addition, I wanted to spend a substantial amount of time sitting and reading. I wanted to bring a stack of books with me on vacation.

My plans included reading some of many books, rather than packing and finishing two or three books.

About a week before the vacation, I set out to assemble my stack of books.

There were two books from the library that I had already started and was enjoying. I renewed those books. I packed them for my vacation.

One of the books was a gift from a friend who works in publishing. She is a book matchmaker for me. She is excellent at this. In addition, the book she sent me was something that she may have thought I needed to read because of some of my behaviors while her children and mine attended the same elementary school.

I know how to take a hint. I added that book to the reusable shopping bag I had designated for the stack.

I then consulted my Books to Read list. I ordered the rest of my stack from Amazon Prime.

Ordering all of these books was a splurge. Most of the time I reserve books at the library. Some of the books on my list would be so popular that I would need to wait a long time. Vacation time is like a special treat. I wanted my books to feel that way too.

I fashioned my order to be a mix of books I really wanted to read. I included some fiction and nonfiction. Since I was spending money on the books and helping to keep the publishing industry afloat, I was savvy. I ordered one book that the other three members of my family would want to read when I am finished.

Two of the books I ordered would be books I would want to keep and place on the shelf I have designated as my personal reference library.

One of the books had no real rhyme or reason other than an intriguing review I read.  This one book, purchased in hardcover – was an impulse item.

Once we arrived at our vacation locale, I unpacked the stack and arranged it fetchingly on a dresser in the bedroom.

The next morning, I carried the stack to the living room. Over the course of the vacation, the stack resided on the screened porch, the dining room table, the coffee table and the bedroom. One or two of the books would accompany me on vacation jaunts.

I thought about the best way of approaching my stack. An icebreaker was in order.

I began by reading five pages of each of the books. Once I read five pages of each book, I could read more of each book, more of only one book, or a mix.  This is a construct I found extremely appealing. That is why I continued to do that for the duration of the vacation. That is why I adapted this plan once I arrived back home.

I loved reading my five pages, then adding that book to the bottom of the stack. I loved rotating the books. I loved the sculptural quality of the stack. It was like a horn of plenty, only with books.

Near the end of our vacation, some extended family members vacationed with us at the country house. It did not take long for the other vacationers to notice the stack. The stack makes quite a statement. The stack is a conversation opener.

One vacationing family member asked if she could look at the books in the stack. I discovered that I liked nothing better than have a family member who is also a friend leaf through my stacked books.

The stack led to many conversations about the books - whether certain books were as extraordinary as people said they were, what advice given in books was good and which authors had their heads up their asses when it came to certain topics.

It was also nice to discuss which book reviewers had true understanding of a book and which clearly had their heads up their asses.

It was fun to hold forth on which writers were the real deal, which books were difficult to put down and which books could be a little slow going if I had to read more than five pages a day.

I finished two books in the stack while on vacation. The stack is now residing on the coffee table of my apartment. I have added two more books to the stack because I have discovered I like having a large stack. I like reading many books at once.

I am planning to spend a three-day weekend at the country house.  I look forward to assembling the Labor Day weekend stack. Watch this space for future stacks.

 Book titles in photograph, from top:

1) How To Raise An Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims

 2) The Rocks by Peter Nichols

3) Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

4) I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam

5) How To Be A Friend To A Friend Who’s Sick by Letty Cottin Pogrebin

6) Signs Of Life by Natalie Taylor

7) The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

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