Aug 2, 2010

Vacation Reading

3 adults, 17 nights away from home, 9 different lodgings: a whirlwind trip by our standards. We minimized what would have been a hectic pace by spending lots of time relaxing (read: eating and drinking). Our trip was to France, but flying IcelandAir gave us the welcome opportunity to stop in Iceland for a few days on the way home.

What was my reading material while traveling? I finished Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame while in France, and read two of Flaubert's Three Tales as well.

Hunchback is such a powerful book that I find the characters  living in my head--including one of the main "characters", the cathedral itself. Touring and performing in the cathedral, and climbing  the towers to see the bells close up were greatly enhanced by reading this book. I  found Hugo's discourses about architecture and the advent of printing fascinating since I am a librarian, and am presently--and seemingly for eternity--a home renovator. My enjoyment of the book was also heightened by both reading it in print and listening to an audio version. I find that reading a book and listening to it are very different experiences.

South Tower above Emmanuel, the current big bell--it would have been Big Marie in Quasimodo's time.

Flaubert's first story, A Simple Heart, takes place in the countryside around Deauville, an area of France that we visited. We also stayed in Rouen, where Flaubert spent much of his life. Our choir performed at the cathedral there, which has a lovely stained glass window we saw that inspired his second story, The Legend of St. Julian Hospitator. I'm looking forward to reading more Flaubert.

Since you asked, John was busy reading The Three Musketeers, and Antonia read A.J. Jacobs' The Know It All, and began Hunchback. (Regarding The Know It All--all you have to do is read the introduction to get hooked. Just ask me--I read it in the ER waiting room on Saturday).

My first few days back from vacation, when I had so much work I should be doing, I made the mistake of picking up vol. 3 of Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter (published 1920-22). I couldn't work or sleep until I finished it. Historical novels often excel at portraying a time period--this book, by a well-deserving Nobel prize winning author, succeeds at history, character development, dialog, and plot. Heartily recommended to anyone who wants to be consumed by literature!

The school year will be starting soon, so I am reading two of our student book club selections: The Camel Club, by Richmond/Henrico County native Baldacci, and Hearn's Across the Nightingale Floor, which I expect to like much better.

What are my readers reading this summer?


Professor Batty said...

The last book I finished was The Bloodstone Papers by Glen Duncan. Highest recommendation. I'm trying to get into The Terror by Dan Simmons. Monster complicating the search for the NW passage. Brrr...

John said...


Shannon said...

Hi Rose! Will there be more photos from your trip? Remember us poor arm-chair travelers, please! We moved house this summer so I haven't had a lot of spare reading time. I did manage to read "Those Who Save Us" by Jenna Blum. A bit sad but still an excellent read, I couldn't put it down. Currently I'm still trying to finish up InkDeath by Funke. It has taken me many many months of stopping and starting but I'm determined to see it through. After that, who knows! So happy you had a wonderful trip!

Rose said...

All of you are up to some interesting reading! Too bad my Mt. TBR is too high to add these--they all sound good. Shannon, I have been following you a bit on Facebook--a belated welcome to your new home! I hope you are settling in well. Pictures of the trip are in the Photographs tab of
John's blog--the first entry and the last three entries pertain to Iceland ;-) Meanwhile I will slowly add some different posts here.