After three books in the Tales of the City series, I need to take a break. But about forty pages into The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks, I regretted it, because the book is so . . . good! I have this eccentric, save-the-best-for-last attitude for books. The story concerns the cultural aftershocks which tear apart a small British Columbia town in the wake of a schoolbus accident which leaves a number of local children dead. Voices of those affected ache with a reality that is fluid and authentic. The arrival of a big-city lawyer who contrives to unite the survivors to initiate a lawsuit renders a powerful morality play. This is the kind of book I prefer to pore over by the pool when I take a weekend getaway. When you are on vacation, often you want to relax, escape and unwind. But I avoid bestsellers. Over the years the experience with vacation read has been a mixed bag of reading for message, hammering drama, thriller, and plain comedy. Many have been good books, thanks to some obsessively tight scrutiny of books. Others entertaining at the moment, although a month later I wouldn’t be able to tell you the first thing about them. The perfect ones for vacation, where I devote long, uninterrupted block of time to reading, are books that I slow down at the end rather than speed up, when I savor every word, reading some of them over twice or more just to keep the book from coming to it’s end. Usually I can identify such a book after a chapter or two—then I toss it aside for later.
What about you? Do you screen for vacation reads? Are you obsessive compulsive about your vacation reads?