Think Twice: Reading for a purpose or for pleasure?
Choosing a book, or many books, to read on vacation can be challenging.
Will I be in the mood for a mindless beach read? Will I want to learn something and explore my personal growth? Should the book be work related? Completely literary? In the end, I almost always choose a bit of everything. In my line of work, reading is as important as the practice of writing.
In April, my family traveled to Nicaragua for two weeks. We had lots of time on planes, in the airport, on the beach, waiting at restaurants, siesta-in and even during the middle of the night, when temperatures hovered near 90 with no air-conditioning. Thank God for e-readers!
Lots of people ask me for reading suggestions, so I’ve listed what I read in Nicaragua. However, I think it’s important to prepare for a trip and read a related book or two before arrival. I began with “The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War by Gioconda Belli,” which was recommended by a professor at Colorado Mountain College. I learned something about the country, its history and the people, plus I got a feel for the environment. While on the plane, I devoured a collection of short stories set in “Panama: Come Together, Fall Apart,” by Cristina Henriquez.
This next selection was chosen because I wanted to read adult literary fiction: I picked “A 100 Foot Journey” by Richard Morais because it’s set in three different countries. Because I was traveling to a foreign land, I could appreciate the nuances that come with cross-cultural living. Next, I read “My Name is Lucy Barton” by Elizabeth Strout, which is new and on many best-seller lists. I love Elizabeth Strout, and the book did not disappoint. I also love Chris Bohjalian’s and was surprised to find “Trans-Sister Radio,” a book of his that I hadn’t yet read. Given the debate about gender-neutral bathrooms, it’s a book that everyone should read RIGHT NOW.
By reading “250 Things you Should Know about Writing” by Chuck Wendig (I did a little work, right?). And because reading middle grade and young adult is also part of my job, I read “I Will Save You” by Matt de la Pena, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” by Heidi Durrow and “This is Where it Ends” by Marieke Nijkamp, but they were all so good that I can’t call it work.
Personal growth and well-being are always part of my routine, and I read parts and pieces of these four books: “Awakening the Energy Body,” by Kenneth Smith; “Defy Gravity,” by Caroline Myss; “Courageous Dreaming” by Alberto Villoldo; and “Dark Nights of the Soul,” by Thomas Moore.
Did I have a favorite? Nope. Each served their purpose for different reasons, and I enjoyed them all. Developing a selection of books to read takes a bit of planning, but it’s well worth it. Happy reading on your next vacation! Summer anyone?
Carrie Brown-Wolf lives in Silverthorne.
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