Despite the above picture (taken while in Bermuda), this post is not about reading on vacation. No, I’d like to talk about a vacation FROM reading–a reading vacation, if you will.
I think this concept is different for everyone. For some, it’s a break from the reading you do for school or work–obligated reading–to read something purely for pleasure. For others, it’s a total break from reading–a gap, a rest stop between books.
Since I’m no longer in school and do any reading for my job during my time in the office, I don’t really have a need for the first type of reading vacation. I can read whatever I want, whenever I want, for the most part, which I realize makes me very lucky. As for a total break in reading…are you kidding me? I don’t think I’ve ever gone longer than a few days between books, since I was about 8 years old. I always have to be reading something, or I feel lost. Maybe that’s weird, but it’s true. I am always reading.
Which leads me to a third variant of the reading vacation–a break from yourself. I know there are others like me out there–we’re constantly reading, always adding to our “to-read” list, participating in some kind of race against ourselves to see how many books we can read, how many different types of books we can read, how many authors/novels/stories/essays we can cram into our literary database brains. Most of the time, we love it–it’s invigorating and fun, always reading something new and different! But then there are other times–we may be in a reading rut, or having a rough time in our personal lives or professional lives, and the prospect of reading some heavy book full of literary themes or abstract imagery is just…exhausting.
I’ve been in a bit of reading rut myself–I found the last book we read for my book club a little boring and outdated, and it’s been a little while since I read anything that made me excited and happy. I just finished re-reading Catch-22, which while just as fabulous as I remembered, is a dark and heavy and long read, and it took me a few weeks, with some breaks, to finally finish. That got my momentum down quite a bit. To get myself back on track, I’ve decided to give myself a reading vacation.
What does my version of a reading vacation entail? Well, this time around, it means I’m reading a friend’s not-yet-published novel, catching up on a couple of issues of The New Yorker, and re-reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which I bought for myself a few years ago (on vacation!) and haven’t gotten around to reading yet because I was too “busy” reading everything else on my fanatical to-read list. I like to read it as my unwinding-before-bed read, which I don’t normally consider a separate category, but for the purposes of the reading vacation, it seems appropriate. And next week I’m planning on treating myself to a re-read of The Great Gatsby in anticipation of the movie, and also because it’s been a few years and it’s one of my all-time favorites.
Tangentially, this reading vacation is related to the concept of re-reading, which I don’t normally allow myself to do. But I’m slowly discovering the pleasures of it (on which I plan to elaborate in a future post) and I may need to carve out more time to do it in the future.
Do you ever taking reading vacations? What do they entail for you? I’d like to hear about it!