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Reading Vacation

2013 April 30

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I’ve been in a bit of reading rut myself–I found the last book we read for my book club a little boring and outdated, and it’s been a little while since I read anything that made me excited and happy.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!

5 Responses Post a comment
  1. Raquel permalink
    April 30, 2013

    Usually I am like you: if I feel antsy or annoyed, I often realize that the cause is I haven’t been reading much! But you are right that sometimes it’s good to take a break from BOOKS THAT MAKE YOU THINK AND FEEL. They can be too much when all of the world is MAKING YOU THINK AND FEEL. I usually let my brain rest by either rereading an old, comforting favorite (I love to reread), or I treat myself to a light children’s book. In the midst of the heaviness and frantic pace of the past two weeks, I reread “The Secret Garden” and it provided a sort of mental breathing room I desperately needed–it was true escapism, which I read just for delight and not for edification. But I don’t think I can ever not be reading something, of some kind.

    We’re lucky to live in a world that provides a book for all occasions!

  2. Erica permalink
    April 30, 2013

    My reading vacation usually consists of rereading old favorites–sometimes from my childhood (the “Little House” books, or “Little Women,” for instance–although with the recent passing of E.L. Koenigsberg, I think “From the Mixed-Up Files…” would be a great reread)–and sometimes fiction and nonfiction favorites of all types. Lately, I’ve doing a third type rereading–books I read in high school or college, which for me was a long time ago. My current reread is “Les Miserables,” which I read an abridged, 600-page, version of my freshman year in high school. I remember loving it, even though it was hard going at times. This unabridged version (19th century translation, so the language feels right) begins with almost 100 pages devoted to the story and everyday life of a bishop, whereas the abridged version began right in with the Jean Valjean story. So far, I am loving it, although I am reading it a little at a time, as there is a LOT of detail on French history, culture, etc. So I guess it’s not really a reading vacation…

  3. May 1, 2013

    I felt the same way recently. I just didn’t really love the last few books I had read, and felt a bit rut-ish. Thankfully Game of Thrones has gotten me out of that one.

    For someone that loves to collect books and loves organizing my bookshelf, I’m also not one to re-read! I’ve reread some of my favorites many times, then others I’ve purchased, and don’t re-read, but they sit on my shelf anyway. I know I should either donate them or sell them, but then I’m like “wait, what if I want to read it again one day!?”

  4. Melissa permalink
    May 6, 2013

    I am not usually one to re-read, especially because there are so many new (to me) books out there that are on my to-read list! My book club has discussed re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird, which I am really looking forward to. I read it in high school, but don’t remember it in a lot of detail. I love the idea of revisiting favorites like Little Women, and perhaps another old favorite, Anne of Green Gables. Looking forward to them already.

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