Reading Journal (2 Sep): Vacation Prep

I was going to finish rereading Beloved last night, but instead I fell asleep. Beloved is a powerful, heart-breaking book about the effects of slavery, and while it is brutal, I love rereading it.  At this point, because I read it so many times as a late teen and college student, I feel like I know it. I haven’t reread it for probably five years, and yet, it’s still so familiar.

I finished Gulliver’s Travels and my Mormon architecture book this week, but I won’t get them reviewed until I return from my vacation to Utah. In fact, I’m going to be pretty off-line for the next few days. I’ll have my computer and I’ll respond to comments, but I won’t be Twittering (amazing how quickly that became a habit) and I won’t be checking Reader.

When I go out of town tomorrow, I doubt I’ll get much time for reading. Despite the fact that it is a vacation, it’s a “family vacation.” I don’t often get time to read during the weekends (because it’s “family time”), and this is an extended weekend. To be honest, I’m really looking forward to a non-internet, non-bookish weekend! I really feel I need a break.

Do you read while on family vacations?

I’ll probably post next Wednesday that I haven’t finished anything (other than Beloved, which has 50 pages to go and that I’ll finish tonight). I may surprise myself, though.

That said, I am taking two books with me on my trip. The first is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I’m having an IRL book club meeting at my home next Thursday, so I’ll really have to push to finish it if I don’t get any read this weekend. (I, uh, kind of forgot that I needed to read it.) I’m also taking Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, which is the IRL book club selection for the library book club I’m hosting starting in October. I think I’ll read this book at a similar rate to how I read Gulliver’s Travels: a little bit each week.

Finished Reading

See my notes by each book below.

  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathon Swift (355 pages; fiction). FINISHED! For My History of Children’s Literature Project.
  • The Soul of Wit: A Study of John Donne by Murray Roston (220 pages; nonfiction/critical analysis). Returned unread. I am done with Donne (for now).
  • Bloom’s Major Poets: John Donne (about 20 pages skimmed of 110 pages; nonfiction/critical analysis). Returned mostly unread. I got bored of the criticism. Maybe someday I’ll learn all the details about Donne’s style, but not now.
  • Bloom’s How to Write about Toni Morrison (200 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). Returned unread. I was going to skim the section on Beloved, but I’ve already got plenty to say!
  • Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture and City Planning by Mark Hamilton (140 pages, plus 50 pages of notes; nonfiction).  FINISHED! Architecture info is fascinating to me, and I’m going to Utah this weekend so I may see some of it.
  • The Pooh Sketchbook, drawings by Ernest H. Shepard for the Pooh stories (95 pages, illustration only; nonfiction). FINISHED! Also new library loot. I “read” this because I love Winnie-the-Pooh. This has the early sketches Shepard made for the book. There is very little text, but I loved looking at the illustrations.

My Books

I’m excited to finish Beloved this week, as well as read some lighter fare.

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison (225 read of 275 pages; fiction). For the Beowulf on the Beach Challenge, the Summer Lovin’ Challenge, and The RIP IV Challenge. Almost finished!
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker ( audiobook, on 9 of 27 segments, about 16 hours total; fiction). For the RIP IV Challenge. The first five chapters were great. Then it started to drag a little. The librivox is touch-and-go. I wish the narrator didn’t switch every single chapter.
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (25 read of 190; children’s fiction). I am reading this aloud to my son at a very slow rate.
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (450 pages; fiction). For the book club I’m hosting at the library..
  • The Stories of John Cheever (20 of 61 stories, 820 pages total; fiction/short stories). Part of my Pulitzer Challenge. On hold for the next week. I think this will be a chunkster for reading during BBAW.

Old Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

  • Gulliver’s Travels: The Politics of Satire by Ronald Knowles (150 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). I may skim this before I return it.
  • Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels: Modern Critical Interpretations edited by Harold Bloom (195 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). I may skim this before I return it.
  • Twentieth Century Interpretations of Gulliver’s Travels edited by Frank Brady (115 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). I may skim this before I return it.

New Library Loot

I got two new books this week. I’m going out of town and not taking many of them.

  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (280 pages; fiction). For my IRL book club next week.
  • The Pooh Bedside Reader by A.R. Melrose (160 pages; nonfiction/fiction). Because I love Winnie-the-Pooh. This has excerpts from books and poems, early criticism, and personal stories of Milne.

Fantastic Finds

Rose City Reader’s Life According to Literature. This is so funny! When I have a chance, I’ll participate too.

BBAW mentions the daily topics for BBAW. I am so excited about this!! and I love the button – I’ve put it in the upper-right corner of my blog.


  • Baking Cakes in Kigali, by Gaile Parkin. Amanda at the Zen Leaf found herself both laughing and crying while reading this story. I’ve put in a request at the library. I’m so excited to read this!
  • Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norell by Susana Clark. Teresa at Shelf Love listened to the audiobook for her reread.
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. AK at Pulitzer Palavar loved this.
  • An Adundance of Katherines by John Green. I write in books thought this defined all boundaries.
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Life is a Patchwork Quilt considers this the best book she’s read all year. And I have it sitting on a shelf, unread!
  • The Glass Room by Simon Mawer. Jackie says the room is a character in this novel; it starts with architecture, and we know I’m on an architecture kick lately!
  • Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. Eva liked this one a lot.
  • The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins. Eva liked this.
  • Ourania by JMG leClezio. Emily read this novel in the original French. Not sure I want to read the novel myself (even in English) but I’m so impressed.
  • Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I have this on my reread shelf already, so Jason’s review really reminded me of how much I want to reread it. (I don’t remember much of it.)


  • The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell. Jason at 5-Squared liked the tone to the contemporary biography.
  • 150 Years of Chicago Architecture 1883-1983 by Glibot and Edelmann. Valerie mentioned in a comment that she liked this coffee table book.

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. Maybe I should add that I used to read a lot on the airplane. Now, of course, I will be traveling with a 23-month-old on my lap for three 1/2 hours!! I can’t imagine much reading will get done.

  2. I don’t tend to read a lot on vacations, but that’s normally because I end up doing a lot of things. I don’t have a lot of vacations, though, so it’s hard to tell if that’s really true…

  3. I’m really pleased to see that you have picked out The Glass Room. I am sure that you will love it.

    I really want to read Unaccustomed Earth. I have a copy on my shelves as well. Hopefully I’ll get round to it soon.

  4. Yep, I read while on vacation! I’m going camping again this weekend and hope to take a few books with me. I hope you’ll be able to get some reading done as well. And I’m secretly pleased that you like the button as I made it! He, he!!

  5. Amanda, that’s my issue too: I so rarely go places! but I don’t expect to read much this time because I hope to be doing things!

    Jackie, some day I’ll get to it! I only get two or three books read each week, compared to so many added….I’ll never catch up.

    Natasha, it’s a great button. So bright and happy! I’m impressed with you getting reading done with your little ones about while camping. That’s impressive!

    christina, I read Herland so long ago. I wonder what I’ll think when I reread it!

  6. We read so much on our vacations. It’s ridiculous. Last time my family all went camping together, we all became addicted to Forever Amber, which I was reading, and we kept stopping everything so I could read to them about what Amber was up to. 😛

  7. The only time that I ever really have to read is on vacation! I work full time, so evening are the only time I get to read and there just isn’t enough time after my daughter goes to sleep…because I fall asleep shortly after. Camping is a perfect time to read. I love snuggling up in the camper with a good book.

    I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I loved it!! It is a beautiful book and I actually cried in it (not that that’s hard). Hope you enjoy it, can’t wait to see your review!

  8. For me it depends what kind of family vacation we’re talking about…at the huge family reunion-type things I do tend to make time for reading because I’m easily overwhelmed by crowds, so I generally find myself slipping off for some alone time every day. At more intimate events I tend to read less because I’m better able to engage with small numbers of people.

    I hope you have a great trip!

  9. I used to read a lot on family vacations and outings, but not as much anymore since I don’t live at home. When I get to go home I like to spend time talking with my sister or my parents rather than burying myself in a book. But if people are busy or it’s early in the morning, I’ll usually sneak away and get some pages in — read a lot of Stiff while I was on vacation for 4th of July. Have a great vacation!

  10. I really, really enjoy Lisa See’s writing, so I hope you like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

    My main reading time is my commute to and from work, and so when I am on holidays I don’t get anywhere near as much read as I normally do.

  11. Jenny, that’s so fun! It sounds like your family is all alike!

    Tracie Yule, I can understand not reading until vacations! I think my life will go that direction, as my son gets older….I’m just glad I get time now, as I’m not working!

    Emily, I get overwhelmed by the crowds too, and that’s actually the times I found myself reading during this vacation: as wind-down from the big family dinners!

    Kim, I can understand: I found I did a lot of talking with family instead of reading, but I did find some time to read during my trip!

    J.T. Oldfield, thanks so much! I’m going to check it out!

    Marg, oh, I personally loved listening to audiobooks when I had a long commute! I don’t commute to work now, but I also didn’t get any of my audiobook listened to while on vacation!

  12. I usually get a good amount of reading done on family vacations, and that’s usually one of the reasons I so look forward to taking a vacation–so much time to read! I usually travel to warmer destinations, so sitting by the pool or on a beach with my book is how many vacation days pan out.

  13. StephanieI’m a redhead, so a vacation by the pool has never appealed to me! But I do love to sit outside and read. I think that’s how I read so much in July too!

  14. That sounds wrong. What I meant to say was I avoid sitting out in the sun by a pool because I’m a redhead that burns very easily. But I do like to sit out in a shady spot on a cool afternoon/evening.

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