Home, sweet, home

27 Aug

My travels are over, at least for a month or so, a significant gap when you consider I’ve been on the road for most of the last 2 months. I got to be uber-touristy in Israel, but I also got a chance to play like the locals and hang out at coffee shops and public squares with a good book. Reading in a foreign country, I found, is a very different experience from reading at home. It’s a strange statement, I know, but I’ll explain. At home, I always feel like reading is something I have to set aside time to do. There’s always something else happening, or someplace else I should be, and reading is something I have to make an effort to do. Traveling, and traveling in a foreign country specifically, lends itself easily to reading for really extended periods of time. In the week or so before the wedding, I had some plans, none of which were really that solid – museums I wanted to see, tours I wanted to take – but with the exception of one day where I made plans with my cousin to travel to see Masada, an archaeological site near the Dead Sea, I largely had no firm schedule. It was heavenly :).

I’m still in the midst of marathon training so the first Sunday I was in Jerusalem, I had a 10-mile run on my training schedule, which I got out of the way while it was still relatively cool. But the city is nothing but hills, and the heat is dry —  characteristics that made my run unfamiliar and difficult. (In DC, it’s all about humidity and flat ground). I was wiped out by the run, so instead of spending my afternoon in the Old City like I’d originally planned, I spent the rest of the day, 8 hours or so, moving from one cafe or restaurant to another, from park bench to park bench, and read the last 300 pages of Angels and Demons and all of The Jane Austen Book Club. I consider it one of my most productive days in Israel.

But since I posted last, I have read If I Stay, Paper Towns by John Green (who is quite possibly one of my favorite authors, ever, and certainly my favorite YA author), Angels and Demons, The Jane Austen Book Club, Hollywood Wives, A Separate Peace, and the first half of Pillars of the Earth, which I’m really enjoying so far. It’s quite a list, and I’d love to individually review or discuss them all. Alas, I’m not that on top of it, and this will just have to suffice:

  • If I Stay was a really amazing book. Amazing. Seriously. Go read this beautifully crafted, haunting and original YA book right now.
  • Paper Towns was much like all the rest of Green’s books: socially awkward but sincerely sweet, smart boy goes chasing after a girl that is way out of his league but seems to have a thing for him too. It’s a formula, yes, but it’s one that works. Paper Towns was no exception. Definitely worth a read.
  • Angels and Demons was, well — I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t griping and fast and completely engaging. I’d also be lying if I said it was well-written.
  • Jane Austen Book Club felt to me targeted to an audience about 25 years older than me, but I still really enjoyed it. I would not have enjoyed it if I wasn’t familiar with all of Austen’s works. Don’t even attempt this one, unless you’ve got a pretty good sense of all of Austen’s plots and characters. Or if you hate Austen. The author and all the characters are huge fans of Jane and you’d be wise to not read this if you are at all ambivilent about her.
  • I was shocked at how much I loved Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins. It is the trashiest of trash and it was all the better for it. I was so completely engaged by the plot that I didn’t care who saw me with the bright pink mass market. Plus it’s a really funny look at what the 80s were like in Hollywood. It was probably par for the course back when it was published, but not having that view firsthand this is a particularly good cultural reference. Like that scene in Pretty Woman with the car phones. Who has a car phone??
  • I really wanted to like A Separate Peace. I really did. But I didn’t. I’m sorry John Knowles, but no one talks like that, I don’t care if it is 1943 in New Hampshire at a boys’ school. I couldn’t relate to the characters, and I couldn’t get excited about the non-existent conflicts. It was almost painful to finish.
  • Pillars of the Earth: I’m enamored with this 900+ page behemoth. I’m halfway done, and will now end this post, so I can go continue reading it.

Okay not quite, but I hope not all 5 of my readers abandoned me while I was away. It’s nice to be home, whether I have to make an effort to turn the pages or not.


4 Responses to “Home, sweet, home”

  1. Lusty Reader August 27, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    oooh a separate peace, i haven’t thought of that in years! are you reading it for one of your challenges, what would make you pick that up?

    i read it back in 8th grade and the ONLY thing i remember is one of the guys had a weird name, Phinneaus? like Julia Roberts’ baby? and he fell out a window and broke his arm. and it was dumb.

    am i close?

    • Rachel August 27, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

      Yeah pretty much that’s the plot. Only he falls out of a tree not a window, and breaks his leg not his arm. And yes really dumb.

      I read it for the Father’s Day task for the summer challenge which said to read a book that was published the year your father was born (1959) and a book the year you were born. So A Separate Peace was 1959 and Hollywood Wives was 1983.

  2. Lusty Reader August 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

    ah yes, there was a tree on the cover of my copy.

    that Father’s day challenge is cool! hmm i might give it a try for fun…1953 and 1983 for me!


  1. Taking This Show on the Road « a home between pages - April 26, 2011

    […] one year but certainly not the distance traveled. In 2009 I also had five weddings and you might recall that I traveled to Israel all by myself for my cousin’s wedding. I lugged a bunch of books […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: