I own a good-size backpack, but it’s never quite large enough to accommodate everything I want to take with me. So on the road I tend to discard books as I finish them instead of hording them (as I otherwise tend to do). Books are heavy. These days, the only pleasure reading I get to do is when I’m on vacation. I would need a second life to read all the things I never got to reading the first time around. (Of course, if I had another life to live, I’d probably fritter away that one, too, dancing and indulging myself instead of reading.) But if nothing else, I’ve been able to use this vacation to plow through the books I received as Christmas presents. So here’s my vacation reading list thus far:
“Haunted,” by Chuck Palahniuk
Totally freaked out by the fact that my mother read this book and thought, “This is just the kind of thing Ed would love.” Features virtually every imaginable sort of gore and indecency, culminating in graphic scenes of cannibalism. And of course, Mom was right.
“Wicked,” by Gregory Maguire
If nothing else, the title matches my state of mind much of the time. I prefer “Oz” to the “Wizard of Oz.” But that aside, it´s not a bad read. Turns out the old villain isn’t such a bad egg after all. In fact, she’s quite lovely in her own misunderstood way.
“The Wheel of Fortune,” by Susan Howatch
This wasn’t a Christmas book. It’s what I call desperation reading — when I’ve run out of reading material while on vacation and am therefore forced to pick from the discarded, dog-eared tomes abandoned on the hotel bookshelf. As a rule I don’t go for breathless Victorian bodice-rippers — nothing against the actual practice of bodice-ripping, mind you. But I always felt those pulpy books on the supermarket shelves were an insult to the printed word, the literary equivalent of sliding down the bannisters of the New York Public Library. But forbidden romance, unfulfilled passion — kind of sucks you in. Surprisingly, this one has a few decent laughs, too.
“A Prayer for Owen Meany,” by John Irving
Years and years ago, my then-girlfriend read this book and was so impressed that she practically begged me to read it. I started to, but I got distracted by schoolwork and never got beyond the first 50 pages. She said nothing at the time, but she took this as a personal slight and was so upset that she actually included it in a long list of grievances during our break-up talk. So for what it’s worth, Michelle, it’s a great book. Thank you belatedly for the recommendation.