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Summer reading

Thanks again to everyone who made recommendations here and on Twitter for my vacation reading.  While in Greece, I ended up devouring the phenomenal Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple; enjoying the impressive and delightful History of Love by Nicole Krauss; dipping in and out of Joan Didion’s The White Album, which I’d somehow never read, but mostly really liked; and immersing myself in Jorge Luis Borges’s A Personal Anthology.  Plus I got through a healthy chunk of Tao Lin’s very engaging Taipei, which I hope to finish reading this weekend.

These might be somewhat atypical vacation reads.  Mostly I want something that will keep me from watching bad movies on the plane (though I did watch one of those anyway, plus another that was a likably ambitious failure) and entice me away from a mid-afternoon nap.  Something that will hold my attention so well that I’m grateful for an extra hour spent on the runway or an unexpected delay.  I usually try to pack away some things that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while but keep letting slip by me.  If I can trim down those teetering piles that look guiltily at me from all around my apartment and office, I get to experience the illusion of progress while simultaneously enjoying myself. Since I like to compete with myself, I like ‘em short and digestible enough that I can read a whole bunch of books instead of just one or two.  I also tend to steer clear of things that are very much like what I read for work, so there’s not as much commercial fiction or YA as I’d normally read throughout the year.  And I always try to get in at least one book that publishing is buzzing about, so I’ll have something current to chat knowledgably about at lunches and parties.

But judging by the airport bookstores, these aren’t exactly the average person’s criteria.  And understandably so.  So what have you tackled this summer, and how did you pick?

BTW, have you been to Greece?  If not, I highly recommend it.  It’s exactly what you think it will be, in the best possible way.  If you go, be sure to make it to the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, where you can see Lord Byron’s graffiti carved into a column!  Such a delinquent.  Check out his handiwork:

In the close-up, look for “Byron” just below the center of the photo.  It’s in the part that’s lighter than the rest.  I’m guessing that back when you used to be able to walk right up to it, people took rubbings of the impression or something.  If I had a time machine, I’d go back to the time before we preserved art and history quite so carefully and do a world tour of all those things that are behind barriers and glass now.  I wanna stand in the middle of Stonehenge, dammit.

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