08 January 2013

I'm going to be hanging out with these guys

For the next two weeks I hope to spend a lot of time reading (and probably very little time blogging). Lucy and the house have a sitter, my steamer trunk is packed, motion sickness tablets are at the ready, and we are off to sail the seven seas. Okay, maybe not all seven of them but we do plan to see an awful lot of the Caribbean.

Until we went on our first--and so far only--cruise four years ago, we thought they were for losers. But then we found a ship that was actually kind of tasteful, had great food, and a really fantastic spa. When we pulled back into port in the U.S. we felt like seven days just wasn't long enough. So this time we are going for fourteen freakin' days.

And my favorite days are the days at sea (five of them on this cruise) where there is nothing to do but read, have massages, and sit on our verandah and stare at the ocean. (Of course there are many other things to do, but that pretty much sums up what I plan to do.)

Now the ship has a library that is bound to have one or two things that might be fun to read on vacation, but with fourteen days I can't really risk that. Plus I accepted the TBR Double Dog Dare, so until April 1st, I can only read books already in my TBR pile so the books in the ship's library are off limits. At least for anything more than browsing.

Will seven books be enough? Should I add an eighth just in case? I always overpack books, but, but, but, what if....?!

On my first round choosing I was only going to take books that are on my Century of Books list, but then I worried that I was setting myself up for trouble.  So I decided I needed to throw in a few things that uh, are, um, just plain old escapist.

So here is the breakdown...

The China Governess
by Margery Allingham
Normally I don't care much for mysteries or crime fiction. I tend to find them a little pat for my tastes. Everything falls into place too neatly. But there is something about vintage green Penguin that always seems to attract me when I contemplate vacation reading. So, fingers crossed on this one.

The Riddle of the Sands
by Erskine Childers
I will admit I bought this one at a remainders sale simply because I liked the cover and the author's name seemed vaguely familiar. Since then, some of you have said that this is a great read. It is a spy story which I can sometimes quite enjoy. This one is on my Century of Books list. More fingers crossed.

The Garrick Year
by Margaret Drabble
Margaret Drabble is a pretty reliable author for me, so I don't worry too much about whether or not I will enjoy it. I was having a difficult time finding something to read for 1964 when I stumbled across this one.

The Immoralist
by Andre Gide
I read this back in 1998, but I remember nothing about it. I must have liked it. I gave it an eight out of ten and it started off a mini-frenzy of Gide reading that year. Earlier this year when I needed to find a 1902 book for my Century list this is one that popped up in my search. So I am going to give it another go. My copy smells really good. Like a secondhand bookshop-but not the musty kind.

Passing On
by Penelope Lively
Although I have yet to find a Lively novel that lives up to the joy I got from my first Lively (Consequences), I still trust her to deliver the goods.

An Old Captivity by Nevil Shute
The decidedly old fashioned, sometimes hokey, Nevil Shute has never failed to entertain me--even when he made me sob for the last 30 pages of On the Beach. One could describe much of his work as action adventure romances for engineers and other eggheads. This one looks a bit different than most others I have read by him: "In the shelter of a Greenland fiord, shunned by their Eskimo helpers, an elderly Oxford don and his golden-haired daughter..."

The Blue Sapphire
by D.E. Stevenson
Looking at this atrocious cover, would you ever guess it was written by the woman who blessed the world with Miss Buncle's Book? Most of Stevenson's non-Buncle oeuvre are pretty typical romances of the NON-bodice ripping variety. They usually involve some sort of newly acquired real estate (cottages, house on cliffs, etc.). So far she has always entertained me. But this cover has me worried. It just looks sooo conventional.

Now what should I add for my eighth book? Must go look at the TBR pile.


  1. Sounds wonderful. Want to see this steamer trunk. ;-)

  2. The Garrick Year is one of the few Margaret Drabbles I've read, but it was good! Have a great trip!

  3. Oh Thomas, The Garrick Year was my choice for that slot in A Century of Books... I'd better not link to my review. Not a successful read for me.

    Btw, I love the layout of this post - such a nice design idea to have the books horizontal.

  4. Do you have something on your TBR shelves that was published in this century? Since your foray in to 2012/Ian McEwan successful, maybe you could take a modern book as your eight?

    I have only been on a cruise once. It was for one week. I don’t think I would do it again, but I agree with you, the days at sea are the best. Another thing I liked about being on a cruise was the sense of really being AWAY, cut off. Enjoy your trip. I look forward to seeing your photos when you return and hearing about what you read!

  5. Have a wonderful trip - the books looks perfect for a vacation at sea:)

  6. Interesting mix of books, something for every mood. I need to start tackling Century challenge books too... Just as soon as I have read and returned some of these library books I keep piling up by the bed! Have a great cruise. :)

  7. Have a terrific vacation, Thomas. Your book list looks like a lot of fun, nothing too heavy (in both senses of the word).

    I loved Penelope Lively's memoir of her childhood in Egypt - "Oleander, Jacaranda." But then, I tend to like nonfiction written by novelists more than I like their novels.

  8. Bon voyage, Thomas! I'm on the last few pages of Miss Ranskill Comes Home...don't go leaning overboard, that's all I can say.

  9. Have a wonderful time and I do hope you will have enough reading material! :)

  10. I think an eighth book is a must!


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