What I Read on Vacation
When I go on vacation, I love to be active and see new things and visit people, but I also want to do a lot of reading. When I was packing for my recent trip to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Phoenix, I spent days thinking about what books I was going to bring. I didn't start thinking about clothes or anything else I might need until about a half hour before I had to leave for the airport.
The book I was most determined to finish was the fifth book in George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance with Dragons, which I'd started in January. I wound up finishing it in a quiet spot on the edge of the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, and other fans of the series will probably appreciate the urge I had to fling the book into the abyss when I was done with it, though I resisted. If you haven't read the series, it's one you might like if you're the sort of person who likes things that could be described as epic or that have a cult following. For instance, if you liked LOST, you'll probably like George R.R. Martin. This series (and the HBO show based on it) are complex, layered, and long. Finishing one of these books feels like an accomplishment.
After finishing that behemoth (1016 pages!), I flew through two other books. The first was Care to Make Love in that Gross Little Place Between Cars?, which I had to buy because no libraries in our system own it. It's a sequel to You're a Horrible Person, But I Like You, which is in the system. Both books feature comedians and other writers responding to advice column questions. Contributors to the second volume include Louis C.K., Amy Sedaris, and Weird Al Yankovic. The book is ideal light vacation reading and very funny, though I think I liked the first book more (which may just be because it featured my favorite comedian, Marc Maron).
On a more serious note, I read Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps by Dave Isay. I wound up reading the whole thing on a layover in Chicago's O'Hare Airport, and the stories are so beautiful that I was there sniffling and wiping my eyes the whole time. It includes this story about Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel, which I'd heard before (on the StoryCorps podcast), and is one of the most profound stories of forgiveness and healing I've ever encountered. Another one that really gets me is this story about Wil Smith and his daughter, Olivia. There are a few other StoryCorps collections out there, and they'll all make you feel better about humanity. All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps is another favorite of mine.
Other than that, I caught up on my subscriptions to Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone. Magazines are always perfect for a trip.