Books I read while on vacation

the house where we lived for two weeks

We stayed in a house in a small town called La Roque sur Pernes in the south of France for two weeks (pictured above). There was no internet, no tv, no radio. I didn’t take my laptop or cellphone. I did take a bunch of books, and there was a shelf-full already there. The result is that I read a lot. Here’s the list, with very short reviews.

  • Anathem, by Neal Stephenson. Awesome, A+++, will definitely re-read it. Highly recommended.
  • Moving Targets, by Margaret Atwood. Must read for Atwood fans, missable otherwise.
  • The Good Earth, by Pearl S Buck. Fantastic.
  • Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. This was a third re-read for me, so obviously I love this book.
  • Toujours Provence, by Peter Mayle. Meh.
  • My Life in France, by Julia Child. Fun and interesting. Julia was quite a woman.
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie. Excellent. My favourite of the trip. Short, one-sitting sort of thing, but absolutely fantastic.
  • World Without End, by Ken Follett. Another medieval page turner, but very, very similar to his other medieval page turner (the story of which happened in the same town some 400 years earlier). Good, but not great.
  • The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley. Erratically written and awkwardly paced. Feels like the outline of a more epic trilogy that just never got written.
  • Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. Sadly, this one doesn’t hold up. Loved it when I first read it however many years ago, sort of slogged my way through it the second time. Luckily Stephenson has already completely redeemed himself with Anathem.

Vacation lesson #1 – I love reading. I’m going to be making a lot more time for it again, mostly by getting up at 6am and not opening the laptop ’til 10am. Turns out it’s a really nice way to start a day.


2 thoughts on “Books I read while on vacation

  1. We share many tastes in books. Currently reading Anathem, which is so different from the Baroque Trilogy that I wasn't sure I'd like it, and now am completely engrossed. Also enjoyed World Without End (assume you've read the earlier Pillars of the Earth and Rutherford's Sarum). We loved Toujours Provence which my wife and I read while living in southern Germany, on the French border. She just finished the Time Traveler's Wife and says it was great. Haven't read The Good Earth since school, so may have to re-read that classic.Thanks for sharing and giving me some more to add to my list.

  2. Had a sneaking suspicion that World Without End wouldn't measure up. Granted, Pillars of the Earth had its troublesome moments– the line “Suddenly, Jack had a brainwave” stands out to me– but the grandness of the scope made up for it. Not sure if a bridge can capture the imagination in the same way as a cathedral. Eh, I'll probably rent it with my account in case I want to mail it back after the first few chapters.

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