There was a great little piece on The Millions yesterday disputing the popular notion that "vacation reads" should be low-impact books that don't overtax your lazy, delicate brain.
This notion is why I always flail a bit when asked for vacation-read suggestions (before inevitably recommending Carter Beats the Devil): If I know I'm going to have extensive, uninterrupted time to read—and particularly if I'm going to be relying on a book to keep me company—I want something heavy, something that's going to demand and reward my full attention.
And so I read 100 Years of Solitude on a beach, Flannery O'Connor and Henry James on a train. On my last big vacation I got hooked on Kate Atkinson after coming across Case Histories in a bookstore, and it was kind of the worst—she's so great, but her books go by so so quickly, which to my mind makes them terrible vacation reads.
I was an author events coordinator in Boston at the time, and we had just hosted Paul Collins. Of the several dozen author events I worked during my years there, his remains my favorite. His 40-minute talk was warm, engaging, informative, surprising, funny, inspiring, and delivered without notes. Every person in attendance, a tragically small number, purchased every one of his books.
Collins is one of those local authors I've long meant to read, but somehow never gotten around to. I've got a trip to Denver coming up....