Ah, the good old days of vacation reading....

I remember winter break as if it were only yesterday. Actually, it technically ended day before yesterday. For me, it ended after Jan. 1, when I had to start cranking out my paper for the ALISE conference.

Here's some of what I read in those now bygone days...

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
An old man, now in a nursing home, flashes back to his younger days when he ran away and became a circus vet, met the love of his life, and witnessed a gruesome murder. This is a good read, page-turning, and heartbreaking in places but ultimately hopeful. Hopeful because we don't have to give up dignity, even if our circumstances seem wretched.

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

You can see why women's self-help gurus of today might want to trace their origins back to this vaunted little tome. A couple of quotes:

On honesty: "I find that I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere." (p. 32)

"We are all, in the last analysis, alone. And this basic state of solitude is not something we have any choice about." (p. 41)

"The sunrise shell [a perfect, matched pairing] has the eternal validity of all beautiful and fleeting things." (p. 76)

On unstoppable change:
"Intermittency--an impossible lesson for humans beings to learn. How can one learn to live through the ebb-tides of one's existence? How can one learn to take the trough of the wave?" (p. 109)

I don't know, but as we do survive it, I'm hopeful that there must be some way that we can learn to take it.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

I am a lazy Francophile. I love French stuff, French language, movies, food, when I happen to come across it, but I rarely seek it out deliberately. This book was an exception, and it was a pleasure to read. Mayle immerses the reader in the practical side of life in Provence, which is to say that there is much about FOOD. I love food, love eating it, love reading about it, and I swear just thinking about that delicious food in Provence made everything I ate this holiday season taste better. It certainly inspired me to get back to my favorite everyday creative activity: cooking. No special quotes to keep from this one, just a lovely lilting read.

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