Sunday in photographs

Monday 25 June 2012

“You should only read what is truly good or what is frankly bad.”

Before climbing aboard a plane en route to Punta Cana, I had a little bit of guilt about going on a beach vacation. I had never been on one before, and with so much world to see, it seemed careless to spend the little time I have away from the office on a relaxing vacation where my biggest decisions were “Should I hit the pool or the beach?” or “Should I drink a Miami Vice or a Banana Mama?” Let me just say, all feelings of guilt subsided as soon as I found myself on a sandy blue beach chair cracking the first of the three books I read while on vacation.

Choosing a vacation read, oddly enough, can be best summed up by a line I read in A Moveable Feast, the third book I devoured while away: “You should only read what is truly good or what is frankly bad.” I agonize over which books to bring on vacation, and, generally, each choice inevitably falls neatly into one of two categories: Classics or guilty pleasures.

Classics are the books I’ve put off reading for a decade because I never feel I have the time to devote to them. They’re the books that I picked up years ago at a garage sale or a bookstore, but they’ve collected dust on my shelves, simply because I know I can’t do them justice, reading just a few pages at a time in between buses on my way home from work. This is the reason I’ve never finished On The Road or Farley Mowat’s Bay of Spirits. I started both in idyllic settings, either camping or cottaging, and I haven’t been willing to settle for anything less when reading each book’s second half.

A Moveable Feast, the last of the three books I read in Punta Cana, falls into the Classics category. It’s been high on my to-read list, especially since travelling to France in 2010. I was happy to find a well-loved copy of the book at J.H. Gordon Booksellers that was already bent and creased. It made soaking it with salt water and sprinkling it with sand more bearable. It also meant I didn’t mind dog-earring it at least two dozen times with quotations that I didn’t want to forget. A Moveable Feast is heaping with memorable lines — some about food, some about love, and many about what it was like to be young and ambitious in 1920s Paris.

My other two reads fall into the Guilty Pleasure category. Guilty pleasure reads are always easily digestible, quick to read, and often fuelled by my love for nostalgia. I’m not saying these books are bad, but they don’t require much concentration, which is key when you’re suffering from mild sunstroke and the effects of seven Banana Mamas.

"Edward hit the ground with a sickening crack. The horrifying sound split the air, louder than Mary's screams." Lines like these reminded me why I loved R.L. Stine's Fear Street Saga books so much in my early teens, and why I was equally as hooked rereading them now, in my late 20s. With each chapter ending with a hook, such as "The dark figure stared at her without moving," these books were just as impossible for me to put down as they were fifteen years ago.

After a hectic year at work, a beach vacation proved to be exactly what I needed, complete with good food, good company, a lot of reading, and even an engagement ring.

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