It's time for a new edition of "Packing for a Reading Retreat" (though I am a touch late), where I imagine which books I would take with me if I were heading to a reading retreat, where there would be no distractions and I would be free to do nothing but read for a week. I imagine my packing in three categories: "New to Me," for books I've never read before; "Old Favorites," for past reads I'd like to revisit; and "Just in Case," for one book that can always be counted on to save me if one of the other selections turns out to be a dud.
New to Me
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
I've had this one on hand for awhile now, but haven't cracked it open yet (though I have read Mitchell's Black Swan Green, which I gather is a very different sort of book, but which I enjoyed immensely). I saw a preview for the movie version of Cloud Atlas and I quite literally wrinkled up my nose and said, "Cloud Atlas Cloud Atlas? Like, David Mitchell? Is that what that book is about?" It was all science fiction-y-ish with the same actors playing different characters in different time periods. I sort of knew that there was an element of souls appearing in different eras or reincarnation or something in Cloud Atlas, but the feel of the movie preview sort of shocked me in being not what I expected from that book. But it looked like a movie I would like to see and it seems like a book I would definitely want to have read before seeing the movie, so it's been bumped up my mental list of books to read soon.
Canada, Richard Ford
I recently saw a tiny snippet of an interview with Richard Ford which made me think I really ought to read something by him. Canada is his latest, and I can't say that I picked it out of all his works for much more reason than because it is the most recent (and maybe because the story--a teenaged boy has to learn to fend for himself and avoid Child Services after his parents rob a bank--appealed to me).
The Time in Between, María Dueñas, trsl. Daniel Hahn
I have to confess that the cover and the first sentence ("A typewriter shattered my destiny.") are what drew me to this book and remain the chief reasons I want to read it. Though the setting (WWII, Europe), as always, appeals. I mean, who could resist that first line?
The Little House on the Prairie books, Laura Ingalls Wilder
This is the tiniest bit of a cheat, as I've already dipped in to these, but I am still very eager to carry on with them, so I call it fair. A recent review of the Little House books highlighted the darkness and danger of living on the frontiers, and that prompted me to want to reread these childhood favorites.
Just in Case
Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson
A beloved childhood read about a young man who sets out to seek his fortune and runs afoul of a dastardly uncle, is kidnapped, and then must make his way home through the Scottish Highlands during the turmoil in the years after the '45. A pretty solid adventure story with a fascinating setting and wonderful attention to historical and political detail.
Previous Editions of Packing for a Reading Retreat: