These books are made for sublime holiday experiences


Perfect vacation plus perfect book equals perfect experience. At least that’s the hope. As we settle into the languid part of summer, I asked readers to share sublime book and vacation combinations that stuck with them.

Clark Silcox of the District has an unusual practice. He brings a book that he has already read to take a second look. “Usually I find both the book and the reading experience different from the first time,” he wrote.

Clark usually doesn’t try to match the setting of the book with the location of the holiday. But he did it once and went through “The Magus”… John Fowles on vacation to the pair of Greek islands he visited in 2002. Clark first read the 1965 book in the early 1970s, a few years after a movie was based on it.

“Set on the coastal waters of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, it fuses Greek myth and a bit of World War II history into a novel of delights,” Clark wrote. “Perhaps it was the shimmering waters of the Aegean Sea around Naxos and Santorini that recalled similar visions in the scenes from the film and book, but the novel was just as good the second time around.”

A beach was also the setting for one of the strongest reading memories of Marti Anderson. “I got totally confused on Waikiki while reading ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’” wrote Marti, who lives in Portland, Oregon. “I kept saying, ’20 more minutes.’ But I don’t think I could have put it anywhere. For me it was a great experience.”

Lee Solter from Urbana, Illinois, just spent two weeks with her husband, Philo, at a paddle-in cabin in northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. There were many rainy days, perfect for sheltering with a good book.

Lee read “How to Catch a Mole” by Marc Hamer, which she said is “a beautiful memoir about loving nature.” And Phil brought “Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art” from Rebecca Wragg Sykessometimes reading aloud to Lee during marathon puzzle sessions.

Lee wrote, “Reading about our (partial) Neanderthal ancestors and their hunter-gatherer lifestyles was perfect, complementing muffins and cobblers made with wild berries we collected.”

Before embarking on a family trip to Barcelona, Dennis Van Derlaske from Woodbridge, Maryland, handed out some homework. He bought several paperback copies of “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – a book about books and Barcelona – for everyone to read. “It was a great way to get into an unfamiliar city,” Dennis wrote.

Judy Lacourciere from St. Petersburg, Florida, would fill a paper bag with books during childhood car trips. “The longer the book, the better,” she wrote. “I loved reading the ‘Mary Poppins’ series or a lot of” books from . to reread Ray Bradbury. Now her main criterion for a trip is that the book is long, especially when she’s flying, so she always has something to read.

Judy wrote: “The last book I had with me was ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’, which was wonderful and captivating, and every now and then I would look out the window at the clouds around me and the world below, which was until my pleasure”, referring to the book by Anthony Doerr.

While traveling to Israel, Stuart Lewis van Leesburg, Va., read through “The Source” James Michener. “It was really great to read because it was about Israel’s biblical history,” Stuart wrote. “It was great to read on its own, but even better when combined with my travels.”

Tina Rhea van Greenbelt, Md., advises, “Whatever books you choose to take with you on a trip, if you have a companion, contact them. You may want to switch books halfway through the trip.”

She added: “During a rainy week in the mountains of Puerto Rico, my husband sighed when he picked up my copy of ‘Outlander’ from Diana Gabaldon, but he was surprised to find that the time travel novel had enough adventure to keep his interest.” Tina thinks her husband took “The Lord of the Rings” with him on that trip. She was happy to read it again.

While on holiday in Spain and France, Alice Ma from Durham, NC, read through 11 of the “Bruno, Chief Constable” Mysteries Martin Walkerwho will soon publish the 15th in his series about a police officer in a part of southern France called the Perigord.

“I was transfixed and my next vacation will definitely be there,” she said. “The mysteries were secondary to scenes of the farmers’ markets, the rivers, the castles, the stables, and the descriptions of the food and wine.”

Alice wrote: “There’s nothing like planning your next vacation while enjoying your current one. I came back super relaxed and anticipating my next vacation.”

Doesn’t it sometimes seem like what we need after a vacation…is another vacation?

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