Read a Book or Three on Your Next Vacation
By Jared Richards, Public Services Manager
I recently went on a vacation where I had copious amounts of time to read. That doesn’t happen very often anymore. Despite one of the greatest misconceptions about working in a library, I don’t sit around at work reading books, and when I get home there are other distractions that readily pull me away from reading, like watching a tiny human or doing adult things like washing dishes. But when the opportunity presents itself to sit in the shade on a nice day reading books for hours, I do my best to embrace it.
I stumbled across “The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes when I picked it at random for a project. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and this is one of the few times I’ve actually been excited to find out a book is part of a series because I can’t wait to jump into the others.
Our protagonist, Avery Grambs, is a clever teenager who has been through some hard times but is just trying to keep her head down so she can get through high school and make it to college. Then a mysterious billionaire, who she’s never met, leaves most of his fortune to her in his will, with the caveat that she must move to his large estate and live there for a year. The sprawling house is filled with secret passages, multiple libraries, and a bowling alley. Oh, and the family that has just been disinherited, because they’re still allowed to live there. Mysteries and puzzle-solving ensue as Avery and the billionaire’s grandsons attempt to figure out the patriarch’s motive.
It has been quite awhile since a book has sucked me in so thoroughly. This is partially due to the fact that each chapter is only a few pages long, with ninety-one chapters all together. Like Pringles or lives in “Super Mario Bros.,” with chapters so short it’s too easy to say “just one more,” and then find yourself still reading an hour later when everyone else has gone to sleep.
“The Gentleman” by Forrest Leo is the funniest book I have read in a while, with a plot even more incredible than a teenager inheriting billions of dollars from a stranger. Lionel Savage is a poet in Victorian London, and he decides to marry for money, not love, after his butler informs him that he’s broke. Lionel immediately regrets this decision because he thinks being married to someone he doesn’t actually like has affected his poetry. This regret is superseded by an even larger regret following a visit with the Devil at a party, after which his wife disappears and he is left only with the assumption that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the Devil, and the dawning realization that he might actually love his wife.
Upon this realization, Lionel enlists the help of his wife’s adventurous brother, his recently expelled younger sister, his knowledgeable butler, and the inventor of a flying machine, with the goal of going to Hell to rescue his wife. Along the way Lionel must survive duels, the barbs of a rival poet, an inventors’ club prone to fires, and the stress of trying to prove that “Devil” can be pronounced as one syllable so it fits in his poem. This book reminded me a lot of P. G. Wodehouse’s characters Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves. If you’re a fan of books like “My Man Jeeves,” I think you’ll like “The Gentleman.”
Amanda Ripley’s “The Unthinkable” looks at disasters throughout history, including interviews with survivors, and presents research about why humans react the way they do in those types of dangerous situations. This understanding will hopefully help readers if they happen to find themselves in a disaster.
It’s a fascinating book, but I chose two of the worst times to read it. The first, right before bed, which made it hard to fall asleep with all of the potential chaos running through my head. And the second, on a plane, while reading a passage about plane crashes. So save this book for a nice, sunny day, or maybe when you’re hanging out in a secure, underground bunker. But definitely read it.
Having returned from vacation, my book perusal has predictably dropped precipitously. Not quite to pre-vacation levels, however, because I am actively making time for reading. The structure of it is not quite as fun as lazing about on vacation, but I can put on some ocean sounds and at least pretend.