Recently I spent a sun-, sand-, and taffy-filled Jersey Shore vacation. I didn't get much work done, but I managed the following:
~finished Hound of the Baskervilles, which I had picked up to prolong our June trip to England, during which we spent a glorious day exploring Dartmoor National Park. While attempting to find Hound Tor, an enormous granite outcropping, we got lost. The roads in Dartmoor aren’t very well marked. But, we did spot another tor, which we hiked. At the top we saw a stone circle with smaller stone circles within and recognized it as a Bronze Age settlement. As we poked around in the stone circle, we met two women walking their dogs and learned from them that we were in the Grimspound, the exact location where Arthur Conan Doyle set portions of Hound of the Baskervilles. One woman said, “You should be reading it right here, right now.” Indeed. Hound is a fantastic ghost story driven by setting. The moor was really spooky. And, I found Sherlock Holmes to have a fantastic sense of humor. My future reading lists will include more Holmes adventures.
~read Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures. Set in Lyme Regis, England, this novel features real-life, mid-19th century fossil hunters, Elizabeth Philpot and Mary Anning. Like Girl with the Pearl Earring, Remarkable Creatures is light fare with rich details of time and place, which made it perfect, in so many ways, for the beach. In addition to discovery, Chevalier explores women’s rights and friendship. My little family visited Lyme Regis in June. We went there for the boys so they could fossil hunt. Fossils are, 150 years after Remarkable Creatures, still incredibly abundant, and you can bring home what you find. Needless to say, we found nothing because we were on the beach at the wrong time—high tide. Who knew? In one scene, Mary Anning is digging out an ichthyosaur from the cliffs facing the English Channel when she’s caught in a landslide. Paul Theroux When I think about this book, I will remember sprawling on the bed, with its faded green gingham bedspread, in Cape May.
~continued with Anthropology of an American Girl. Slow-going b/c I'm reading it on my e-reader, which I only pick up sporadically. I read it on the airplane and in the car as we drove from Princeton to Cape May and back again. Other people read their e-readers on the beach, but I couldn’t manage to keep sand out of mine. At 150 pages into this 600 page novel, I hope to finish it this summer. Nonetheless, it is a fantastic coming of age that feels somewhat retro 70s, like reading a more grown-up version of Judy Blume. I hope the ending for Evie is uplifting but I get the sense she may be tragic.
~blasted through Cricket in Times Square with the boys, which was charming. I loved Chester Cricket and his friends Tucker Mouse and Harry Cat. The boys looked forward to listening every night, even though it felt like a slightly old-fashioned story, especially when compared to the insanity of Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs. I read the latter, in its entirety, in the ninety minutes it took for our return flight to take off (yikes). In hindsight, I could have finished one of my own books in those ninety minutes. Reading aloud to the boys helped me feel connected to them during a time when I was experiencing intense anxiety. I had to apologize to the hipsters ahead of us, who kept peeking through their seat backs to see what I was reading.