Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Vacation Reading!


Terry here, with our question of the week: When you’re on vacation, do you take a break from reading crime fiction, never mind writing it? Do you read at all? 

 Funny this question comes up right now. I’m on vacation in Iceland. Or at least I will be by the time this is posted. I’m actually writing it in advance. The answer to the question is that I read, read, read on vacation. And, as usual, I read most everything. As much as I love several different variations of crime fiction, I don’t read it exclusively. I sometimes need a break. 

For example, in preparation for my trip, a couple of weeks ago I read Iceland’s Nobel Prize-winning author Haldor Laxness’s brilliant book, Independent People. As is true of most Nobel Prize winners, the book was by turns dark, hilarious, frustrating, and deeply affecting. I loved it. Update: Mid-trip, I find myself thinking about the book often, with its descriptions of sheep farming and the brutal life of a farmer in the early twentieth century. 

When I travel in another country, I like to read books set there, so I’ll be tackling two other books by Icelandic authors, Animal Life, by Audur Ava Olafsdaottir; and Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent. I find it lends richness to my travels when I read things about the area I’m visiting. Update: At Bouchercon last week, I was astonished to find that I was on a panel with Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson, so I picked up a copy of his thriller, Outside and it’s a great read. I read it on my way to Iceland, in full panic mode the whole time. 

 I also write on vacation. My fourth book, A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge, was almost entirely written on a tiny iPad keyboard in Africa. Every afternoon, while all the other members of the tour were sleeping, I wrote. Whether I’ll have time to do that in Iceland, I don’t know. But since I just last week wrote “The End” on Samuel Craddock #11, I don’t feel a huge compulsion to write. (By the way, just because I wrote The End doesn’t actually mean it’s finished. I already have major revisions in mind.) 

 That said, I need to get cracking on the second Jessie Madison book, a new series about a member of the FBI dive team. Will I manage to do that while I’m on vacation? Stay tuned. All I know now is that I just got word that the bang-up team at Severn House is working on the cover for the first, which comes out next April. Update: No writing as of halfway through the trip. 

 More Update: On the first week of our trip I’ve gotten lots of recommendations for books about Iceland. Most frequently recommended is, How Iceland Changed the World: The Big History of a Small Island, by Egill Bjarnason. I probably won’t have time to read it on the trip, because every day is crammed with adventure. 

Note the troll guarding the glacier pictured. Icelandic people believe in trolls and elves!

But I don't only read local fiction. The last few nights I’ve been reading a hilarious book, Play the Fool, by Lina Chern, a debut author I heard talk about her book at Bouchercon. (Highly recommended). 

Today at a fascinating museum I snagged another book in English by the Nobel Prize-winning Haldor Laxness, called Under the Glacier. While I was talking to the young man who was in charge at the museum, he told me he enjoys reading Laxness because in Icelandic he writes with no usual punctuation and he refuses to stick to proper spelling. That’s the kind of interesting tidbit you learn when you talk to people about what you’re reading in another country. 

 Finally, our guide promised us that we will go to a bookstore with lots of Icelandic titles translated into English, and that I’ll be able to find more Ragnar Jonasson there. So I guess I’ll be busy reading right on through the trip.

1 comment:

Susan C Shea said...

A reading tornado! Your vacation sounds like an upper division university class with lots of field trips!