Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vacation Reading List

"Vacation reading list" usually refers to the books I pack to read in the car, on the plane,in a motel room or on the beach.  But this time, I came home from vacation with a list of "must reads".

I took a cruise with Amelia River Cruises on the rivers surrounding Amelia Island, Florida.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it. The Captain of our sight-seeing boat told a string of fascinating stories about each sight that we passed.  I was so curious about the mysterious Cumberland Island, that I ordered this book as soon as I returned to our hotel room:

Cumberland Island: Strong Women, Wild Horses by Charles Seabrook.

For centuries, Cumberland Island, which is located off the southeastern Georgia coast, has captured the imagination of visitors and inhabitants. In this book, Charles Seabrook uses circling narratives about generations of strong women who have called Cumberland Island their home to explain why this island seems to invoke strong emotions in all who come here.
From the days of Caty Greene, the widow of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Green, to Zabette, the slave mistress of Cumberland's largest landholder before the Civil War, to Lucy Carnegie, the widow of Thomas Carnegie (Andrew's younger brother), to Carol Ruckdeschel, a naturalist once profiled in the New Yorker, and Janet "Gogo" Ferguson, who played an integral role in the planning of Carolyn Bessette and John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s secret wedding on the island, we watch as these women strive to protect the island they love.
Our cruise was delayed due to foggy weather and then delayed a second time due to a mechanical problem.  While we waited, a slightly eccentric employee of the cruise entertained us with stories - some believable and some not.  One of the more believable (and fascinating) was about the people of his homeland - Newfoundland.  That led to book number 2 on my Barnes and Noble order:  The Day the World Came to Town

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community were called upon to come to the aid of more than six thousand displaced travelers.
For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed."
The Day the World Came to Town is a positively heartwarming account of the citizens of Gander and its surrounding communities and the unexpected guests who were welcomed with exemplary kindness.

While visiting Fernandina Beach, the town near our resort, I stopped in a book store to look for a book on the history of Amelia Island.  The clerk said that Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach by Roger Moore and Ron Kurtz, is their best seller.  So, I picked up an autographed copy.

I struck up a conversation with a lady browsing the table of new best sellers.  She recommended "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins - "Once you start it you won't put it down until you're done."  Of course I had to buy it after that endorsement. 

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
 And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?  Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
I also picked up a copy of Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell, for Dave.  
This richly detailed and meticulously researched historical novel continues the story she began in Doc, following Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday to Tombstone, Arizona, and to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Now all I need is another vacation so I have time to  read them all.

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