Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Traveling Through Time from a Beach in Mexico

This story begins back about sixty years or so ago when I became interested in reading.  Although I do not remember what the exact book was that began my love affair with reading, I do remember a book of Bible stories for children and, of course, the Nancy Drew series.  Yes, over the years I read all of them.

It drove my mother to distraction that I would have rather read then be outside playing or going somewhere with friends.  Of course, by teenage years that was tempered some, but not completely.

Still an avid reader, to put it mildly, on my latest trip to the beach in December, January and part of February, one of the greatest parts of the trip was having time to read as much as I wanted. 

In preparation for the trip, I downloaded about sixty books.  No, it was not my plan nor did I accomplish reading that many, but, they were there if and when I wanted them.  It was necessary to download them ahead of time because where I was staying, the house has solar power and is not always fully powered.
The Kindle was a GREAT resource, to put it mildly.

Little did I know that about a month into the trip I would become deathly ill and have no energy or ability to walk the beach or much else.  But, of course, at times, I could read.  It was a godsend.

With a view of the ocean and the wildlife, with a book, was just perfect, except for being ill.

In addition, a bag of books came along as well.  I always leave them wherever I stay for others to enjoy after I have read them and leave.  It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.  I do admit, that the Kindle made it all a lot easier at times.  Most times.

Here is a list of some of the books I read:

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho - one of the most intriguing that I read.
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
The Confession, John Grisham - always a quick read
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zeven
At the Water's Edge, Sara Gruen
Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate Dicarmillo
Aztec, Colin Falconer - a favorite
Bittersweet, Colleen McCullough - about Australia
Roadwalkers (Voices of the South, Shirley Ann Grau - I learned that people, many children,
                          during the Depression had no home or place to go so they walked from home
                          to home or farm hoping for food.  Truly an eye opening book
The Towers of Tuscany,  Carol M. Crum - a true story
Call of the Kiwi, Sara Lack - about New Zealand and the involvement of their soldiers in WWI.
Madam Tussaud, A novel of the French Revolution, Michelle Moran - Fascinating
Charleston, Margaret Bradham Thornton
A Thousand Days in Venice, Marlena de Blasi
The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd - A favorite
For One more Day, Mitch Albom

There were many more as I think the final count was 22~!  Every one of these books expanded my horizons.  Learning something new every day always captivates me.

It was such a treat, especially since I've been so busy since returning to San Miguel that I have not had a chance to read for six weeks!

My two most favorite books, which I think I've mentioned before were The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

What are some of the books that you have read that I should add to my reading list?  Please share!


Cat in KC MO said...

I would suggest reading 'The Lost World of Quintana Roo' by Michel Peissel who was a young Frenchman who explored the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the late 50s or early 60s.

Babs said...

Thanks Cat, I'll check it out! I'll bet it is interesting.

Barbara Lane said...

Oh I couldn't agree more re having books, books, and more books. I'm good-to-go anywhere for any length of time as long as I have a book. You asked - and this is just a drop in the bucket: 'A Man Called Ove' by Fredrik Backman, 'Wonder' by R.J. Palacio, 'The Lacuna' by Barbara Kingsolver, 'Rain of Gold' by Victor Villaseñor (read all of his – you’ll be compelled to after this one, but this is a wonderful place to start), 'The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir' by Domingo Martinez, Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, 'Water for Elephants' by Sara Gruen....oh I could go on! Thank you for your favorites – I, too, adored 'The Shadow of the Wind'. And one of my all-time favorites (swoon) - 'Tim' by Colleen McCullough - oh my. (She is, of course, best known for 'The Thorn Birds' but 'Tim' - her first novel - is by far her best work in my opinion.)

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Just reread Shantaram. Spent a bunch of time in India and that book catches it. Am now diving into The Labyrinth of Solitude, my first book by Octavio Paz, and boy have I been missing something! It's hard to pick favories. They change as I change - and as they change me, too. Happy reading!

Barbara Lane said...

Oh yes, Shantaram. The sequel as well. And MWA sums up how favorites change as we do perfectly.

Carol Cram said...

Thank you for including my novel The Towers of Tuscany in your list! I'm honored to be included with so many great books. May I just note that The Towers of Tuscany is not a true story. So far as we know, there were no women painters in Tuscany during the fourteenth century. There probably could have been, but my novel is definitely fiction (although hopefully plausible fiction!). Also, my last name is Cram (not Crum!). Totally appreciate your listing!

Babs said...

Thank you Carol for taking time to comment on the blog! I SO apologize for spelling your name incorrectly. I had written it on a sheet of paper and could not read my own writing! Sorry. I thought there was a footnote or mention at the end of the book that the place that the story was placed was an actual place! Again, my apologies. I certainly enjoyed the story, however.

Any other books in the works?

Babs said...

Thanks Barbara Lane and Mountain Woman for providing more books for me to check out.

Barb, Sara Gruen is such an excellent writer and I had read the book about the elephants.....which led me to the book on my blog list. Thanks!

I'm leaving the house this morning for appointments with my Kindle in hand. Hopefully I'll get to read a bit today!

Donna said...

The idea of a reading vacation has always been a dream of mine... though I would hope not to be forced to it by illness. That's a wonderful list you have put up here. And I have to agree about Shadow of the Wind. It is one of my all-time favorite novels!

Babs said...

Donna, it WAS a dream vacation as I sat by the ocean or laid in bed looking out the big windows seeing the fishermen and big waves.

Shadow of the Wind, for me, was like reading a symphony........so beautiful.

Steve Cotton said...

You are correct -- the Kindle has to be one of the country's great inventions.

Retired Teacher said...

On your list I noticed "Aztec" by Colin Falconer. Interesting. One of my favorite historical novels is "Aztec" by Gary Jennings. Obviously they are 2 different novels. I will have to look for Falconer's book. The Jennings novel is a big fat book that is quite racy in parts, but his historical research and his descriptions of the Aztec civilization are amazing.

Dana Hill said...

Hi Babs - I've just finished reading John Adams (our 2nd U.S. President) and The Wright Brothers, both by David McCullough. Both were terrific, especially the John Adams, whom I knew very little about! The book really put me right in the time (late 1700s), always an eye-opener just when you think your own time couldn't be wackier. I've just started A Morbid Taste for Bones (great title) by Ellis Peters, and am enjoying it so far. I agree about the Kindle - it sure makes things easy!

Babs said...

Thanks Dana for commenting. Haven't seen you for a while! Yes, I want to read the book on Adams........What the heck is a book with a title called "A Morbid Taste for Bones" about.........a culinary treasure? ha.

Babs said...

Bill, I read every Gary Jennings book........found all exceedingly interesting. I think he has passed on, if I'm not mistaken.
The one by Falconer was fascinating as well. It had more
about Mexico City and the eastern part of Mexico as it
related to the wars, etc.

Babs said...

Steve, you and I agree on the joy of the Kindle. Today I was meeting some friends
for lunch. I'm ALWAYS ALWAYS early, so I threw the Kindle in my bolsa and took it with me. I had 30 minutes of reading time.......how sweet it is!

Dana Hill said...

A Morbid Taste for Bones is about a 12th century monk on a quest for the bones of St. Winifred. It's quite entertaining. I'm definitely going to check out the list on your post - some I've read and quite a few I haven't. More good reading ahead!

Babs said...

Thanks for the follow-up comment Dana. Sounds quite interesting. I'll check it out.

Unknown said...

My recommendations are The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. A thin, sparse book about how a Pakistan young man of privilege ends up a terrorist. Also recommend the graphic (comic) novel by Roz Chast, Can We Talk about Something more Pleasant. (Not suitable for kiddle - print too small) Ms Chast in comic book form recounts the horror and humor of caring for very aged parents. Parents, by the way, used to visit SMA. Funny, grim, honest. I also like the book of essays by William Styron called My Generation.

Babs said...

Thanks so much J Duffy for taking time to send suggestions! What a wonderful treasure trove of suggestions there has been. Yours included.

Unknown said...

You are welcome. My name is Jean and I have followed you for years. For 30 years or so, I was in SMA at least a few months each year. Then, full time work intruded. Always intended to come back to stay. Still pondering that move. But surely found my "tribe" in that gorgeous town full of interesting and stimulating people. Thanks for your blog! Hope you stay with it.

Babs said...

Jean, thanks. Your life sounds interesting! I started coming to Mexico on business in 1974, but didn't make it to San Miguel til 1998 or 1999.

It is the easiest, most enjoyable place meet people and have whatever kind of life that you want.

I was telling someone yesterday morning that the contentment that I feel here is unlike anything I ever experienced before.

Come back sometime soon! Let me know if you do. We'll meet for coffee or something in the jardin........

Unknown said...

Just getting settled at home after 2 wonderful weeks in San Miguel. When I first read this, Two books came to mind, and though I've read many books in my time, I think I'll just go with these.

One of my all time favorite books is "Stones for Ibarra" by Harriet Doerr. She was 74 years old when she wrote this in 1984. Two others followed, which I also enjoyed, but neither had the impact on me that the first one had. It is set in Mexico, and though I have spent very little time there, it seems to ring true. She did spend many years living in Mexico, and it appears to be somewhat autobiographical. I love a writer that respects and trusts her readers to soak up the subtleties of people and place. It is a beautifully and simply told story, but at the same time full of complexities.

The 2nd is Australian writer Robyn Davidson's "Desert Places" about her time spent with the nomadic Rabari people in India. I was recovering from skin cancer and reconstructive surgery to my nose, and couldn't wear my glasses for a week or so. I was in pain, badly bruised and stitched up, and feeling quite vulnerable. Reading was about all I could manage for a week or so, and this book put my circumstances into sharp perspective. I am in awe (constantly) of the hardships that so many people on this planet suffer, and the grace and dignity which so many of them live their lives. I also appreciate the efforts made by people such as Robyn Davidson to bring us their stories.

Thanks for calling up these memories, Barbara!
Linda Wilde

Babs said...

Hi Linda - I remember Stones for Ibarra as well. I read it a long time ago, but it stuck with me and her writing was a delight.

I'll look for Desert Places! You hit the nail on the head. I think, living in Mexico, has kept me from ever thinking my travails are not insurmountable! All I have to do is walk down the street and see people with real issues to remind myself how blessed and lucky I am.

Look forward to hearing from you when you head back to San Miguel next year, or sooner.