vacation books

December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Life has been like a whisper lately. A slow whisper, which is sort of funny to imagine; whispering slowly.


But really, I can’t think of any other way to describe it. I feel like I’ve been walking on my tip toes, trying to be quiet, slowly. Floating a little, maybe. Watchful. Aware. Careful.

It’s good. (Even though my toes would hurt if I were actually doing this, which I’m not. It’s just a metaphor. Sort of.)

The holidays bring this hush, even in the midst of all the parties and plates of cookies and opening and giving and receiving and and and…

In the moments when we are home, which is as much as possible in the midst of it all, we’re wrapped up in blankets and movies and each other. That’s not to say we aren’t arguing and fussing and sighing like normal humans, but there’s so much peace in vacations from work and school. Like the whole world just held its breath at once, even though in reality life outside of our bubble is still buzzing and spinning so fast.

I made a conscious decision to log off during this time. I haven’t opened my computer much and when I have, I wrote something that needed writing and then moved on. No Facebook or Twitter or Pinning or or or…

Until yesterday, I went days without logging in or updating or scrolling. I’ve been reading a book, a really thick one. I’ve been watching old movies on TV, closing my eyes during commercial breaks and dozing off a little. We’ve baked and baked and played games and drawn pictures. I drew a pretty fantastic hippo yesterday, for the record.

These are things we do normally, but we’ve just been doing them more. And for the first time in a long time, more has been so good. More quiet. More slowly. More turning of pages. More deep breaths.

It makes me hungry for more. More of less.

A long time ago, I posted a picture of a cabin on a lake and said that I imagine going away to a secluded place like that sometimes. I said I would bring some books and a notebook or two and my laptop to that quiet place on the water. Now I think I would only bring the books and notebooks. And some people, just a few.  We would all bring our stack of books and our paper and pens. We’d sit together over meals and talk about things that matter. Then we’d retreat to our own spaces for more reading and writing in the quiet, a view of the lake or a forest through the windows. We’d leave the dishes for later and go for walks in the early morning sun. Then we’d come back and take naps and read some more.

I want to go on these trips. Loads of them. I want to go on so many of them that I finally get through all the books I’ve been wanting to read or re-read. I think I’d start with these:

Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God :: The Sacred Journey by Buechner :: UnDrunk by A.J. Adams :: Ketchup is a Vegetable and other lies moms tell themselves by my friend, Robin O’Bryant :: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by Wrobleski

All of those and Anne Lamott’s new book, which I need to pick up; Help, Thanks, Wow — I can’t wait to read it.

We could stay for four or five days. No TV. No computer. No to-do lists. Just stacks of books and those pens and pages and good food. Never forget the good food.

Then six months or a year later, we could do it again, with a different stack of books.

What books would you bring the first time? 



kendal December 31, 2012 at 9:28 am

oh, edgar sawtelle – have you started it? it was a favorite until i got to the end….beware? and anne lamott’s new one is on my to-read list, for sure. i’m reading memoirs, mostly. the boy kings of texas right now. which is an awesome story, but you have to be able to stomach some bad language….
kendal recently my right-now best friend, anxiety

Heather December 31, 2012 at 9:54 am

I have only about 50 pages left and I’ve heard about the ending (BUH) but I MUST keep reading it, I love it so much despite how I’m going to feel sick and sad when I get to the end.

And stomaching bad language is totally possible for me. I effing love it. ;)

rebecca @ altared spaces December 31, 2012 at 9:39 am

Love your book choices. I’m just linking up now and then your lovely words will be up on my site. Thank you for the offering.

If ever you want to truly get away… it’s gorgeous at my house in Colorado. The “guest room” is purple and orange. So soothing. Private and waiting for you to read your books. Truly.
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Heather December 31, 2012 at 9:54 am

Oh, it sounds so lovely. Colorado is gorgeous, and time with you (when I came out of my hibernation) would be so great.


Erin December 31, 2012 at 9:50 am

This is beyond lovely and yes, so so perfect. Even though my book retreat was forced by a massive bout of sickness, there was still something good as I swung into the tail end of it. It was quiet and peaceful and I found myself wishing that I was doing it just because and I think I will keep doing it.
Erin recently posted..These Days

Heather December 31, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thank you, lady. And I know what you mean by that forced retreat thing. It’s awful and then looking back there’s something so reassuring about it. Part of that for me is that it does shut everything else down and I know for sure just exactly what I need to be doing. You know, cleaning up puke and making little people feel better. Purpose, I suppose…and then the quiet. I love the quiet after the sick.

Now tell me what books you would bring!

Erin December 31, 2012 at 11:27 am

In the spirit of this post, I would bring The End of Your Life Book Club, which everyone should definitely read, anyway.
Erin recently posted..These Days

Kirsten December 31, 2012 at 10:03 am

I did this. Went away with a group of complete strangers actually (or almost-strangers, anyway) and just took a stack of books and journals. It was…transformational. I highly recommend Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. Just such beautiful, lyrical writing.

Nita December 31, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I have a place like that…and that is exactly what we do there. We just spent four nights and I read an entire book cover to cover, knitted a pair of slippers, did some hand quilting, took naps, enjoyed looking out the window at the frozen lake, felt peaceful in the yellow glow of the propane lights.

Nora December 31, 2012 at 1:11 pm

On the top of my to-read list is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I’ve heard such good things! And to re-read… Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I think I could re-read it a thousand times and learn something new each time.
Nora recently posted..2012 In Review: Our Favorite Adventures

Florinda December 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I take books any time I travel anywhere, but the trip you’re talking about sounds absolutely perfect. I’m not sure what books I’d bring, though–the books I’d list right now might not be the ones I’d end up with at the time. However, since my “official” to-read collection on LibraryThing exceeds 400 books, I’m sure I’d come up with a few…

Kerstin December 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I have fallen in love with Cheryl Strayed and her writing in 2012.
Loved her book “Wild” and then read “Tiny Beautiful Things”, a compilation of her advice columns as “Dear Sugar”.
A cabin in the woods or by the lake sounds lovely!
Happy New Year to you and your family.
Kerstin recently posted..2012 in tweets

Kim Gane January 1, 2013 at 1:38 am

Beautifully written, as always, and sounds like perfection, Heather!

Sarah January 1, 2013 at 2:38 am

A cabin anywhere without a laptop or Wifi sounds wonderful. I’d definitely pack some wonderful knitting fun alongside a stack of books. Lately I’m finding how much I love re-reading books from past assignments whether in HS or College i am amazed how much my view changes from one reading to the next, how certain characters spoke to me at one age and another later. So, books like the Great Gatsby, Scarlett Letter, Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, all of Hemingways books…so many treasures that I just didn’t get the first round. And I have a love now for random biographies, just finding tidbits of others out there feels like my world is expanding when it is so hard to truly get past my family :) Oh, a trip to a quiet lake sounds like more than a dream indeed!
Sarah recently posted..The Spirit of Christmas

Kate January 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I’ve got the quiet cabin on a twinkling lake, full of peace and serenity with a screen porch for the buggy nights and a wide deck with a glider that faces the water for the early mornings, coffee, chats and just staring off across the water. And there is space. For writing, napping and just being. The place brings out those conversations we all crave, or induces silence to ponder the moments, delve in to the books and listen to the hush.

Let’s pick our people and figure out a time to go. What do you say?? Think it would be fun?
Kate recently posted..merry christmas to all…..

Roshni January 1, 2013 at 7:33 pm

So in love with your idea!! I would love to be with books and books all the time, and all the time in the world to read them!
Roshni recently posted..Winter vacation 2012

Handsfull January 1, 2013 at 10:45 pm

I got to do that last year! Well, kind of… My lovely husband gifted me with 36hrs off from mothering my 4 littles, and I took a pile of books to a monastery guesthouse 10mins up the road from my house. It was a beautiful space, with lots of interesting people also staying there, and for the first hour or so I just sat in my room and looked at the tidyness (that I hadn’t had to make) and the sun streaming in the window… and just smiled. And sighed. For an hour.
I never did get to read the books I’d brought with me, but I read 2 books that I discovered in the monastery library, ate wonderful food that I didn’t have to cook, did some cross-stitch that’s been waiting for me for 8yrs, and enjoyed the silence and peace enormously.
I’ll have to see if I can do it again this year, for longer :)
My recommendation is Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. I finally got to read this book last year, and it is now full of underlinings and markers! It’s the kind of book that you can’t read for hour after hour, because you have to keep putting it down to digest the amazing stuff you’ve just read.

Kim January 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Oh gosh, can we do this? Please?
I would read classics that I have never read before – Pride & Prejudice and To Kill a Mockingbird (I know!). I also just ordered “To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson” – he is the Prophet for our church, so I would bring that. I can’t wait to dig into it. Jeremy also just got me the book “Strengths Finder”, so I would bring that too.

Oh so many good books, not enough time.
Kim recently posted..New Year, New Me

Stephanie Precourt January 5, 2013 at 7:58 am

The house we are thinking about buying is one that I keep imagining is my “reading house” where I’ll just read all the books I’ve always wanted to read. I put off reading most of last year until I picked up To Kill A Mockingbird in the summer and it kick started the hunger to devour all the books. I am reading The Handmaid’s Tale right now (and it’s so interesting!!!!!) and have a few more piling up. I like a variety and finally got out of my memoirs-only rut. But I do want to read Wild by Cheryl Strayed next.

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Baby by the Sea January 7, 2013 at 1:34 am

No questions, I’d hop back into Salinger. It’s been too long since I first fell head over heels.
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