Friday, June 4, 2010

The Allure of a Good Book

by D'Ann Mateer

I confess, I don’t have as many vacation memories from vacations with my own children as I do vacations as a child. Maybe that’s because as the mom I’m responsible for so much to make a vacation happen that I don’t always retain the memories. But of all the vacations we took through my growing up years, there is one vacation memory that has become almost legend in my family.

Just before I entered 11th grade, we took a driving vacation to California. From Texas. In the dead of summer. The drive was brutal. I can remember traveling through one of the desert states, stopping at a fast food restaurant, and leaving our van locked and running while we went in and ate lunch. Otherwise, it would have taken hours for the AC to kick in again!

On our way to Los Angeles, we took a side trip to the Grand Canyon. My mother, especially, seemed excited for my brother and sisters and I to see it. When we arrived at the rim, everyone tumbled out of the car. Everyone except me. I remained curled in the back seat, my nose in a book.

You see, at the moment we reached the Grand Canyon, I was thoroughly immersed in the world of Wuthering Heights. I couldn’t tear myself away! Finally my parents ordered me out of the van. I would see this natural wonder, they would make sure of that. I unfolded my lanky body from the seat, book still in hand, finger marking my place, and blinked into the blinding sun. My head roved from side to side.

“It looks just like the pictures,” I said with a shrug of the shoulders before climbing back in the van and rejoining Heathcliff and Catherine. My parents were aghast, but can I help it if great literature enthralled me more than a big hole in the ground? I felt quite vindicated a few days later on our Universal Studios tour when our tram passed through a mural of the Grand Canyon. “See?” I said smugly. “It looked just like the pictures.”

Maybe that’s the reason a good vacation is synonymous with a good book in my mind.

Is there a book that dredges up vacation memories—good or bad—for you? Do you prefer to read on vacation or to “do” things?

Grand Canyon photo courtesy of


  1. A few years ago two friends and I flew to AZ to visit a third friend. We toured around and hit the Grand Canyon. Not my first time but it was for a friend. Problem is she was reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and she had a similar problem. We could hardly get her head up from the page to look!

    I think I start every book hoping to find that sort of escape again. One of the reasons I like flying is that I look forward to hours of uninterrupted reading!

    Great story D'ann!

  2. My parents took us on a wee-long houseboat trip on Cumberland lake. We went later in the season and the leaves were just starting to turn. Too cold to swim. We did some hiking, but mostly I holed up and read and read and read. Actually I wasn't so much on a houseboat as traveling all over the world and all through time! Wonderful memories.

  3. Thanks, Deb, for letting me know I'm not the only one who missed the Grand Canyon due to a good book! Whew!

    Lisa, a houseboat vacation sounds perfect for reading! What a great memory!

  4. My sister and I booked a tiny cabin at a lake one year for holidays (when we were younger and single). It rained much of the time we were there. We had each brought an armload of books so, although we had hoped for some outdoor activity, we enjoyed the time reading too!

    Elaine King

  5. I do a lot of reading, but come on D'Ann, I've yet to meet the book the rivaled the Grand Canyon :) Books definitely give me something to do in Lebanon when everyone around me is speaking Arabic.

  6. LOL. Most of my vacations have been colored by whatever I was reading at the time! I picked up "The Handmaid's Tale" for my honeymoon flight to Mexico. Maybe not the best choice for a honeymoon. : )

  7. I love reading while it's raining outside, Elaine! So your cabin vacation sounds like it was fabulous!

    Yes, Dina. I was young. Now I would probably find the Grand Canyon more riveting. But I'm also past the point of experiencing some of the greatest literature for the first time, too. So that would help! :)

    The Handmaid's Tale on your honeymoon? Yeah, probably not a good choice, Niki! LOL!


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