Vacation snapshots

beachBack from another grand adventure — this time to North Carolina! I stay at a beach house with my extended family each summer, and we always have fun riding the waves, reading, eating out, chatting and generally lounging about in the sunshine. It wasn’t quite as warm this year as it has been in years past — it was a record 100 degrees in N.C. this time last year! — but that didn’t bother me so much. That just meant I was sweating less which, let’s face it, is a good thing!

One outstanding moment of this year’s trip? I went boogie-boarding for the first time with my sister and cousin! My idea of “spending time on the shore” usually includes me with a book in hand, dipping my toes in the water and dodging an errant wave that dares to actually get my bathing suit wet. But this year, at my uncle’s urging, I actually submerged myself in the water (after getting my book to safety first, of course!) and had a lot of fun “swimming” around (read: kicking my feet on the sandy bottom and using the board as leverage). I don’t have any photographic evidence of this activity, but my mom — an outstanding photographer — got snapshots of that and other adventures, including one to prove just how far my nose was in Megan McCafferty’s Fourth Comings!

I managed to only finish one book while I was away: Hyatt Bass’s The Embers. Ironically, this was the only book I didn’t mention on my beach reads post! It was a review copy I was struggling to finish, and I tossed it in my bag at the last minute. I figured I give it my undivided attention while at the beach, a requirement for me to able to polish that one off. I was right — I found the book difficult to get through. My review will be posted tomorrow, which coincides with its publication date! I also worked my way through McCafferty’s novel and started Sarah Dessen’s Along For The Ride, which I’m enjoying so far! I didn’t get to the others, I’m sorry to say.

And now — the good stuff! Random vacation snapshots. All of my favorite photos can be found on my Flickr page.

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Beach reading

beach_feetFar more complicated, time-consuming and stressful than making sure I have the right clothes, shoes and sunscreen to take on vacation is deciding which books to take. My family vacations at the Outer Banks every summer — and every summer, I struggle with making sure I have the right novels to accompany me on my much-needed break!

Packing books for London last month was simple — in my “freetime,” I knew I wouldn’t really have my eyes open long enough to actually read anything. So I only brought a book, the I’d saved just for the plane ride to England: Megan McCafferty’s Charmed Thirds. And I picked up a few British books on my way home, of course, including Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!

But this time I don’t have to worry about the heft of my suitcase and whether or not I can pull it single-handedly up and off the Tube. Oh, no — Dad and I are traveling in the SUV with plenty of space for a ridiculous amount of books! And now I have to comb my TBR stack, near collapse, for the best few to bring.

footprints“Beach reads” are, by their nature, light, breezy and often funny novels that can be read and absorbed quickly while, say, sitting out in the blazing hot sunshine with the dull roar of waves crashing behind you. I happen to think it’s a little mean to narrowly classify books as “beach reads” — often meaning they’re a little silly, not really worth thinking about — but there are some books that are just such fun, it’s easy to label them in that category.

Last summer at the beach, I carried the entire Twilight series around with me! I finished Twilight on the car ride down, began New Moon within the first few days and had a hard time setting it down the whole time I was away. Wanting to pace myself a bit, I picked up Elin Hilderbrand’s A Summer Affair at the end of the week, and I definitely enjoyed that.

And now, standing on the precipice of a fresh new vacation and a new opportunity to read like I might never read again, I think I’ve narrowed this year’s selections down . . .

Meg’s Beach Books ’09

along_for_the_rideSarah Dessen’s Along For The Ride

I rushed out on my lunch break today to grab Dessen’s latest novel, which I eagerly blogged about last Wednesday. After I carefully remove the beautiful dust jacket, that baby will be ready to sail along with me! In fact, I’m pushing it up on the top of the stack — I just have to devour that one whole. I’ll break it out as soon as we’re on the road.

Megan McCafferty’s Fourth Comings

Much like my London adventure, I’ve been saving the fourth installment in McCafferty’s awesome Jessica Darling series for another grand occasion! And I think this is finally it. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Jessica and Marcus, although reading reviews for the last two books has spoiled (a bit of) the fun for me. That’s okay, though — I have to absorb all of it myself!

penny_pinchers

Sarah Strohmeyer’s The Penny Pinchers Club

Okay, this one is cheating a little bit — because I’ve already started it! But I’m almost finished and can’t bear to leave it behind. It’s a really light, funny story about a woman who believes her husband is planning on divorcing her after she spends 20 years working her way through their savings account with her out-of-control spending — and actually a cheeky look at what we think we “need” in our society, and why. With only 40 pages to go, I’m touting it along on the sand!

Meg Cabot’s Airhead

As one of Cabot’s devout followers, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t started this series yet! I purchased the first novel in anticipation of my last trip, but ultimately decided I wouldn’t have time to read it while away. I’m eager to start!

suite_scarlettMaureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett

Johnson is another author I thought I should have gotten to know a long time ago, but only recently read her European adventure novel 13 Little Blue Envelopes. While I felt that story was just a little too emotionally detached for my tastes, I appreciated the quality of Johnson’s writing and voice! I’m looking forward to reading this one, which seems to have been heralded all over the YA book world.

summer’s packing up her beach blanket, heading home

Rainy days at the office are pretty much the worst. I don’t even have to say that it’s nearly impossible to even get yourself out of bed in the morning to get to work — that’s understood. Dragging myself to my feet in the gray morning light, listening to silence as I stumble my way into the shower and manage to throw on some business clothes . . . then driving my Corolla over in the rain. Pulling my purse and tote bag and mug of tea to the door, then struggling to get my umbrella closed. Inevitably, this always results in my hitting myself in the face with a shower of water.

I wish I was back on the boardwalk in Rehoboth . . . We drove out there last Sunday and walked around in the sunshine, savoring the last few moments of summer. Now school’s back in session and, though school isn’t really on my mind at all anymore, it’s still the definitive marker of the end of one season and the beginning of another.

The beach was jammed on Sunday — everyone running around getting ice-cream, ducking in the little souvenior shops, loping along the boardwalk. Ever the photographer’s daughter, I took a lot of “scenic” shots. When we went to Europe last year, my sister and I kept joking that we weren’t going to have any pictures with people in them. I have a thousand historic buildings, beautiful gardens, gorgeous lakes . . . But few featuring my family and/or me. It’s all right, though. I love pretty things! Especially pretty pink things:

There won’t be many beautiful flowers for me to shoot anymore, though: summer’s almost over. Leaves are already scattered across many of the sidewalks in my neighborhood. And there’s definitely a sadness to watching the sun fade away. I do love the fall, though — there’s plenty to love. The crispness in the air; breaking out my slacks and boots; getting to pull my hoodies out of hiding. Though I guess I can’t don my typical fall “college” wear anymore: my jeans, University of Maryland hoodie and flip-flops. But the weekends are fair game!