One of the principal joys of vacation for me is time for reading, even in the midst of lots of outdoor activity.
I didn’t keep a systematic list, but my favorite discovery of the last two weeks was the first of Boris Akunin’s Erast Fandorin mysteries, The Winter Queen. It’s almost like finding a new nineteenth century Russian novelist, except the youthful Akunin is apparently still writing new Fandorin books. I read The Winter Queen just after finishing Alan Furst’s The Foreign Correspondent. It’s a wonderful evocation of the conspiracy-ridden world of Italian anti-fascists in Paris on the eve of World War Two.
The other great joy was reading The Princess Bride, following numerous references by Brad DeLong. If William Goldman’s introduction is to be believed, I’m the first person to read the book who had not seen the film. That, too, has now been remedied. I’ll try to not let “Inconceivable!” and “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” creep into my writing too much.
The one definite miss of my vacation was a renewed attempt to find out what many people I respect find in PG Wodehouse. Too relentlessly clever and arch for me. I still don’t get it.