The Kindles are in the mail

On vacation, I’m a Doer. I want to eat and see and do everything I can. Mrs. SMEs, on the other hand, is a Relaxer. I discovered this on our honeymoon in Napa and Sonoma. She wanted to sit at a spa and I wanted to hit every damn winery in California. Still, we compromise pretty well and I’ve been known to sit still on vacation for an hour or two at a time, reading.

Then we got our Thailand itinerary.

It’s chock full of down time, plane time, train time, beach time and, simply, time time (13 days, including six on beaches). We’re going to bounce around constantly so I’m not going to be bored and she’s going to get to to read on the beach. Compromise! But that’s still a lot of reading time. And while I’m looking forward to finally finishing Anna Karenina, I don’t really want to lug it and three other books around Southeast Asia. The answer, clearly, is Kindle, with it’s amazing worldwide instant book-download coverage and $189 price. So we bought two.

Now the real question: What the heck do I put on the thing?

Please don’t say Franzen’s new novel. I made it halfway through one CD of The Corrections on my morning commute and found myself longing to steer into a bridge embankment. Not my style.

As for styles I do like, it’s mostly history, historical fiction, non-D&D-type sci-fi, food writing. Not much fiction. I kept trying to think of fiction I’ve read and liked and it all qualifies as historial or a close relative (The Kite Runner or Memoirs of Hadrian). Oddly enough – or maybe not, who the hell knows – I’ve enjoyed the Russian lit I’ve given a try. So, anyone have a recommendation for this genre-confused reader?


Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

11 thoughts

  1. hmmm…based on your preferences, have you read any Caleb Carr? He is a historian, but some of his best work is historical murder mysteries, the best being “The Alienist” and it’s sequel “The Angel of Darkness”

    As far as food writing, have you read any Jay McInerney’s wine writing? Obviously he is best well known for cocaine fueled novels of pretty young things in the 80’s, but he is a huge wine guy. “A Hedonist in the Cellar” is a great read.

    Are you sure you don’t need a personal assistant or anything on this trip, because I could clear my schedule, no problem 😉

  2. Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” probably qualifies as an historical fiction/western. It’s pretty dark (much darker than “The Road”, which wasn’t exactly uplifting), but I liked it overall.

    I highly recommend Calvin Trillin for food writing. It may even give you a better appreciation of KC’s historical food scene. The best of his “tummy trilogy” in my opinion is “Alice, Let’s Eat”. His books of reportage are excellent (both “American Stories” and “Killings” – a couple of pieces overlap between the two), but I doubt that of either of those has been or will be published on the Kindle.

    I’ve really enjoyed Studs Terkel’s collected oral histories. My favorite so far has been “Hard Times”, which covers the Great Depression. He gets criticized for his lefty views (or, rather, highlighting the lefty views of others), but his books are a fascinating look at the time period in question, such as the Depression or WWII, and also the time period in which the interviews took place (the turbulent 60’s).

    Finally, David Benioff’s “City of Thieves” is an enjoyable work of historical fiction, and I highly recommend it.

  3. Some very promising recommendations here guys and gal…thanks. I enjoyed – if “enjoyed” is the right word – “The Road.” So the McCarthy rec makes sense. I’ll look up the others too. Thanks.

    And Pam, yes, a personal assistant would be great. How’s your Thai?

  4. Check out my collection (willettjf) on the DBRL catalog site. There are some good ones on there.

    Just finished the Stieg Larsson trilogy; those are fast reading. Right now I’m reading “In the Woods” by Tana French, and it’s very good (half way through.)


  5. My wife has loved the Larsson books so far. And the movie version of “Dragon Tattoo” was excellent. I’ll check out DBRL and Tana French. Thanks.

  6. – Kermit Lynch “Adventures on the Wine Route”
    -Travels with Thai Food: A Journey with Spirit House Helen Brierty, Annette Fear (haven’t read this one, but you’re going to Thailand for heaven’s sake)
    – Island Beneath the Sea, Isabel Allende

  7. According to google translate, I could say, “K̄hx beīyr̒ xīk d̂wy”
    for you…a lot

    (another beer please)

    City of Thieves is a great book, definitely check it out!

  8. Scott,

    You might check out the novel, “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. It’s definitely historical, although recent history. I’m on my second Kindle. Gifted the old one to my mom.

    If this doesn’t fit your tastes, I recommend it for your wife!


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