My college English teacher Mrs. Samuels told us over thirty years ago about a habit she started several years prior to that time. The habit was saving books over several months for the express purpose of having something good to read while on summer vacation.
During our child raising years, I was lucky if I got through one or two books during a summer vacation. So I put that habit on hold, until the past two years. Since that time, I start stashing anywhere from four to ten books that I'd like to read while on a summer vacation.
Last year, we vacationed at a cottage in Bass Lake up in the Sierras. My stash of books included a holiday novel, an autobiography by Dr. Phil's wife, and a Robert B. Parker cowboy adventure.
None of the books I took with me on vacation ranked high on a "recommended" list, but they did entertain for the summer hours spent sitting outside in the cool air of the Sierras.
This year, I started my vacation book stash shortly after the beginning of the year. I took a book about outstanding women written by ABC News reporter Cokie Roberts, a book on fatherhood from Fox News morning anchor Steve Doocey, a mystery novel, and a personal story about a man's effort to overcome the effects of a stoke.
It was an eclectic mix of books. It did make the vacation pass by fast.
Reading is a wonderful past time for me. I was read to by my Mom at a very early age. Teachers in those critical early elementary years helped nurture my love of books by reading to our classes all the time.
The teen and college years found my reading concentrated primarily on assignments for classes. Then came the family years when any spare time was quickly taken by demands of raising children, maintaining a house, and nurturing my professional career.
One of the many benefits I've enjoyed in these years since my children have left the roost is the time to settle down with a good book. I started keeping track of the books I've read in the past few years.
Over twenty books in 2009, sixty in 2010, and forty so far as we cross the halfway point of 2011.
I may not have liked each book, but I have certainly enjoyed the gift of having time to read.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced