When a semester ends – even before grades are finished and posted – I dive into reading books I’ve been hoarding. While I love to physically travel on a break, one can’t travel across the WHOLE break, so books became my in-chair vacations.
This week I found myself immersed in two books that can best be described as biographies of books as much as they are biographies of writers. I’m not even a huge fan of The Great Gatsby but I found myself fascinated by the idea that Maureen Corrigan based a whole book on “How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why it Endures.”
So for my first trip I visited 1920s New York and the life and (sad) times of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Again, not a fan of the actual Gatsby, but now a big fan of the book about the book. You can’t get much more meta than that.
I followed that up with Imani Perry’s Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry (author of the play A Raisin in the Sun).
There I visited 1950s Harlem to find her and her circle of Black poets and writers and activists who truly did change the country through pacifist protests – and art. While most people recognize Hansberry as the author of the play, many don’t know that she also wrote the screenplay for the film. That’s catalogued in yet another book that I had already read: A Raisin in the Sun: The Unfilmed Original Screenplay which has a forward by Spike Lee.
Hope you’re finding some fun books to tuck into over this holiday season. You’ve probably heard about the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod, which translates into “Christmas Book Flood.”
The tradition is to give or receive new books on Christmas Eve and then read them late into the night. I’ve always read before bed. It helps me fall asleep so I’m not sure I could read all night long – but I’m more than happy to read all DAY long. THAT’s what I call a vacation.