It’s spring break! And a badly-needed break as well. My husband and I have been working really hard all semester and while we can’t actually use spring break as a vacation, it will allow us some time to tackle final papers, reconnect a bit, and recharge. I intend to try a few local coffee shops and bakeries that I haven’t yet gotten to.
And quite wonderfully, I did get out of town for the beginning of break. I sing in a women’s barbershop quartet, and after we won our international championship a few years ago, we began being hired to sing shows around the US and Canada. I just got back from a trip with my quartet out to Chicago, where we sang a show with our dear friends from the chorus there. It was a lovely trip, and very nice to get away, but I also learned a valuable and unexpected lesson: always bring enough reading material! I don’t think I’ve ever run out of books before! But I only brought two, and one (Margaret Powell’s memoir Below Stairs, part of my Downton Abbey-themed reading project) was a much quicker read than I expected, so that plus an extra four hours or so in airports meant that when I landed in Chicago, I only had about seven pages left in my second book. Thank goodness it held out that long!
I hope I didn’t irritate my quartet when I insisted that, on the way to one of our events, we stop at a bookstore. I haven’t bought a new book in several years, but I needed something for the trip home, so I was happy when we found a Barnes and Noble, and delighted to find a Signet classic edition of George Eliot’s Silas Marner. I like Signets because they’re small and cheap, and usually have decent introductions (if somewhat short for my taste). They don’t have quite so much aesthetic appeal as Penguins or Everymans, but when it comes to value at a bookstore that sells new rather than used books, you can’t beat Signets and they’re my first choice every time.
So the lesson here is to always bring more books than you think you need! I’m usually so good at estimating, but Mary Webb’s Precious Bane had been rather slow going that I thought it would easily last. Turns out, it’s only slow if all of your reading time is in short little chunks. With a sustained couple of hours, I sank right into it and flew along.
Plus now I’m several chapters into my first George Eliot novel (I own Middlemarch and The Mill on the Floss but haven’t gotten to them yet) and am loving it. So far it reads like a cross between Les Miserables and, curiously enough, Webb’s Precious Bane (goodness, even the cover looks like Valjean and Cosette, doesn't it?)