My son and I are spending the week at the beach with a large contingent of my dad's side of the family. I've spent 1-2 weeks each summer on a North Carolina beach for as long as I can remember. While I am a real lover of the ocean's edge of the world beauty, I also associate the beach with major jags of reading.
My husband likes to joke to our friends about Campbell family beach trips; they are typified by the following.
1. a bunch of people in a room together (or on the beach)
2. no talking
3. everyone's head in a book
4. complete satisfaction, relaxation and delight
I remember the summer I read Middlemarch on the beach; no doubt that volume still has sand buried in its spine. I also recall the summer I frequented our dock in my swimming suit--flipping repeatedly from my back to my stomach while making my way through the heady and wonderful world of Annie Dillard; I'd picked up a three book volume including Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. There was the summer of Anna Karenina, the summer of Watership Down, my Madame Bovary week, and a continuation of my George Eliot love affair with The Mill on the Floss. I recall each of these books vividly, but I also recall the inimitable conjunction of saltwater and sand, beloved family, invented worlds inhabited deeply and intensely amidst a landscape so able to loose one's thoughts extravagantly.
This year I'm reading The Inheritance of Loss, and here's an excerpt from the book which got me thinking through the kind reading I do when I'm at the ocean:
"She was beginning to read, faster, more, until she was inside the narrative and the narrative inside her, the pages going by so fast, her heart in her chest--she couldn't stop."
For some more on the book, go here-- to one of my favorite blogs about art and life and living and reading and writing.