One of the most satisfying aspects of our Senior Nomads lifestyle is the abundance of time we have to read. I would even say it is our main activity outside of exploring our surroundings, and certainly the primary use of our Kindles and iPads. From news sites like NEWS360 and The New York Times, to interesting blogs and The New Yorker (which can take days to get through) to a steady stream of free e-books from The Seattle Public Library (amazing!) we have a never-ending supply of material.
Weight restrictions, lack of space and our budget keep us from traveling with good old- fashioned paper books. So, when we arrive at an Airbnb that has intriguing titles on the shelves we divert from our current reads and curl up on the couch or snuggle down under the glow of bedside lamps and enjoy turning actual pages.
Personally, I’m always happy to find a few cookbooks on the shelf and take pictures of recipes that help me cook locally. Over the holidays, I raced through the first three volumes of Harry Potter to fulfill a promise I made to our 12-year Granddaughter Lucy. I committed to being able to carry on a reasonable conversation about the inhabitants of Hogwarts, the game of Quidditch, and a creature named Dobby before we arrived in Los Angeles in early January.
Another benefit of endless reading time is that you can approach a book with a “love it or leave it!” attitude. Both our mothers were avid readers and instilled in us the firm belief that you don’t have to finish a book you are not enjoying (unless it was for school, of course), so just pick up another one and keep reading.
One more plug for free downloads from your local library - eventually the best sellers arrive like a gift in your inbox. Meanwhile, you can plow through lots of other books you’ve always meant to read that you can download instantly while you wait for a best seller on your list.
There have been duds along the way this year, but also some really good reads. Speaking of which - Michael and I should be spokespersons for the Goodreads app. We love the way it keeps track of what we've read as well as excellent reviews of books we are considering. And if you’re feeling social, you can share with others what you’ve read and get their personal recommendations.
In order to post this blog without too much fuss, I asked Michael to jot down his most memorable books from this past year, and I did the same. So, in no particular order, here are some of our favorites books from 2017.
The History of Love - Nicole Krauss
A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Born a Crime - Trevor Noah
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
I am Malala by Mlala Yousafzai
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer
La’s Orchestra - Alexander McCall Smith
Our perennial favorite to read to our younger grandchildren:
A visitor for Bear by Bonnie Becker
Last week, as we were packing-up in Seattle ready to hit the road again, we had to set paper books aside as we made the many little decisions about what to take with us in 2018. It’s always a stressful exercise no matter how many times we’ve done it - and even though we are getting better at it, packing for months of travel will always be a work in progress.
We made it to Los Angeles where I answered Harry Potter trivia questions faster than Nimbus 2000 with Lucy. We’ve also connected with 10-year-old grandson Spencer on Words with Friends.
We're now back in Europe after a long and delayed flight on Norwegian Air to Paris. We check into our 162nd Airbnb in the tiny village of Samois-sur-Siene near Fontainebleau where we will spend two weeks visiting daughter Mary and her family. From here, we head "Down Under" to explore New Zealand, Australia and parts unknown in 2018.
We look forward to sharing our journey with you and thank you for following along.
Happy New Year!
Debbie and Michael Campbell
The Senior Nomads