My Spring Break Reads / by Madeleine

Since beginning my full-time semester of student teaching, my reading habits have changed pretty significantly. I have less time to read (and sometimes feel guilty when I prioritize reading over schoolwork or planning), so I've developed a more selective attitude towards books. I want my reading time to be spent with quality stories, so I've become more particular in my picks and quicker to abandon a book when it's not working for me.

Over the course of my spring break vacation I finally had the chance for some completely uninterrupted reading. We went down to St. Simons Island in Georgia for a full five days of sun, sand, and salt water (all of my favorite things). If you're looking for a relaxing vacation in a gorgeous setting, I highly recommend the island! 

I mentioned on 

Instagram that I had been saving Anthony Doerr's Pultizer Prize-Winning All the Light We Cannot See for this particular trip, and I am so glad that I did. I had heard (from just about everyone who's read it) that it was a favorite, so I wanted to be able to fully immerse myself in the setting. I spent two days parked in a beach chair while I sped through the book, and rather than reviewing the book, I'm going to just chime in with every other reader and insist that you put it on your list. Not only was the story captivating and heartbreaking (everything that you want in a WWII novel), it was also just so beautifully written. I stopped countless times to reread sentences and just appreciate the way that Doerr put them together. This book was a definite 5-stars, and you can count on seeing it on my Top Ten list for this year.

After I completed All the Light We Cannot See, I wanted to move on to another book but found myself hesitant to pick one because, well, not much is going to measure up to that. My mom had brought along The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins for her beach read, so the day after I finished All the Light I borrowed it from her. I read it in an afternoon and thought it was an excellent thriller. I guessed the wrong culprit (more than once) and felt that the ending was just superb. The suspense was high and I got so involved in the book that I wound up getting a pretty bad sunburn from failing to move for the entire 5 hours that it took me to read (Oops!) but it was worth it. I definitely recommend it for a vacation read (and I really liked the juxtaposition of the very serious All the Light with the suspense of The Girl on the Train -- they turned out to be an excellent pair). 

Because I've had a habit of reading each night before bed for, well, my entire life, I brought along my Kindle as well (tip for traveling with others -- Kindles are great for night-time because you can use the backlight to read while your travel buddies sleep peacefully in the dark!). So while I was reading more modern and popular books during the day, I was spending nights with Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. I haven't finished it yet, but I do love the story so far (and found myself chatting about what a scoundrel a certain character is to my mom) and I'm going to continue reading it now that I'm home. I love that feeling of checking off a highly-anticipated book from my to-read list, and this vacation allowed me to do that more than once. Plus, having no agenda was probably the nicest feeling in the world. I feel totally refreshed and ready to hit the ground running -- and with only three weeks until graduation and eight more weeks of school, that marathon feeling is exactly what I'm expecting. Here's to a busy spring!

Happy Reading!

-Madeleine-