Walks and books

Well, there’s nothing like a flattering mention by a favorite blogger to motivate one to write … so let’s see, what have I been doing?  Not nearly as much reading as I’d like, but life has been full of other good things instead, such as getting to climb mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire, including a climb up Mt. Washington, home of the world’s worst weather.  Fortunately for Hobgoblin, Muttboy, and I, we didn’t actually encounter the world’s worst weather and had, instead, a gorgeous, clear, dry day to hike.  Still, while it was in the 70s at the base of the mountain, by the time we reached the top, the temperature had plummeted to the 40s and my extra sweater didn’t do much to keep me warm.

What a lovely hike that was, well worth the days of sore muscles I experienced afterwards.  All my illusions that my cycling and running would make climbing mountains any easier were shattered — Hobgoblin and I hobbled around like we were 95 years old for three or four days afterward.  Well, we did managed to loosen up our aching muscles enough to climb some smaller Vermont mountains, but once we’d sat around for a while after the climbs, we could barely get up again.  Yes, a little training would have been a good idea.

We also had a grand time not camping.  We enjoyed every one of the many restaurants we visited, every moment in our comfortable bed and shower, every chance to lounge around on the sofa, every stroll around a cute Vermont town.  I do love camping and backpacking, I do, but sometimes it’s nice not to do it.

And, of course, I came home with more books than I left with.  We spent some time in Hanover, New Hampshire, which has two excellent bookstores (at least), one of which is the Dartmouth College bookstore — one of those Barnes and Noble college stores, but one well worth getting lost in.  The other was a used bookstore just up the street from the first.  After a long time spent in both stores, I walked away with John Mullan’s How Novels Work, which I have begun and am enjoying; it’s a good introduction to the technical aspects of fiction.  Also Charles Lamb’s The Essays of Elia to add to my essay collection, Elizabeth Phelps’s The Story of Avis, a 19C American novel, and Lady Morgan’s The Wild Irish Girl, originally published in 1806.

There was also an awesome used bookstore in Woodstock, Vermont, where I spent at least an hour combing through the shelves; I brought home a collection of D.H. Lawrence’s literary criticism.

Since I’ve returned home a few more books have arrived through Book Mooch: Theodore Zeldin’s An Intimate History of Humanity, Jenny Diski’s Stranger on a Train, and Anne Fadiman’s At Large and at Small.  The book piles threaten to get out of control: there are two local libraries having their book sales soon, at which point I’ll probably be drowning in books.

I did finish one book on the trip, A.J.A. Symons’s The Quest for Corvo, which I hope to write about soon.


Filed under Books

13 responses to “Walks and books

  1. Charles Lamb’s essays play a unique role in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book that I just finished (and loved!). I’ll now have to seek out some of these essays. I’m sure you’ve probably heard about the Guernsey book. Everyone I know has really enjoyed it. You may want to check it out. I’d be interested to see what you think.


  2. That all sounds absolutely wonderful! I love taking walks through the woods (no mountains in the Kansas City, Missouri area) but prefer to mix the two things when we take trips–outdoor activity with being able to return to a comfortable, non-roughing it place to sleep, use the restroom, shower, etc. To me that is truly the best of both worlds. Reading about your walks while glancing at your header image makes me want to walk right out of the office and head out to one of the hiking trails outside of town. Not sure the boss would appreciate that though. I’ll have to settle for walking the dog tonight! 😉


  3. That sounds like a great vacation. I love walking–not sure I would have managed the climbing, but it sounds like you did a little bit of everything. I would love to visit Vermont someday–it looks so picturesque. And I keep seeing Charles Lamb mentioned lately, too. I may have to look him up as well. Looks like you have nice selection of new books to look forward to–I’m curious about The Wild Irish Girl, so you’ll have to read that soon! 🙂


  4. What a lovely holiday you had! It comforts me to think hikers are human – I picture you bounding up mountains day after day and it’s quite nice to think you get aching muscles and need to rest up too. Although I bet you still walked far, far further than I could contemplate. The book stack sounds delicious. I don’t even know who Charles Lamb is, so I’m looking forward to being educated!


  5. verbivore

    I will be very curious to see what you think of the Mullan book on novels, do tell!


  6. Sounds like a wonderful time! I grew up in a valley surrounded by mountains and now in MN it’s rather flat. I do miss those mountains, one of the very few things I miss about CA! Sounds like you found some nice books too. Can’t wait to hear about the library book sales when they arrive!


  7. Debby

    I hope one day we can take you to the Book Barn near our house…so many wonderful used books it could make you cry that life is not twice as long, to get in all the reading we want to do!

    Will you and Hobgoblin be trying the Mount Washington Hill Climb on your bikes one day? I’ve heard stories about that.

    I need to leave you with this:


  8. How wonderful that you got to spend time in nature. I’m not one for camping but I do love a good hike. And, your visits to the bookstores sound like a fabulous time. Oh and do you have those library book sales marked on your calendar? 🙂


  9. Wow! Most people put bumper stickers on their cars, because the CAR managed to climb Mt. Washington. I’m duly impressed, and definitely think you’re ready to conquer your tiny little name-sake Mt. Dorr in Maine (want to meet Bob and me there in September?). Your after-effects sound like the after- effects I suffered after climbing Mt. St. Helen’s. Virtuous pain, though, huh?


  10. Lisa — I’m sure I HAVE heard about the Guernsey book but the information never stuck in my mind, but it will now, since it has to do with Lamb — thanks for making the connection, and I’ll have to find the book!

    Carl — I sympathize! But walking the dog can bring its own pleasure, certainly, even if it doesn’t involve climbing mountains!

    Danielle — Vermont is absolutely beautiful, and I didn’t want to leave! What I saw of New Hampshire was amazing as well. It’s a shame that I live relatively close but don’t often visit …

    Litlove — I picture myself bounding up mountains day after day too, and then reality hits and I find myself longing for the sofa 🙂 My problem is that I never remember remember how painful it can be, and so I head out again …

    Verbivore — I’ll certainly post about it; so far so good, although I don’t think he has much to say about the technical side of novels that you don’t already know. But there are other things to enjoy.

    Stefanie — today I only came home with two books, but the big library sale is next week, and I’m sure I won’t be as disciplined then 🙂

    Debby — thanks for the link — that button cracked me up! As for the Book Barn, I’m there, definitely! And I don’t think I’ll try the Mt. Washington hill climb — the fact that I hate hills is one reason, and the the $500 (or whatever it is) entry fee is another, but I do admire those who give it a try.

    Iliana — I’m checking for the library sale dates way ahead of time, believe me!

    Emily — now I can scoff at those bumper stickers, which I will thoroughly enjoy. I’d totally be there with you in September if school were to allow it!


  11. JCR

    How Novels Work is a wonderful and insighful book. I am so glad you enjoyed it!


  12. Thanks JCR — I’ll be writing a post on it soon — I’m glad to hear you liked it so much.


  13. It’s amazing how sore one’s legs get if they’re not accustomed to hiking. I could barely walk for days and days after climbing Ben Nevis, which is *only* 1344 meters high.


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