One of the best things about staying in a guest house instead of a hotel is the shelf of books that’s always waiting to be explored, complete with trashy romances or experimental poetry or self-help for alcoholics. And no matter what books I’ve brought with me, I always find myself abandoning them for the trash or the poetry or… well, not the twelve-step guides. But everything else!

Here’s the odd collection I went through on Whidbey Island last week:

The Diviners, by Libba Bray, which was fantastic (of course, because who doesn’t love Libba Bray?), but too scary for me. I had to read it in daylight hours only.

The Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri. I don’t usually read short stories. I don’t like how they leave me hanging just after I’ve fallen in love with the characters. And this book is full of the worst kind of frustration, precisely because the stories are so good and I fell so thoroughly in love. I’d happily read a novel based on any one of these tales.


Better Nate Than Ever, by Tim Federle. I read this at the insistence of my nine-year-old, who was whipping through books faster than I was. It was a silly, sweet, and heart-squeezing story. (My daughter picked this one up from her school library, where the librarian now lets her rummage through the new books before they’re even shelved. I have obviously done well teaching her life’s most important lesson: make friends with your librarian.)

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, by Evan Roskos. Is this not the best title ever? And I loved the main character in this book, in all his anxious navel-gazing.

Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo. Last week’s guest house had not only a grown-ups’ bookshelf, but a kids’ one as well. That’s where my daughter found this gem, which I read on our last night away. It was a candy box of perfectly linked stories and characters, tied up with a mildly magical ribbon. A perfect way to end the reading trip!

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