A Book Binge by the Beach

February 8, 2010 at 6:29 am (Uncategorized)

There’s nothing quite like days of torrential rain to justify a lazy weekend. We did nothing. Or rather, I did nothing. Or rather, I did nothing but eat, drink and read. It was fabulous. We’re budgeting like close-fisted freaks for the foreseeable future, and there was no better way to start our forced hibernation than with 15 centimetres of rain. Maybe more. It bucketed down. So I eyed off Wolf Hall early Saturday morning and told Llew, “I’ll be knocking that over this weekend,” which indeed I did. Meanwhile Llew, having romped his way through The Lost Symbol, surprised me by finally listening to my insistent whine that he would really, really love Tim Winton’s Breath. I’m pleased (a little smug, if you want the absolute truth) to say he took to it like, well, like the novel’s Pikelet takes to the West Australian waters.

I rarely moved off the sunroom ottoman all weekend. Llew managed to go running both Saturday and Sunday, but I figured I’d cracked that particular whip through the week, and if instead I wanted to lie about eating a series of toasted hot cross buns with lashings of butter, well then, what of it? I would. And did. Oh, we did go for a swim both days, and we did do our usual Man Town Mooch Saturday morning – gathering supplies, you see, very important for successful hibernation – but other than that, life assumed a suspended quality as we proclaimed a Rain Delay. We wandered down to the farmers’ market, doing the usual sweep for all our fruit & veg needs, then stopped off at Barefoot, our fabbo local hole-in-the-wall, for a couple of coffees and a piping hot, perfectly caramelised Belgian waffle (for some reason my sweet tooth was insatiable on Saturday: I also got them to put an almond croissant in a bag for me for later – not much later, as it turned out. Just prior to the hot cross bun binge, in fact). After that, we crossed the road into Desire, the equally excellent secondhand book store and surely  one of my favourite places. Time passed. I sank into a comfy armchair at the back and started reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods ($12). I was trying to be good, you see, I was trying to decide which of the three books in my lap would make it home with me. Budgeting. That’s what budgeting means. But when you’re trying to budget around book buying, then budgeting bloody well blows.

The other books were Dave Eggers’s What is the What ($14) and Mantel’s Vacant Possession (a bargain at $8). Seems like I’m not just bolting buns: both Gaiman and Mantel have been receiving a lot of my attention recently. I’m a bit hooked on zing. Being a much slighter volume – therefore more portable and less likely to result in injury – Mantel’s memoir Giving up the Ghost has been standing in for Wolf Hall when I’ve been out and about, so it’s really been a bit gluttonous on that front. Can’t. Stop. Shoving. It. In. Anyway, sitting in Desire, I read the first 13 pages of American Gods only to realise my quandary: I wanted all three books. I was clutching them possessively, as though they were already mine. In a way they were. So there was nothing else for it: I had to resort to cunning. I hauled myself out of the comfy seat, barrelled up to Llew – who, let’s face it, was still browsing in a most indecisive, undisciplined manner, looking in fact like he could really use my help – and said sweetly, shoving the Eggers under his nose, “You’d really love this book.”

He read the title and handed it back, unimpressed.

“Weird name.”

“Yes,” I said, panic squeezing my heart, “but, um, it’s supposed to be really amazing. And… and… well, I was right about Ransom, wasn’t I? And… and… you’re loving Breath, aren’t you? See? Trust me! I know you will love this book. Here. Read the blurb. Just read the blurb and tell me if that doesn’t sound like you.”


I know it.

But I don’t care.

Sighing, giving in to his fate, probably seeing from the insane glint in my eye that resistance was futile, Llew reluctantly took back the book and flipped it over to the back cover. I waited, thinking to myself all the while that simultaneously fluttering one’s eyelids and maintaining a bright, verging on creepy smile was a lot harder than you’d think. Llew looked at me and stepped back, no doubt startled by my bared fangs. He looked down at the book in his hand, looked at his lunatic wife, and handed over the book.

“This sounds great,” he said. “I want to read it.”

“You know,” I said, much like the sales assistant who goes on and on about how good the dumpy dress looks even once you’ve consented to buy it just to shut her up, “you probably don’t remember this, but when this book came out, I read out a review to you, and you said at the time you’d like to read it.”

Llew nodded. “Uh huh. Okay. And I will.”

I skipped off to the cash register, and I think Llew started shopping around for a book on Great Escapes.

Saturday afternoon while the downpour continued, we put out the courtyard awning, pushed back the bifold doors, and sprawled on the ottoman, enjoying the storm while still protected from it. After I’d eaten all my baked goods, Llew put together a cheese plate, which we slowly devoured over a bottle of wine, heads in books, and then flexed his muscle in the kitchen, turning out an outstanding Thai chicken curry for dinner. YUM. We opened a second bottle of wine while he gave me the long-awaited feedback on my manuscript (more on that anon as I’m already pushing the 1,000 word barrier…), and finally rolled off to bed, falling asleep to the sound of the sky falling in.

I loved Wolf Hall – but perhaps we should discuss it tomorrow? I’ve chewed your eyeballs long enough for one day!



  1. charlotteotter said,

    To me that sounds like the PERFECT weekend. Oh heaven. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Wolf Hall and Llew’s on your MS.

    • doctordi said,

      It was pretty damn good, Charlotte. Most excellent, in fact. You’ll see I’ve obliged on the Wolf Hall front; I think Llew’s thoughts shall have to wait until tomorrow because otherwise I risk infecting everyone with a great dose of reader fatigue…

  2. Pete said,

    I was laughing at your description of getting Llew to buy that book. Scary and hilarious. Are there lots of fangs in Wolf Hall? Look forward to reading that review. But it’s so hefty. How do people manage to hold it up for the however many hours it takes to read? (Oh dear, that sounds terribly wimpy.)

    • doctordi said,

      I don’t know how Llew puts up with it, Pete.

      Of a figurative kind, indeed, fangs abound in Wolf Hall! It really is a weighty tome – definitely one for reading prone, preferably propped up by pillows with a steady steam of English Breakfast tea arriving at one’s elbow.

  3. Grad said,

    I feel relaxed just hearing about your weekend. I’ve always said that, for me anyway, an ordinary day is far superior to a holiday. I’m not really into sweets, but that almond croissant sure sounds good. How did you like Wolf Hall?

    • doctordi said,

      Yes, Graddikins, I am usually a savoury head myself, but last weekend it was all about the sweet treats. Although it’s true that when it comes to hot cross buns, I am a stranger to myself. A very greedy stranger.

      Loved Wolf Hall as you’ll see.

  4. Norwichrocks said,

    Well, if it makes you feel any less guilty about your weekend’s indulgence – I did nothing but eat brunch with friends on both Saturday and Sunday. And read Annie Proulx. And watch ‘Sharpe’ on DVD.

    Oh, wait, I did go to yoga on Saturday morning.

    Now I want to hear all about Llew’s comments on your MS…

  5. doctordi said,

    What is this thing you call ‘Sharpe’?!

    Which Proulx?

    And what was on the menu/s for brunch? I did something delicious Saturday involving sauteed mushrooms, goat’s curd and basil on toast. Delish.

  6. litlove said,

    I do like weather that gives me an excuse to do nothing but read. Not that I am incapable of refusing to do anything but read out of sheer caprice. But having justification is just that cherry on the top. I’ve just read your comment on my site about liking difference of opinions at book groups, so I do hope that Llew reads the Eggars and has a productively, interestingly different take on it for you!

    • doctordi said,

      It was truly ideal reading weather, LL. Living by the beach, we often feel impelled to get outside and do stuff, but this was the perfect excuse not to leave the apartment for an entire weekend, it was just bliss.

      Let’s see how we go with the Eggers…!

  7. Lilian Nattel said,

    Books weather–wonderful! I would like to take 6 months off and do nothing but read and walk and enjoy various sorts of weather.

  8. doctordi said,

    Lilian, that sounds like an outstanding blueprint for a break. I’d like that too!!

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