You know that thing that happens when a reader you love gives you a book they love and they want you to love it too?
That's happening to me right now. My favorite reader has given me Vivian Swift's illustrated travel/memoir title Le Road Trip: A Traveler's Journal to Love and France. It's a travelogue in which Swift details her honeymoon trip through France, complete with Swift's watercolors on every page. It is a beautiful book. It's a romantic book. It's a funny book. Each of these attributes is readily apparent: just look at that cover. Now imagine a book chock-full of beautiful watercolor illustrations like that, only many of them include detailed drawings of gorgeous French buildings, the countryside, and various sunsets. (You can also get a better feel for Swift's painting if you visit her excellent blog.)
The romance comes in when Swift describes her new marriage: "It was a rainy Thursday night in Manhattan during a cold Spring, and, at a fine-arts fundraiser/cocktail party, I was looking at a room full of people I didn't know. A distinguished-looking silver-haired gentleman in a tweed jacket asked me if I was alone. 'Yes,' I said.
'So am I,' he told me.
Small talk: he told me about the funeral that he'd been to that afternoon, I told him that I'd stopped off at a record shop on my way to the party to buy a Blow Monkeys CD.
Death and pop music from the 1980s are two of my favorite topics of conversation...
We were married a year later." (p. 9.)
Mercifully, she tempers the romance with her humor, as when she describes what happens when the going gets tough, in love and in travel:
"Wandering with God through the Sinai Desert, His people often grew restless and rebellious of His ever-presence. Their annoyance grew in spite of His miraculous provisions of food and amusements along the way: sweet water and a lo-cal carbohydrate called manna (from Heaven, no less), pillars of fire and cloud. They even tried to ditch him altogether in favor of a golden calf. The whole trip must have worn on God's love, too, because once they all got where they were going He's never taken His people on that kind of journey again." (p. 112.)
I read the whole thing in a couple of days, looked at some of the pictures very carefully (particularly the ones in which I loved the purple-y light of French evenings and nights), and enjoyed it all very much.
So why can't I join my favorite reader in LOVING, no holds barred, this book? I don't know. I think it's just a question of mood. I'm not in a very romantic mood currently, and this is a very romantic book. And although I often really enjoy travel books, I am not really in the mood for travel narratives right now. It's a tricky little bugger, mood. Especially as it pertains to reading.
You ever had a book that someone wanted you to LOVE, right at that moment, and you couldn't match your enthusiasm?*
*Full disclosure: I totally know I've done this to people. When I love a book I won't shut up about it. I try not to tell people they HAVE to read it, and I try not to ask people how they like books I've given them, but it's hard!