Earlier this week I took a spur of the moment holiday to Abu Dhabi - my partner's parents live there and he also had the opportunity to take a meeting about new job. It was the perfect opportunity to play hooky from life for a few days. Yes, it meant taking two red eye flights in three days but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a little bit of free sunshine in the depths of winter. February in England is continually grey, often quite rainy, and bitterly cold (although as I write this there is some winter sunshine streaming in through the window). I don't think weather affects my reading habits very much in general, but if nothing else unpleasant winter weather prevents me from enjoying one of my favourite things - reading outdoors!
There is something so special about spending the day reading in the sunshine. Growing up on my parents' farm in Maryland we were always shoved outside during the summer months and whenever I tired of getting into trouble I would take my book somewhere sunny and read. Sometimes if my mother caught me lounging around with a book too often she would force me to do something active like ride the horses or go for a bike ride, so I found secret places to hide with my book and while away the sunny days. Now that I've grown up and moved away, I don't even have a garden for reading in when the weather is nice. I do sometimes read in the park or on the balcony looking over the courtyard, but it's certainly not as idyllic.
While I was in Abu Dhabi I was sure to soak up every ounce of sunshine I could. The villa has a lovely garden, complete with palm trees and a swimming pool, so I could sit outside all day long with my book. Yes, the beach was only five minutes walk away but for a day of reading I much prefer having a fully-stocked kitchen at hand. We did go for some walks on the beach of course (pictures above and below), but the main event of this little mini-holiday was the reading. Two days of reading in the sun. It was perfect.
So...what did I read in the sunshine this week?
I finished reading Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (Goodreads, review to come). I also read Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer (Goodreads), started on A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell (Goodreads), and read another cheeky romance novel The Duchess War by Courtney Milan (Goodreads). Not to mention hours of travel listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks, Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince.
Usually for holidays I plan my reading choices weeks in advance, including ambitious goals to read that one big, important tome I haven't gotten around to (I'm looking at you, In Search of Lost Time - stop jumping in my suitcase on every holiday!). Then of course I end up bringing along about a dozen books in addition to loading up my Kindle with new titles. This time I had no chance to plan in advance - I grabbed my current read, my Kindle, and the first book on my bedside table. And it was just perfect. Three days devoted to reading in the sunshine, with no expectation to read just the right book. I just read and and read and read. And soaked up the sun.
Passenger was accidentally the perfect read for the trip - my favourite parts of the book took place in the Middle East. It was my first trip to that part of the world and so it was especially exciting to read about it in such a unique book. Continuing on with The Lunar Chronicles was another stroke of luck. Holidays are perfect for reading series, if it had been a week-long trip I would have brought the remainder of the series along to read them all back-to-back. I read Scarlet in one sitting and it definitely rekindled the spark for this series - I've already picked up Cress and ordered Winter so I can continue the story. A surprise trip was the perfect time to read without abandon, to read for fun.
If you're in a reading slump, or suffering from the winter blues, sick of hibernating under blankets through the cold months - a little reading in the sunshine could be the perfect cure. Of course if you have the opportunity to jump on a plane for a short holiday in the sun, don't think twice and just GO. If that's not possible for you, maybe you should keep an eye out for some winter sun - bundle up and take your book outside. It'll be cold, but there's nothing better than the sun falling on your book's pages as you read.