We just got back from a vacation at the Rockywald/Deephaven camps on Squam Lake in New Hampshire, which have been around since 1897. The kids and I had the run of the camp while my wife was attending knitting and sewing classes for the Squam Art Workshops. I could almost hear the clucking disapproval from the ghosts of the generations of Brahmins watching two smudge-faced Midwestern urchins hooting and hollering through their camp while their father sat around with a book.
But vacations are such a great time to sit down with a good book. Last year when we were at the camp,in addition to the two books I brought I read two we found in our cabin (Four Months on a Jap Whaler and an amazing old book about the adventures of Giovanni Battista Belzoni in Egypt. Those old books are one of my favorite parts of the camp: every TV-less cabin is stocked with vacation reading orphaned by generations of campers, and the library has hundreds more such books. It's a fascinating history of the reading patterns of a certain peculiar population in a very particular context. Here were some of my favorite titles I pulled from the shelves:
Every day while we waited for my wife to return to the main camp area for lunch, the kids and I would sit in the library and read old orphaned children's books. Their favorite was some 1940s story called The Green Ghost. The books I brought with me weren't much more sophisticated than these silly ones: Adventures, easy reading. But still a good reminder of how much I've always enjoyed getting lost in these things.