Time and Place: Books Edition

The topic of "Time and Place" songs and albums has come up around these parts a couple of times, but today it struck me that certain books fall into this category as well.

When I think of A Four-Sided Bed by Elizabeth Searle, I recall eating Reese's Pieces while sprawled my bed--a mattress on the floor of an unair-conditioned* apartment--in the summer of 1999.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows brings to mind a trip up north in the summer of 2007 when I could hardly tear myself away from the book to do anything else (including speaking to my family) until I'd finished it.

I love those books read during long hours in the summer when I could read with barely an interruption. There's little opportunity for that at the moment, but I trust that someday I'll be able to read that way again.

Are there books that take you back to a certain time and place? And what are you currently reading?

*I had no idea how that word was spelled until I looked it up just now.

24 thoughts on “Time and Place: Books Edition”

  1. I remember reading Moneyball in one night while home visiting from DC in my brother's bedroom.

    I also remember reading the last of Taylor Branch's MLK/Civil Rights trilogy on Navarre Beach in Florida.

  2. Last month I finished William Manchester and Paul Reid's final volume in The Last Lion, their Winston Churchill trilogy. Nothing like 2,961 pages about a very interesting man, although this was the weakest of the three books as it focused way too much on WWII before D-Day (but without any new or unique perspective) and not nearly enough on the start of the Cold War.

    I also had my rate dabble into fiction with Broken River. It felt a little Coen Brothersesque with its detached violence and self-absorbed characters.

  3. The big one that jumps out for me is a winter break spent reading Crime and Punishment.

    I couldn't tell you when it happened, but late, late nights staying up reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy also come to mind. Always seems like it's pitch black when I read that one.

    I also recall well reading the short stories of Flannery O'Connor on breaks at a factory job I had one summer. Those were probably the highlight of that break.

  4. Most of my vivid memories come from horror as my emotions were heightened. Koontz's "Phantoms" made me scared to get up at night and when I finished "'Salem's Lot" I looked around the house for a cross just in case.

    In college I was reading Koontz's "Intensity" at one in the morning when there was a huge knock on my door. I just about shit myself. It was a pizza delivery guy at the wrong address.

  5. I remember reading Kafka's The Trial one warm summer in Washington, DC. As I was finishing the book, the lights went out in a thunderstorm. I lit some candles so that I could finish. Now I won't spoiler the ending, but it's Kafka right, it doesn't end well. I was so mad at the dour ending I threw the book across the room, knocking over one of the candles. (no fire ensued).

  6. I just finished "Devil in the White City. " I know a lot of people loved it but I didn't really get into it. It seemed like 2 unrelated stories mashed together.

    1. I read that about a decade ago and thought it was good but not incredible. Looking back at the New York Times review, I wonder if Larson's use of the techniques of fiction in telling a nonfiction narrative was more remarkable when the book came out than it is now.

      As I recall, I was frustrated with Holmes because I don't think I ever really understood his motivations--though perhaps that information simply doesn't exist.

  7. I just checked out Tree Smoke by Denis Johnson and Between the World and Me by Coates. Will start with Johnson. I don't like to read back-to-back nonfiction.

  8. One that really reminds me of a time and place was Bridge to Terrabithia. I finished it in my 5th grade classroom. I fought off tears and made sure I didn't make eye contact with anyone. I had never read a book where a main character died before that.

    Also, finished up the last Harry Potter book sitting in a hotel bathroom. Coughing all night and didn't want to wake up kids. Hotel rooms with young kids suck.

    1. I read Bridge to Terabithia on my own, but my lasting memory of the book was actually when it was read to our fifth-grade class. I'm the only one who'd read it, and anticipating the response from my classmates was a very strange feeling.

  9. I was knee deep into a train ride through Germany when I looked up and saw that we were pulling into Dresden station. I was also knee deep into slaughterhouse five. I can still remember the total loss of comprehension I felt

    1. On our recent trip, I was reading a section of Empire of Cotton that was discussing Baden and St. Gallen during a train ride through Baden and St. Gallen.

  10. One summer during high school, my buddy and I were out in the yard at French Lake Auto Salvage, looking for I don't remember what (I had an '81 Buick Regal and he an '80 Chrysler LeBaron - we always needed something). Anyway, on the ledge behind the headrest in the back window of some junk car was a sun-bleached, water-stained copy of It. To this day, that book pushes my mind back to a hot summer day and the smell of dust and diesel and motor oil and decayed rubber.

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