Books and the All-Inclusive Resort

all-inclusiveSo my friend Jay and I went to an all-inclusive resort recently for a week in Cancun, Mexico.

All-inclusive vacations are steps back in time–someone makes your bed in the morning and turns down the covers at night (with chocolate!).

Someone you never see picks up the towels and straightens the room; you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want.

People continually ask if they can bring you a drink.

You can wear your bathing suit all day long and jump in and out of the water at will.

I’d never done a real vacation at such a place, but we were both tired and in need of relaxation, so we went.

Wow. It actually happened. I was relaxed.

Except when I was reading on the beach.

I plan my vacation reading with care and always worry more about what I’m going to read while traveling than what clothes I’m taking.

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Books, even with the Kindle app on my Ipad, were the major issue.

I took four.

Jay only brought one, along with reading for work. She spent the entire week on the chaise lounge beside me savoring, Lori Benton’s Burning Sky.

(Great choice. I loved that book, too! But I’d already read it.)


My first choice: Jo Baker’s Longbourn.all-inclusive

Many friends had read and loved it and I anticipated a great read.

It’s a wonderful story with astonishing vocabulary and a fun idea: Pride and Prejudice told from the point of view of the servants!

I nestled down, thrilled to be there.

Until I started reading about doing laundry, having to figure out food and running up and down the stairs.

I felt guilty.

Even as I ordered another fruity drink (alas, no umbrellas at this all-inclusive resort).

Bible study

When I couldn’t handle the guilt any more, I switched to more “uplifting” fare: preparing for the Bible study I teach on Tuesday mornings.

all-inclusiveThis fall I’m teaching on James.

The book of James; you know, faith and WORKS!

I thought I was pretty clever. I printed up the entire book onto seven pages and folded it into the book, so I could use my pencil to make notes without hauling a Bible to the beach.

Worked just fine.

The handsome waiter in shorts and a Hawai’ian shirt beamed when he brought me a virgin strawberry dacquiri. “I’m a Christian,too. Happy studying.”

“Muchas gracias.”

I said that a lot.

In that languid, gorgeous weather, I typically did two week’s study at a time and then switched back to my book.

I loved Longbourn, but I was happy to move along to something that reminded me less of my usual existence–cooking, cleaning, laundry, child-soothing, husband tending.

Kisses from Katie

How about Kisses from Katie? My friend Cheryl insisted I’d love it.

I did.

The inspiring story of Katie J. Davis’ decision in her teens to move to Uganda, it described the way God worked in her life and changed her view of service and America. She adopted fourteen daughters when she, herself, was only nineteen years-old.

Could I have another drink, after I get out of the pool?

Truly an astonishing story that went hand-in-hand with my study of James (I’ve been reading excerpts out loud to my ladies), it encouraged me, gave me a lot to think about and made me feel, well, guilty.all-inclusive

Muchas gracias, senor. The towel is wonderfully soft.”

I read it in a day and a half.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder

I finished up the week–two straight days beside the water, feeling the silky humid air only occasionally stirred by a breeze, while watching boats sail by with what I was sure would be a perfect ending, Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown.

There I was on a Caribbean beach wtih a pirate ship sailing on the horizon (tourist fare. It’s name? Captain Hook). What better way to finish the week?

I learned in the first pages.

It’s told from the point of view of the kidnapped cook!

What’s for dinner?

Who cares? The resort is all inclusive!

What do you read when you’re on vacation?

Does God ever trick you?


An all-inclusive vacation and reading work. Click to Tweet

Reading about servants while being served? What’s wrong with this picture? Click to Tweet

Inspiring–and guilt inducing– beach reads. Click to Tweet



Leave a comment


  1. “Could I have another drink, after I get out of the pool?”
    I laughed out loud at the brilliant irony in that statement right after “She adopted fourteen daughters when she, herself, was only nineteen years-old.”

    I’m so glad you and Jay had such a nice rest. You work very hard and I know quite a few people depend on you.

    When my mom and I went on our Epic Adventure in June of 2013, I had a hard time not making the bed. And the cabin steward would either re-make it, or tidy up my sad efforts. His name was Johnson and he was such a nice guy, and even left extra chocolates each day for me to take home to my kids. We asked him about his life, took the time to say hello to him and chat for a minute whenever we saw him, and thanked him profusely for his hard work. Our room was always spotless. Like, SPOTLESS!
    We had a hard time saying goodbye to the luxury, and then when I got home? Hubs got a real kick out of saying “No, honey, my name is JOHN, not Johnson, there’s no chocolate on your pillow.”

    • Michelle Ule

       /  September 30, 2014

      Clever man, your husband! I said please and thank you to everyone . . .

  2. Joyce

     /  September 30, 2014

    Your vacation sounds like a dream-come-true. I also stress about what books to take on vacation and usually take more than I can read in case one (or two) turn out to be disappointments.

    Here’s my plug for Lori Benton’s second book ~ The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn. Loved it as much as her first book ~ Burning Sky. Highly recommend both books!

    • Michelle Ule

       /  September 30, 2014

      Yes, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn also was excellent. I usually carry one book and have a bunch more on the Kindle, just in case the first doesn’t work out or I finish it on the plane. Funny, though, I don’t like to buy books while I’m traveling, so I load up the app before I leave!

  3. I don’t take vacations…when I look at all the doggy faces as I go out the door, saying “Why can’t we come too?” it strikes me…THIS is where i would be, above all other places. Where I’m needed, and wanted.

    But if I did take a vacation, I suppose I would like to see Hawaii, and re-read Gordon Prange’s “At Dawn We Slept” while touring Pearl Harbour.

    Then on to the Palaus, and a pilgrimage to Peleliu, with Eugene Sledge (With the Old Breed) and Bill Sloan (Brotherhood of Heroes) as my guides.

    And finally to Iwo Jima, following Chuck Tatum’s “Red Sun, Black Sand”.

    But it will never happen. My duty station’s right here.

  4. Michelle Ule

     /  September 30, 2014

    We lived right on Pearl Harbor during my husband’s tour of Hawai’i and it was a curious experience to watch some of those WWII movies knowing that wild chaos and horror basically took place in our back yard!

    When I did research on Oswald Chambers, I reread his biography at night and was amazed to see the actual documents referenced the next day at the library.

    Of course Wheaton College Special Collections material came from the David McCasland, the author of the book, so I shouldn’t have been surprised! 🙂


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