Friday, July 31, 2015

Packing the Perfect Vacation Read

What book will I read next?

Such is the angst of the avid reader packing for vacation. Because there is definitely a book (or two or three) going into the totebag or suitcase. For this finite time, for this limited stuff I can carry period, the choice of book is a weighty one.
What makes a good book to pack for vacation?
Of course, the invention of the iPad and e-readers has made the decision a less stressful one. You can carry all hundred of your books with you without an added suitcase.  But if you are like me – you’ve got to take a physical book, too.  Why? Sand, water, spilled drinks.

On a beach vacation, I’m taking my book to the beach. And I might even sit in the pool or at the edge of the water while reading. And that lazy river ride? Perfect (even if everyone else is looking at me like “what – is that a real book on a water ride?”)

Here’s my criteria for that real book that’s going in the suitcase.
  • Must be paperback. It’s a weight thing.
  • Got to be good. The frustration of taking a book that by chapter two I know I’m not going to like. Then what? Finish it? Leave it behind? And what do I do in the meantime?  Friend recommendations are a good choice. Sometimes a re-read of the classics is a good option, too.
  • Okay to lose and/or mess up a little bit. See my comments above about sand, water, spilled drinks.   There’s many times I’ve woken from a sun-induced nap to find my book covered in sand or a victim of high-tide.  Add to that, general vacation distractedness.
  • Doesn’t require too much concentration. Beach read usually means light and happy, that’s how I’ve described my own novel, Life in Spades.  But I’ll take a not so light book, too. I read Little Bee on the beach and while reading a particular scene (you know if you read it) wiggled my fingers in the sand.  I also was reading Ghana Must Go on the beach when I happened to be on the beach chapter in that book, and a wedding party showed up (in real life, it was a different gathering in the book.) 

Then what do you do with the book when you are done? Take it back home, leave it at your hotel?  I've stayed at some resorts with a library, where you can borrow and leave books. The library in Ocean City, Maryland also has a system that allows you to borrow books without needing a library card or donate books when you're ready to go home.  Some people leave their books in a public place, with the hopes that someone else will pick it up and enjoy it. A program like BookCrossing can help track your book's travels.  I haven't tried this, but considered it; sounds like it could be interesting. It reminds me of the Flat Stanley project from elementary school (am I showing my age?)

We’ve got a couple more weeks of summer vacation. A few more lazy afternoons at the pool. I'm hoping to get in at least a few more sand-filled, water-logged, rum-soaked books before it's all over.

What are you reading on vacation?

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