Friday, May 02, 2014

Friday Reading Assignment: what to read while traveling

I love to select books to take on a trip, although it is a slightly anxious process.  What if you arrive at your destination and don't like the books you brought or run out of reading material before your trip is done?  I generally over pack when it comes to books and will sacrifice other things, like shoes, to make room for more books. On our flight to Rome, I had a dreadful moment when I realized I'd accidentally brought Persuasion instead of Sense & Sensibility.

I have a habit of packing something that I ought to read and I've spent several trips struggling with books like Midnight's Children and Women in Love.

Yes, I did fit all of these into my suitcase

Here is a list of what I'm packing for my trip to Cape Town.
  • The Thirteen Gun Salute by Patrick O'Brian.  I'm reading this one now and hoping there will be a stop in Cape Town, as there sometimes is in the Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin series.
  • Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold.  "A novel inspired by the life and marriage of Charles Dickens."  
  • August Folly by Angela Thirkell.  Pure indulgence.
  • Something by Jane Austen.  Maybe I'll try to pack Sense & Sensibility again.
  • Crime & Punishment.  It sounds crazy, but it's on deck for the Fifty Classics project.  It's very likely that I won't even open it, but maybe our old paperback copy will become more interesting simply because it traveled needlessly to Cape Town and back.
  • The Rough Guide to Cape Town.  Of course I'm packing guide books!  I haven't traveled with one of the Rough Guide series before.  It's interesting how different guide books to the same place give such different information.
  • Fodor's Exploring South Africa.  I got this one at the library.  I've never been impressed with Fodor's, so I might leave it at home.
  • Wallpaper City Guide Cape Town. I've just discovered Wallpaper guides.  This series is focused on design, and I was excited to discover that Cape Town has been designated the world design capital for 2014.  Wallpaper books are marketed as "discreetly packaged" and before I bought my copy from Amazon, I had to look them up and make sure they weren't focused on where to find the sex industry.  They simply have plain colored covers and don't scream "guide book."
  • Eyewitness Travel South Africa.  The Eyewitness Travel books are my absolute favorites.  I got my copy at the public library.
Am I going to read all this?  No, but I will be spending thirty-six hours in flight (round trip) so I will need something to keep myself occupied. These are all paper books (although not necessarily paperback) mostly from the library.  I have no interest in a kindle, not even for the guidebooks, and especially not in Cape Town, where it is unwise to be seen with electronics.  I'm leaving for the airport in a few hours and I may jettison Fodors and Crime & Punishment, because, come on.

What do you like to read when you're on vacation?


  1. I usually bring secondhand paperbacks that I jettison along the way as I finish them, and buy a few new books for the Kindle.

  2. I rarely read on vacation. I'm a watcher.

  3. I didn't realize other people did this too! Erma Bombeck gave me this travel tip I've never forgotten: "Bring half the clothes you think you'll need and twice the money." Edited for me, "Bring half the books you think you'll need and twice the money," because I often completely forget such essentials as pants while deciding which books to take.

    I actually have a travel book, "The Origins of Totalitarianism" by Hannah Arendt.I took that with me on every trip outside my house I ever went on throughout my twenties until I'd finished it a couple of times. Now I'm not quite so dogged, but I do have books that I only read outside of the house. It encourages me to get out of my cocoon and venture forth into the world, so I can find out what happens next.

    1. That's awesome! You're right, something about travel takes you out of your usual reading habit

  4. i do this too! i went on a solo trip to madeira two years ago and took a large suticase filled with two bikinis, a sundress, and the rest was books galore!

  5. I'd scrap C&P because traveling through airports can be enough to endure without that kind of tedium.
    Still have a hundred pages left in that thing and I am ONLY reading it out of contractual obligation.

  6. I tend to reread The Lord of the Rings on vacation. But I have to admit that an e-reader of some kind is a beautiful thing while traveling, even though I hardly ever use mine at home: 50 books on a device smaller than one hardcover? Yes please.

  7. In the end, this is why I bought a kindle. Mine has 500 books on it, so plane rides are never a worry.

  8. O'Brien is always good. Enough detail to keep you engrossed, but still light enough to enjoy.

    I must say like some of the other commentators I have almost fully switched to ebooks now. Especially since i found so many free out there on the web.

  9. I always pack a Nook loaded with new books for travel. (And then keep my electronics hidden when not in use.) I usually also pack one paper book just in case the electronics run out of charge -- often something non-fiction that I won't burn through too quickly.

    For guidebooks, I read them in advance and then pack only one that I've marked up, annotated, and generally added to with bits and pieces from other books and websites.

  10. My husband bought me a kindle after he got tired of lugging my suitcases full of books everywhere. I still bring one or two (I can't help it), but with 75 books on my kindle, most of which are unread, I just take that.