Vacation reading: what do you bring?

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”
― Oscar Wilde

The question of what reading material to bring on vacation is serious business for us. It’s one thing if we’re just away for a long weekend, but when we are traveling somewhere by plane, and know we’ll have a good bit of dedicated reading time, the question becomes harder. Do I bring that brand new novel I’ve been dying to dig into, or a well-worn old favorite that I can pick up again and again? A 1200-page tome to be sure I won’t finish it before the vacation is over, or a few short, fast reads so I don’t get bored with one thing? And the new question, these last few years: technology, or traditional?

books on indiaPart of our travel research is reading about our destinations, and we’ve done a lot of that these past few months. Both fiction and nonfiction, memoirs, essays, and travelogues. But as much as we enjoy this, when we are actually on vacation, at our destination, we both usually prefer books that are completely different from where we are.

We have both thought a lot about what we’ll bring to read for this trip, so here’s a “his-n-hers” view on our travel reading plans:

Sara: I’ve decided to go with traditional format: I’m more of a real-book girl. I know the advantages of an e-reader, of course–lots and lots (and lots!) of reading material at your fingertips, light and easy to carry. But there are three disadvantages for me. First, technology can break, or at least run out of juice. And from what we read, there are occasional power outages that, with my luck, will happen at the exact moment I need to recharge my reading material. Second, there are those pesky rules on planes where you can’t use any technology during takeoff and then for the first 10 or so minutes after you’re in the air. And then the whole reverse thing when landing. But finally, we have so many books in our house already that I want to read (yeah, we buy a LOT of books; but that’s our only vice), and I don’t really see the need to re-purchase them on Kindle.

So, I’ve settled on bringing paperbacks: two I’ve never read before (The Dead Republic, by Roddy Doyle, and another TBD), and one old favorite I could read anytime, anywhere (A Moveable Feast, Hemingway). Oh, and a few magazines that have short fiction included, because you never know. And if I run out of stuff, I’m sure there will be a bookstore somewhere…

Rob: I am quite a flibbertigibbet when it comes to knowing what book to read next, especially when a trip is involved. Aside from the weight and format aspects, it can be hard deciding on a particular title, and I will change my mind probably 21 times between now and when we leave for the airport. (I will also peruse the bookstore in the airport, just in case.) Do I go with something I have read (and loved) before? (Thinking of Imajica by Clive Barker). Or try something new by an author I love (Thinking of A Perfect Spy by John le Carré.) There is always the competing pressure of wanting to pass the time with some quick read like Robert Ludlum or Stephen King, or using the time to finally tackle some aspirational tome that has sat unread on the bookshelf for decades (Joyce’s Ulysses, anyone?) Of course, in the end I may just cop out and sneak the Kindle, where I have loaded a bunch of short story anthologies (Perhaps I will finally finish the massive The Weird edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.)

Of course, we are looking forward to the book stalls on College Street in Kolkata to find new books.

What do you like to bring to read on vacation?


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