the right number and kind of books for the trip

by Jackie Ferrari in #AmReading

vacation reading planning is important

I will read on an e-reader. I’ll even forget it’s an e-book pretty quickly, sometimes to my detriment when I’m wandering the house looking for my book and not remembering that it and my iPad are one and the same. Especially for a long trip that involves a flight, digital books are key.

But I’m still gonna pack a paper book or two or more, depending on mode of travel, duration of trip and plans therein.

The POINT of this email (and yo hi howdy welcome to a bunch of new reading subscribers!) is…. how many books for what kind of trip?

I took five books on a very active, hiking filled vacation with friends earlier this summer and during the trip I read… three chapters. Maybe four. The right number of books for that trip would have been three: one for bedtime and carrying back and forth to various pools, one for the flight and one because what if one of them is bad? What if one reads really quick? What if you surprise yourself? What if the plane sits on the tarmac for eight hours?

You have to prepare for these things!

Tonight I’m packing for a week on the beach and the right number of books is… eleven.

What? I winnowed down from 20, I’ll have you know. It’s the beach. We’re driving, so I have all the room on the world. We go every year so I know I’ll read a ton… and you know how it is. One book puts you in a mood for different one and how am I supposed to know?

Here’s what made the cut and why… and what didn’t! Buckle up, you’re in for a ride.

No brainers: I have advance copies of Jennifer Weiner’s newest The Breakaway and ditto Mhairi McFarlane’s Between Us. Perfect beach books! And I get to look cool while I sit there reading books that no one else has yet! (That is totally why we check each other out at the beach, amirite?)

Also on the beach reads list: Meg Mitchell Moore’s Summer Stage and Adrienne Brodeur’s Little Monsters, which is set on the Cape. I’ve been hesitating on that one, because her memoir was a little intense for me, but I read a few pages and I’m giving it a shot.

Things got a little harder when it came time to add a fantasy to the bag. Can you believe I haven’t read Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone yet? It beat out Martha Wells’ Witch King but it was close…. and it maybe only won because I’m bringing her second Murderbot Diaries book, Artificial Condition. Also in the running: A Magic Steeped in Poison. That’s a little more witchy, so it’s sliding into fall reads.

I’ve been heavy into regency romance lately, so I definitely needed to pack one. I wobbled wildly between Portrait of a Scotsman (Evie Dunmore, third in a series) and A Lady’s Guide to Scandal (Sophie Irwin, second in a series—I don’t always read series but they do make regency reading easier, because the characters often have quite complicated backstories and multiple titles and names and whatnot). Portrait of a Scotsman won, because the fourth in that series is coming this fall and I must be ready, obviously. Although I’d put a solid bet on my reading the Sophie Irwin before then too. It was a toss-up, really.

I once, long long ago, read Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog: A Novel of the Oxford Time Travel Series multiple times. It’s about a group of time travelers trying to save things from famous buildings in London before they get bombed in WWII and some of them get stuck and something about it just spoke to me—but then a long interval passed of my not reading any of her books for no reason other than that I didn’t. But with the appearance of The Road to Roswell, that’s about to change. I was going to wait on it (I know I’ll read it) but then I flipped it open and… I really want to drop everything and read this one right now. (Also… you HAVE to click on her website, it’s the most old-school thing I’ve seen in a long long long time. This is someone who needs nothing from Mark Zuckerberg et al and I am here for it.)

From here, we go miscellaneous. I’ve got Salman Rushdie’s Victory City, an out there choice for me but my oldest child loved it and so I’m in. Paula Hawkins’ La Chica del Tren, aka The Girl on the Train, because I’ve never read it and I’m reading to improve my Spanish—but when I tried to do that via a romance that I would love in English I failed miserably, because it turns out that if you really have to read the translated words of a book that was meant to be gobbled up like a bon bon it gets kinda… painful. I found La Chica del Tren in my hotel on the above mentioned hiking adventure and snatched it up. (Did I take five books on a trip and come home with six? I did not. I left behind an English book in trade. But if I had that would be fine.)

Number eleven is The Kamogawa Food Detectives, which is in translation from a super popular Japanese series and which I’m reading for possible blurbing—but I never agree to read anything for that purpose that I wouldn’t read anyway, so I’m happy to have it in the—large, toppling—stack.

Things I left behind: The Creative ACT: A Way of Being, Rick Rubin (small chance that will sort of accidentally make its way into the car), a new Tarot book, two memoirs, Playing the Witch Card (I need to re-read my own book, it’s true, but I don’t think I’ll do it on the beach), The English Experience, which is the new book from Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and which I’m dying to read but has such a fall vibe I think not at the beach, same reasoning for leaving behind You, Again—a When Harry Met Sally story that literally has fall leaves on the cover and I am not ready.

Want to watch me cope with my pile? I made a time lapse—you can see it here on my TikTok . And you can absolutely expect to hear more about many of these books later. (Close readers will note that if you don’t… I maybe didn’t enjoy them as much as I expected to.)

Whew! What’s the most books you’ve ever taken on vacation?

If you love #AmReading, the nicest thing to do for me is buy MY books. The second nicest is forwarding this email to a friend.

Why not do both?

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