I’m leaving for a mini Florida vacation this Friday. Aside from packing a suitcase under 50 pounds and picking out a wardrobe for 75° weather in 20° weather, my biggest concern is choosing what books I’m bringing with me.

I know I’m not the only one who spends an inordinate amount of time deciding  which books to bring on trips (both short and long). I tend to fly through books on vacation, so I need to bring enough novels to keep me and my umbrella drinks company for the duration of the trip.

I considered a few titles, but almost immediately decided against them. They included Infinite Jest (it’s one of my 2015 Book-ish Resolutions), IQ84 (which I bought for myself before Christmas), and The Bone Clocks (which I received as a gift for Christmas).  Despite desperately wanting to read all three books, they all seemed too demanding, and unsuitable for sunny skies and pool lounging.

Currently I’m reading Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, which is beautiful and dark and heavy. I’ve been savoring it for almost three weeks now (partly out of choice and partly due to the novel’s pacing–a full review to come), so I need something different. This has helped to narrow down my choices–nothing particularly literary despite that being my favorite kind of writing to read. I need something lighter and more conversational.

So here’s my idea: to bring 2 physical books–most likely one fiction and nonfiction book–and my Kindle, so I have the option of buying books from Amazon or borrowing them from the library. I think I’ve narrowed down my choices to:

Vacation ReadingLeaving Time by Jodi Picoult (another Christmas gift); Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris; Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch [Kindle]

22557272However, I may end of buying Paula Hawkin’s The Girl on the Train, a thriller released today (by Riverhead Books) that I’m dying to read. I’ve heard it’s addicting and fast-paced and well-plotted–the perfect combination for vacation reading. People have called it Hitchcockian and compared it to Gone Girl. Plus I’m a sucker for a good mystery–which is what this new release is shaping up to be.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to actually buy it before Friday but, if I don’t, I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself buying it in Florida for the plane ride home.

*       *       *

What books would you bring on vacation? What was the last book you read on vacation? Do you also spend inordinate amounts of time choosing the perfect travel book(s)?



8 thoughts on “Behind the Shelves: Vacation Reading

  1. I read The Secret History and We Were Liars on my last vacation and they were perfect! I just downloaded the audio of The Girl on the Train and I’m excited to get started. Have a good vacation! 🙂

  2. I don’t usually bring hefty books on vacation, but I read a good chunk of 1Q84 on a five hour bus ride to Vermont this summer (and also at night in the hotel). I agree it’s not a vacation read, but I think it’s a good commute read, provided you’re willing to do some lugging… 🙂

    A bit of an aside, but…I think typical “beach reads” are wonderful and would take it as a compliment if I wrote a book and it was labeled a “beach read” (or “chick lit” or “mom lit,” whatever). I feel like there’s a stigma against books that are more entertaining than intellectually stimulating, and it’s kind of sad–nobody should feel like their reading is inferior to someone else’s! I like seeing popular fiction on your must-read lists for that reason–knowing you, it doesn’t surprise me that you love all kinds of books, but I’d love to read your take on this matter sometime.

    1. Your comment is as insightful as you are, Molly! 🙂

      I’m actually going to start IQ84 soon and it will totally be a commuting book, so I’m glad you think it will be a good one.

      And as far as “beach reading,” I can definitely do a post on that in the future! I have many, many thoughts on the “stigma against books that are more entertaining than intellectually stimulating” and all that jazz.

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