For me the hardest part of packing for a trip is making sure I have all the books I’ll need to get me through airport delays, long flights, pool lounging, and, of course, for bedtime reading when I’m too tired from a day of strenuous vacationing to fall asleep. Then, there’s the tricky part: leaving enough room in my bulging carry-on for the books I will be buying while abroad. We all have these problems, right? Right?
Well, when I set off for France two weeks ago, I had the equivalent of my bedside table pile on my Kindle, the galleys I got at BEA five years ago of Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, and a couple of back issues of the Oprah magazine. I congratulated myself on my light packing.
While in the beautiful Aquitaine region, I finished the Tropper and Jo Jo Moyes’ One Plus One (for my neighborhood book club) and I had queued up the Lily King novel that’s been getting so many raves for the flight back home. Then, it was time to head back to the States. We had five hours to kill in London and a large W.H. Smith store to browse in. And they were having a “buy one get one ½ price” sale on books that had made the British bestseller lists. So…
Having already logged quite a few miles that day and anticipating an exhausting journey home (frankly, the worst part of international travel is getting on the Van Wyck Expressway to and from JFK airport—it calls itself a road, but it’s really a parking lot), I opted for the lighter seeming of the two books to start. And so, I dug into Letters from Skye, which feels like a cross between The Notebook and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and was not disappointed. It’s a lovely, easy read with just the right mix of romance and sadness to keep you turning pages. And, I’m really looking forward to diving into the Wyld book, which appears to be much darker and literary (a bit Gaiman-ish).
The best thing, though, is finding new voices as a result of my travels that I might not have ever stumbled on while on this side of the Atlantic. Turns out both of the books I picked up in London are available in the U.S., but they were not on my radar. The fact that they were prominently displayed and discounted at a busy airport store made it easy for me to part with the last of my Euros and take home what is to me the perfect souvenir of my European vacation.
How do you handle books and reading on your trips? Are you literary over-packers? Do you have to go into any bookstore you pass—whether in North Carolina or Marrakesh? Do you jointly archive experiences, scenery, and the narratives you were immersed in while on the road? What did you read on your last vacation?