Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Packing Books

At Publishing Perspectives, Erin Cox talks about packing books for a summer vacation. Like Erin, I cultivate my stack of books “like some people cultivate gardens.” Her post started me thinking about my own book-packing habits. Most of my trips these days are work-related, rather than a summer vacation, so I need to pack fewer books than Erin (her list includes 14 titles). Nonetheless, I carefully consider (and reconsider) the books I pack for days before the trip. Here’s my general formula:
  • A collection of short stories (or a recent issue of Bookforum, or a handful of back issues of One Story) for filling short gaps of time
  • One completely mesmerizing, but fairly uncomplicated, novel to take my mind off bad patches of turbulence, rude cabdrivers, and noisy restaurants
  • One challenging and thought-provoking book. This could be experimental fiction, poetry, a collection of essays or something similarly demanding. Such books are great for those solitary, uninterrupted evenings spent in hotel rooms.
  • Something funny to counteract long days filled with meetings
  • Something related to my destination, whether it’s a travel memoir, a collection of essays, or fiction
  • An audiobook (or a collection of the latest episodes of my favorite book podcasts) to liven up workouts in gloomy hotel fitness centers

I don’t often satisfy every piece of this “formula,” but I always end up with a good mix of reading material for my trips. For example, for this week’s trip to Anchorage, Alaska, I’ve brought along:

  • Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr.
  • Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
  • Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
  • Boy by James Hanley
  • Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris (an audiobook)
  • The latest three issues of One Story


Lit and Life said...

I always try to pack a variety but nothing too heavy because I'm always traveling with family and can't always spend too much time at any one time reading.

Zibilee said...

It's cool that you have a formula that seems to work for you. I just try to stuff as many books as I possibly can into my luggage, though I rarely get the time to read any of them.

mike mitchell said...