What do you like to read on vacation?

What do you like to read on vacation?

My family and I spent the beginning of June at the beach, and I’m not exaggerating when I say Will and I have been planning our vacation reading for months.

I don’t always read a lot when we travel. Not long before we went to the beach, we took a trip to visit old friends, and we were constantly on the go. I read an hour before bed almost every night, but when you get back to the hotel long after bedtime, that just doesn’t happen. (This tweeted conversation was from that trip.)

But the beach is different. I read on the beach, I read at the pool, I read when we’re hiding from the strongest sun in the middle of the afternoon. On a trip like this, where the point is to get away and take it (relatively) easy, I know to pack about one book for every day we’ll be gone. And I’m deliberate about what kinds of books I pack.

As a reader, I love a steady diet of leisurely-paced, contemplative, philosophical-leaning books. (Think: Wendell Berry, Marilynne Robinson, Wallace Stegner.) But when I pack for a leisurely vacation, I’ll pack one gently paced novel and a whole pile of page-turners: mysteries, humor, thrillers, women’s fiction. (Plus a decently-stocked kindle, for backup.)

When packing for vacation—and especially for the beach or pool—I prioritize books I don’t mind getting a little banged up: old paperbacks, advanced review copies, used book sale books I bought to read, not because they’re beautiful physical objects.

What this actually looks like in practice: that photo at the top is the stack of physical books I brought to the beach this year, minus The Lola Quartet, which I accidentally left on my nightstand when I snapped this. (I bought that paperback at the bookstore and wanted to keep it nice … but I did sneak it down to the pool during our trip.)

(I snapped this photo before we visited Barnes & Noble, or Sun Dog Books, or The Bookshelf. We usually come home with a few more books than we started with, but this year was a little ridiculous. I was concerned we wouldn’t be able to squeeze them all into the car!)

Other readers choose differently. I have reading friends who only pack enormous novels for a relaxing vacation, because they say a week away is their only chance to actually get through a nine-hundred page book in less than six months. Some readers tell me they only bring books from their own shelves they’ve been meaning to read on vacation, because when it comes to reading, travel time is catch-up time, and then they won’t mess up the library’s books.

Other friends like to pack beachy novels for the beach, or Colorado novels for a Colorado trek, or Paris novels for Paris. (Not that I’ve been to Paris since I was 17, but you take my point, yes?)

When it comes to reading preferences, every reader is different—and vacation reads are no exception.

Readers, today I’d love to hear what YOU pack when you’re in vacation mode (this absolutely includes staycation mode). What genres do you gravitate towards? Do you prefer hardcover or paperback, e-reader or audiobook? Hot new releases or older titles? Tell us all about your books—and if you’d like, where you’ll be reading them—in comments. 

P.S. Perfect for library patrons: 16 favorite novels for book clubs, and 4 female authors worth binge reading. Want new summer reads? Check out the 2018 Summer Reading Guide, and 20 books everyone will be talking about this summer.

123 comments | Comment

123 comments

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  1. Helen C says:

    You have a lovely blog by the way! Your perspective on holiday reading was really interesting to me, thanks for sharing. Over time I’ve realised I prefer light escapist reads while away, I don’t like anything too hard hitting. These days I tend to take physical paperback copies I don’t mind getting damaged. We tend to go away in a campervan, so books are great to keep me entertained. I’m a slow reader though so only take maybe two books and magazines for a week away. 🙂 xx

    Helen | Helen’s Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

  2. Julie Smith says:

    I try not to read anything non-fiction. On vacation I want something I don’t have to think about. I usually bring a couple of books and a stocked kindle.

  3. Susan says:

    I like a book I can finish in a day at the beach too. I loved the way you said, “a steady diet of leisurely-paced, contemplative, philosophical-leaning books.” If I read fiction, then I love that kind, but I tend to prefer a light read at the beach too, but then I throw in a memoir or nonfiction book or two because I can’t read too many fiction reads in a row. This year I read Big Fish by Daniel Wallace (good, quirky); My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (just okay for me, but a good beach read); Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz (fair, but a good beach read); When We Were Worthy (good beach read); Mud, Sweat, and Tears by Bear Grylls (loved it! — funny to read about a cold Everest Climb while sitting on the beach); and A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (a bit slow in parts, but interesting and sometimes quite funny).

  4. Jess says:

    I typically reread things on vacation. Since I prefer an actual, physical book, I usually only bring one and if it’s my only book on a trip it better be one I know I like! (Usually our trips are very physical with lots of hiking and canoeing and not so much reading so I can get away with only one book.)

    But, a super fun read that I just finished that would make excellent vacation reading is My Lady Jane. It was easy and light-hearted, perfect for a trip.

    • Katie says:

      I just ready My Lady Jane on a trip to Boston and LOVED it! (I’m assuming you are talking about the spoof novel.) The second one comes out soon and I can’t wait to read it.

      • Jess says:

        Yes! You can bet I am going to jump at the next one. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books so I am very interested to see what they do with it!

  5. Cathy Heine says:

    I was just thinking about this very issue and trying to decide what to take on our vacation. We leave on Saturday for a week-long cruise – with a lot of friends, fun, and activity.
    I’ve never gone on a vacation without a book – not since I was six years old! Recently I’ve been trying to read substantial magazines, National Geographic and Smithsonian to expand my mostly fiction reading habits. So I’m thinking I may just take magazines this trip. And even while I typed that I was thinking that I may slip in at least one book – maybe Curtis Sittenfeld’s short story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It.
    Thank you for a lovely blog! I always enjoy your thoughts – and your podcast!

    • Jess says:

      If you’re looking for substantial and intellectual, I highly recommend the recent Leonardo da Vinci biography. It’s quite fascinating, but at the same time totally readable. Be warned though, the book weighs a ton!

    • Brittany says:

      I’m not typically a non-fiction reader either. However, one “brand” of non-fiction I truly enjoy is journalistic non-fiction. It’s typically told with a strong narrative so it “feels” like fiction. Everyone I know seems to love Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken”. Jon Krakauer also writes truly engaging non-fiction – I found Missoula eye-opening. Happy Cruise-ing!

      • Christine says:

        I loved Missoula (well, found it heartbreaking, but so important and well done). I like nonfiction for non-solo trips because it gives you something to talk about with friends/family (that is perhaps more interesting to them than characters or plot points in a fictional world!).

      • Jan says:

        Ditto for Missoula. Truly eye-opening, important, and a heart-breaking subject. Jon Krakauer books are on my list TBR.

      • Lisa says:

        Completely agree on “Missoula”. I had two daughters in college when I read that and quickly passed it on to them. Also took them to see him on his Missoula book tour. Gripping and infuriating read.

  6. Kristian says:

    I read when we are driving somewhere, but nothing noticeably different than my usual fare. We don’t typically go on the type of trips where one is sitting back and has time to read, like a beach trip. It sounds nice and now that we have a baby, I imagine such type of trips might be more likely….

  7. Katie says:

    I’m currently slogging through Prairie Fires and hope to finish before my Alaskan cruise in two weeks. I’m reading it for the MMD challenge and also because I’ve never read a biography. I do find it interesting when I’m reading it, but a time or two I have considered DNF’ing it just because it’s going so slowly. Nevertheless I will press on to finish because it’s making me excited to read a lot of books on my vacation! I like to bring books that are fast reads – either because they’re short, fluffy, or because they’re page turners. This time I’m planning to bring my next Louise Penny book, some beach reads, and a YA book. I was hoping for My Plain Jane (Lady Janies #2), which I pre-ordered on Amazon, but even though it comes out next week, Amazon says I won’t get it until July 🙁

    • Nancy says:

      I worked my way through Prairie Fires too, and learned much about Ingalls’s life and career and about that era in our country. I and apparently many readers have mixed feelings about the book. There are a number of thoughtful and informative reviews on Goodreads. One, by Rana, made me laugh: “jesus wearing a sun bonnet, if I have to read anymore about Rose, I will poke my eyes out…” Ha!

      • Katie says:

        Oh gosh. I am so over Rose. I understand she was integral to her mother’s story. But my gosh. 100 pages could have been cut out! That’s probably an exaggeration, but it certainly feels like it. I have been enjoying learning about historical context of current events and other historical figures though.

      • Kelsey says:

        YES! I am a big LIW fan, and although I finished the book and learned a lot, I also felt like some of the information could have been cut… like many of the Rose details. I didn’t like her much by the end, I’m afraid, but I was happy to hear more about Almanzo.

    • Brittany says:

      If you like to read books set where you’re headed, Eowyn Ivey’s To the Bright Edge of the World is set in Alaska and is fantastic! I hope you have a fabulous time.

    • Ellen W says:

      I gave up on Prairie Fires half way through when it started feeling like work. I’ve got too many books from the library to read to get stuck on it, even if it won the Pulitzer.

  8. In the summertime, I lean toward summer books. I love good beach reads, even from the coziness of my favorite recliner at home. I am currently reading Same Beach Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank. It’s a first for me, by her, and I am loving it. I also love a great summer thriller, like my old favorite, Beach House by James Patterson. I love Nancy Thayer, Danielle Steel, and Colleen Hoover. Anything that makes me keep turning the pages. I am crazy picky about what I read, too, and if I don’t love it from chapter one, I put it down. I have time to read only what I love.

    Happy reading!

    • Heather says:

      I also put books down if they haven’t grabbed me early on. It drives one of my friends batty. She will stick with it until the bitter end even if she is hating every step of the way. lol So many books, too little time is my moto.

      • Robin says:

        I used to slog through to the very end of a book even if I hated it. Then I read a book written for readers (and right now I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it) and the author said he gives each book the “50 page rule.” If a book hasn’t grabbed you after 50 pages it’s not going to. It made me finally feel good about the fact that, after three attempts, I just didn’t like Tess of the D’Urbervilles and I put it down for good! I felt so relieved!

  9. Paula Wilding says:

    Only book nerds get the stress of what to take on vacation! When we are traveling by car, I will take a stack of various new books but this June, our family went to Italy and I knew I could not take a lot of books (I am mostly a hardcover gal) so I had to choose very wisely. After much deliberation, I came to the kill-two-birds-with-one-stone decision: only take books I loved and have been meaning to reread. With new books always coming out, the “reread pile” often gets ignored but I still look at it longingly. I have a near recurring nightmare of taking new books on a vacation that don’t work for me and then gasp! I am without something to read. So to have good things in hand that I know will not disappoint it a new must. This trip I took “The Book Thief” and “Lonesome Dove” with me, along with two smaller new books that I didn’t get to. I kind of like this new theory for the far away vacation — anyone else?

    • Jennifer Bubb says:

      I finally bought a copy of Lonesome Dove. Haven’t started it yet. Thought it could be too much for a poolside read but maybe not? I am considering adding it to my haul.

      • Rebekah in Redlands says:

        I think Lonesome Dove could work by the pool. I just finished it and mourn the years I spent only thinking about reading it, so I say don’t hesitate! (It did take about 400 pages for me to figure out that it was an important book.)

  10. Libby Miner says:

    A book a day! Wow! How fun. That stack is compelling.

    I usually take something that is entertaining and easy to pick up/put down and doesn’t require a lot of concentration. When I went to Paris recently I did choose a Paris-based book to round up my reading up on life in France. I read “Paris in Love,” a memoir/blog-type book by Eloisa James, an expat who lives/ed in Paris with her husband and children. It was fun to read about living in the City of Light while I was visiting it for the first time.

  11. Kate L. says:

    I rent a house in the mountains or by the beach every year for a week with my (grown) siblings and our parents. We are all readers and my sisters and I, especially, have similar tastes in books. So we send each other pictures of our book stacks before we leave so that we can avoid duplicates, and then we set out all the books on one shelf or on the fireplace mantel and set up a lending library for the week! We lean towards contemporary women’s fiction and thrillers/page turners. I sometimes throw in a memoir or interesting non-fiction book to mix it up. I also often save my Book of the Month and used bookstore finds, both to not be worried about a library book at the beach, but also because then I can send them home with my family at the end of the week to continue our bookswapping!

  12. Courtney says:

    I love this post! Talking summer travel reads is the best. Usually when we go away on a trip I like to either bring a book that complements the setting, like Four Seasons in Rome in Italy or a cozy novel during winter in Vermont, but I also really love to bring a page-turning read or a feel good read (combined in one book if possible) to just add to the enjoyable experience of traveling and to create a memory that will always be tied to the book and where/when I read it. It’s fun to take books you own so that you can hold onto the book you created a memory with but I am also someone who doesn’t hesitate to bring library books with me on vacation. 🙂 They’re meant to be read and well-loved!

  13. Victoria says:

    Love this post, which totally justifies the big thinking time I am giving to my vacation reads this year! I usually like to take books that I know I will enjoy – so probably by authors I know and love. But I also love to read books set in the place that I will be visiting….this year we are going to Scotland and I already have set aside Sophia’s Secret by Susanna Kearsley, At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen, and Rob Roy….I hope I will enjoy them because I do not know any of these authors so I am a little nervous (in a good way!)
    Please let me know any other Scotland-based novels? (I have already read and enjoyed Outlander!)

    • Meagan says:

      I really loved At The Water’s Edge when I read it a few years ago! I believe that Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner takes place in Scotland too! Enjoy your trip, it is such a lovely place to visit!

    • Robin says:

      Yes, The Bookshop on the Corner does take place in Scotland. It’s an enjoyable read. If you haven’t read Outlander it’s also a great Scottish read. Diana Gabaldon is a master researcher and weaves the history of Scotland beautifully into her storytelling.

    • Adrienne Hudson says:

      Hi Victoria! Many of Susanna Kearsley’s books are, I think, set in Scotland. I haven’t read Sophia’s Secret, but my favorite of hers is The Winter Sea. I’d also recommend Lady MacBeth by Susan Fraser King, a fictionalized account of Shakespeare’s Lady MacBeth. The Lowlands of Scotland series by Liz Curtis Higgs is good too. The first book in that series is Thorn in My Heart.

      • Victoria says:

        Thanks Adrienne,
        They are apparently the same book but released with different titles! Glad to hear good reviews of it 🙂 Thanks for your other ideas too….I’m looking them up now!

    • Katy Sammons says:

      Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles are so good that I read all six back to back, and then started over and read them through again!

  14. JenCanRead says:

    On vacation I like to read quick, setting-specific or seasonally-specific fiction. So for example, during my own beach vacation this year I read Everything I Never Told You (events start right before summer near a lake), Circe (a majority of the book is set on an island), and The Little Beach Street Bakery (set on an island in Cornwall). When I take my annual trip to the mountains in the fall I read books like The Night Circus and The Secret History.

    That being said, if Anne posts something that sounds amazing and comes up on a Kindle deal, I’ll generally jump on that regardless of when or where I am. 😀

  15. Linda Parvin Hutchinson says:

    This is the time that I read mostly books I REALLY have been excited to read and that don’t take up much “mind space.” In other words. light reading and romance reading. Books that you just read (think Jenny Colgan and Elin Hildebrand) that are pure escape fun. BTW, I tried the Book of Essie and it was a DNF for me. Your thoughts?

    • Anne says:

      I flew through The Book of Essie. I picked it up because I wanted to try it before I met with Annie, and it was easy enough to finish so I did. I think it helped that I went in with low expectations. I was intrigued by the living-your-life-in-public aspect more than the relationships in the book.

  16. Sarah says:

    I’ve been contemplating what I should take with me to the beach next month so this is timely for me. I’ll probably take a heftier non-fiction book for the car ride down, and something more fast-paced for the beach. I may also take that time to re-read a favorite.

  17. Hope says:

    My ideal vacation reading list includes an old favorite or two, plus a mix of mysteries and other fiction, plus a little not-too-deep non-fiction. Like Anne, I can do a book a day! If I’m traveling by plane, I just bring my Kindle. For travel by car, or just staying home, I do both my Kindle and actual books.

  18. Hi Anne – this is such an interesting question. When on vacation I don’t think I necessarily depart from my normal reading preferences – the main thing, as you mentioned, is to pack PLENTY. 🙂

  19. Natalie says:

    Like you I do a lot of planning about what books to take on beach vacations. They must be books that the husband and I will both be interested in reading (we’re flying when we go to the beach, can’t take 2 stacks of books); they have to be page-turners, nothing too deep or too long; always books from my own collection/TBR pile; and most importantly books that I know I’m only going to read once, and can leave behind at the end of the holiday for others to enjoy. The idea is that the suitcases will be lighter on the way home, but I generally find a book or two in trade that end up coming home with me.

  20. Jennifer Bubb says:

    We have a 13+ hour drive to get to our beach rental for the week. We usually leave before the sun comes up so I will definitely bring my kindle to read in the dark. I like to bring a paperback or two as well and leave what I finish at the rental house for future guests. I need something propulsive for vacation, something hard to put down (funny or mystery or memoir fit the bill). I plan to read “Sunburn”, “Tangerine” and “That Kind of Mother” this trip.

  21. Lori says:

    Our beach is a cabin in the woods of Mendocino. I spend mornings on the porch and evenings in the hammock reading fiction and non-fiction books that are easy to escape into. Some of my favorites have been Crazy Rich Asians, Monsters in Love, An American Marriage, Less and Straight Man.

    • Robin says:

      We also love to travel to Mendo and reading is the main activity! We usually stay at a B&B in town. I’ve got Crazy Rich Asians on my TBR list for this summer so I’m glad to see you liked it.

  22. Debbie says:

    My career was an elementary school children librarian. Summer vacations were spent reading adult books and new library additions. Now that I’m retired I read the same stuff on vacation or not on vacation. It is usually a mix of serious fiction, historical biography, and cozy mysteries, not many children’s books. Actually I tend to read less on our road trip vacations, too busy. This year we did visit Walnut Creek MN, location of the book On the Banks of Plum Creek. Now I want to read the Little House books again.

  23. Allison says:

    If I’m travelling abroad or somewhere new, I always love to read a novel that’s set in the destination where I am travelling. That being said – I’m heading to San Francisco in August, so any recommendations for SF-set novels are totally welcome 🙂

    (Anyone heading to Paris, on the other hand – I’m your girl for recommendations!)

    If I’m staying closer to home – camping at the lake, or at the beach – quicker, seasonal reads are my MO. For summer vacation reading, I always prefer reading books set in the summertime to feel more “immersed” in vacation mode. Mysteries – like Louise Penny & Tana French – are made for morning coffee, campfire-side! A book-a-day would be a most excellent vacation, in my humble opinion 🙂

    I’m a teacher-librarian with two more weeks of classes left – but I’ve been planning my vacation reading (and hoarding books!) probably since Spring Break… #bookwormlife

    • Ashley says:

      It’s kind of light reading but the Spellman Files books take place in San Francisco, I think there are 6 books in the series. It’s about a family of Private investigators. Not super-heavy or literary but I find them so much fun.

    • Robin says:

      If you like quick read cozies then the Bibliophile Mystery Series by Kate Carlisle are all set in and around San Francisco. They’re fun just for the quirkiness of her family and, since the protagonist, Brooklyn Wainwright, is a book binder I find the details she gives about restoring old books quite interesting.

  24. Melanie says:

    My vacation reading is similar too – probably slightly lighter than – my summer reading. There are two things I’ve learned about myself recently.

    1. If I have a long flight, I like to start a book a day or two before the trip. It can be hard to jump into a book if you’re stressed or distracted at the airport, but if I’m opening up a book that’s already hooked me it’s much easier to get into the reading zone.

    2. A week or so before a trip I’ll hop on my library’s Overdrive site, pull up my TBR list, and download whatever is immediately available. Often times I won’t go back and re-read the summaries of the books (if it’s on my TBR list I know I vetted it at one point), so I’m often completely surprised by what I end up reading. (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is my favorite example of this.)

  25. Brittany says:

    During the school year, I tend to read brain candy just to break up the workload. During vacation, I read books set wherever I’m headed (the Rockies this year!) and more literary books. I also save the long books for summer – Lonesome Dove is one of this year’s vacation reads.

  26. I generally stick to lighter fiction for a beach vacation, but have been known to read the classics for non-beach vacations. When we were at the beach in May, I read The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan and Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker. While Cork Dork is nonfiction, it was a quick and fun read.
    When we head to the beach again in August, I’m hoping to knock out a few books I already have, but haven’t read yet, like Tangerine by Christine Mangan, Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, and The Ensemble by Aja Gabel. But I always take a bunch of books plus my Kindle just to be prepared!

  27. I’m strictly a Kindle reader…almost 100% of the time, including vacation. For vacation, I want books that I don’t have to work very hard to get engrossed in…and that I can easily concentrate on amid chaos. Oh, and books that read relatively easy even if they cover heavy topics (Book of Essie was a recent example of this).

    I also have a tendency to “save” books I’m really looking forward to or have been meaning to get to for awhile for vacation…because having bad reading on vacation is somehow worse than having bad reading in normal life.

  28. Sheila Pallotta says:

    I know I’m ready for vacation when I start planning what books I will read. Clothes? Not so critical. I NEVER take library books on trips: I don’t want to be responsible for what might happen or where they might end up. For car trips or camping trips I will bring books from my shelves that I have meant to read. However, trips involving flights, international travel, or many days, I load up the Kindle app on my tablet from my ‘want to read’ list at the library.

  29. Emily says:

    I like light reads at the beach. I don’t want to cry or think hard. No difficult story lines to follow. The mountains are for those books. Last year, a girl beside me was readin The Nightingale ON THE BEACH!!! What?!?! That’s a NO.

  30. Meagan says:

    Anne, I love that you wrote this post because I have been thinking about what to read this summer for the past couple of weeks! I tend to spend a lot of the summer at my parents cottage and can read a book a day there if the book is right. I end up taking SO many books and then I find that I am distracted by books on Overdrive! This year I want to re-read/read for the first time all of the books in the Anne of Green Gables series (I should have done this last year for Canada 150! ope!), I have also had “S”, and Alexander Hamilton sitting on my shelf for a couple years now. I hope that this will be the summer for them. I always read Nancy Drew mysteries, case files and Super Mysteries growing up, so a good page turner/thriller is always a good thing. I have been loving the Gabriel Allon series and I have a bunch more to read so I think I will be bringing them as well. It is just so difficult to narrow the “list” down. I usually take a couple large tote bags filled with books, plus the books in the different book apps on my ipad!

  31. Liza says:

    I scan my shelves before I leave and pick what I’m in the mood for. I try to bring a longer book or two if possible since I read so quickly. We were on vacation week before last and I accidentally picked up book 2 of a series instead of book 1. And not having read either book before, I had to go without reading anything.
    Then to make my vacation reading life more miserable, I found a little free library next to my hotel – the day before we left. I could have had something to read after all! I did pick up a hymnal from the LFL – I have a collection of old ones and this one was published in 1967 and in pristine condition! That made up for my lack of reading throughout the week. 🙂

  32. Lee Ann says:

    My husband and I usually plan vacations where we are pretty busy all the time, so I do most of my reading on the plane. I can read in the car, but if there is interesting scenery I don’t want to be so engrossed that I miss a beautiful view.
    Even on a long plane flight, I tend to reread a favorite book (Tolkien, Austen, Heyer, that sort of thing). That way I don’t feel guilty if I fall asleep mid-page!
    One trip that was an exception was a trip we took to Wales with the members of my husband’s a capella choir, De Profundis. We designed a bus tour, so I had time when traveling from place to place to do a little reading. I remember reading two new-to-me Heyers, Bath Tangle (meh) and A Civil Contract (now one of my favorites).
    I rarely bring physical books with me except for a guidebook. Everything else is on my Kindle.

  33. Carolyn says:

    I love to read books that are in a series! I will either read them on my Kindle or in paperback (preferably), from book 1 as far as I can get through the series.
    Or longer books that I can plow though over a day or two.
    Favorites are Rosamunde Pilcher, Susan Wiggs, Kristin Hannah.

    • Anne says:

      My daughter just blitzed a series on vacation. I didn’t bring a series along myself, but it was fun to watch someone else enjoying one!

  34. Hannah Rodewald says:

    I read the Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. It was good but not as good as The Poisonwood Bible. Instead of reading it at the beach I wish I had read it on our back porch next to woods with all the sounds of the woods creatures. Read Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I think she is by far the best TV writer ever but the book is repetitive and gets tedious. I did like the theme of it very much though. And I read The Silent Wife, which is the typical beach book. Some twists and turns leave you wondering at the end what actually happened.

  35. Brittany says:

    I have had one staycation already this summer and I have another one in the end of July. I live in Maine so I am lucky that I can still go to the beach. I generally prefer to read page turners while I am on staycation or vacation. This usually means a mystery/thriller or a women’s fiction. Some recent favorite page turners were The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson! Also I prefer paperbacks that I can just throw in a bag and don’t take up much room.

  36. Dana Kumerow says:

    In May we took a week vacation to Pawley’s Island SC. I had to spend part of the time working on last minute revisions for my own book. I did have time to read a coupe of books, though. On vacation I like page turners. I read The Lying Game by Ruth Ware, which definitely fit the bill. I also read Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase. Loved it! Reminded me of Kate Morton’s writing.

  37. Terri Torrez says:

    I try to take a variety because I never know what I’ll be in the mood for. At least one personal development book (because I have time to think). At least one literary fiction. And then lots of YA, mystery, thriller, magical realism, etc. I prefer paper books but if I’m flying and luggage is tight I mostly do Kindle books on my phone. And I do take library books to the pool. I’d rather take the chance on having to pay for one damaged book but than to buy all of them. Though timing books to come in before vacation but not expire on vacation can be a challenge.

    • Anne says:

      I love that you point out that you choose books knowing that you “have time to think” on vacation—I really relate to this feeling, with the vacation and the reading I do during.

  38. Terri Torrez says:

    Also my husband and I are taking a “bookcation” at the end of the summer. It’s a surprise for his birthday – 4 days involving Manhattan book stores and cafes, Central Park and a hotel room with a balcony hot tub. Can’t wait!

  39. Sarah Christy says:

    I like variety during a vacation read. A fuffy novel or two plus something more thoughtful..Generally a memoir or nonfiction that is spiritually thoughtful…for those times I want to sit and ponder things slowly. Will be spending 3 days near Rocky Mountain Natl Park so my plan is morning walk/drive in mountains, back to condo to read then dinner out….just me and hubby. (with handicapped son plus other kids/grandkids) we rarely get away alone. oops forgot the audiobooks to get us there and back…mystery. Think I’ll check out Louise Penny haven’t read any of hers and everyone seems to like them.

  40. Dawn says:

    I load audiobooks for a long flight and listen with noise-cancelling headphones. What a lifesaver that combination is for an over-the-ocean trip! Once I am actually on vacation though, its very little reading and lots of fun.

  41. Diana says:

    I mostly do favorite rereads on vacation, largely books I own. I like to read books about the destination pre-trip (or just beachy reads before beach vacations) and then known favorites while we are gone. It seems every time I’ve taken a new book on a trip I end up not liking it and then I’m stuck with it because we’re always tight on packing space. So beloved rereads it is!

  42. Robin says:

    I like to read paper books when I can but if I’m going to be gone a long time I’ll pile up my Kindle. I was in Texas for a month to help my daughter with a new baby and I brought three papers and the Kindle. I got through two papers and one on the Kindle. Turns out that all the reading time I imagined having disappeared into thin air! We have one road trip this summer so I’ll probably bring the pile of used books I’ve got sitting here. They are of every genre but, since we’re driving and not flying this time, I can put them all in the car. I’ll also bring the Kindle because I keep much loved favorites stored there as well as on my shelf – just in case.

  43. Julia R. says:

    I typically pack whatever’s next on my TBR list, but if I have several to choose from I will lean towards lighter reads or page-turners over anything non-fiction or deep. I always take actual books and am not afraid to bring a library book on a trip. I also gravitate more toward older titles that have been recommended or are tried and true vs. new releases. My favorite vacation reads over the years have been one vacation when I read through three of Sarah Addison Allen’s magical books and one fall staycation when I read Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours on a dark and stormy day!

  44. Crystal says:

    I’m amazed how many of you bring physical books! I’m a fast reader and carry-on-only flyer, so my shoulders insist on Kindle. I like the built-in light for comfortable reading and if my husband’s asleep. I also like having a wide selection so I can read whatever is catching my fancy, which depends on the trip — I stock up on whatever sounds interesting at the time. Car or plane, we usually take a few audiobooks too — these must be humorous or engaging since we’re often tired on travel days.

  45. Kelsey says:

    I think I’m probably an anomaly here, but I’ve been known to take decidedly un-fluffy reads on vacation. I remember one year reading “Without You There is No Us” by Suki Kim (it’s a non-fiction work about North Korea). I always throw my paperback copy of Donald Miller’s “Through Painted Deserts” in my carry-on since it’s been my tried and true traveling favorite since I was a teen. My husband is in the Navy so most of our trips are to visit our families (we’re in Hawaii while our families are in South Dakota and Michigan), and I have no qualms about borrowing my mom or mother-in-law’s library card while we’re visiting- they’re both readers so they understand :)… and that way I don’t have to carry too many books across the ocean and back!

  46. Fiona says:

    I always buy some paperbacks second hand to bring on a trip in case they get left behind or fall in the water. I like mysteries, but will sometimes bring a romance or biography as well. Maybe a re-read as well – an Agatha Christie, or a children’s book. I don’t read a lot of YA but if you like YA Romance, try When Dimple Met Rishi. If you have never read an Agatha Christie, start with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

  47. Tammy says:

    1. A children’s classic (Think Anne, Laura, Nancy or Harry)
    2. A cozy (Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, or Agatha Raisin)
    3. A Bible study
    4. A nonfiction pick, or more, from my TBR list. (The latest from Sarah Mackenzie and Jennifer Fulwiler)
    5. A title from a favorite series (Miss Read’s Fairacre series)

    The Kindle all day,every day!

    • Heather says:

      Fairacre is my favorite place to escape to when I need to slow down a bit in life. I don’t know many people who know about Miss Read so I always recommend her. I read the whole series at least once a year. I also have my used bookstore owner on the lookout for them. I own a couple of them now but not nearly the whole set.

  48. Lesley says:

    Was it here on Modern Mrs Darcy last year that I read about taking reading vacations? An unsuccessful reading staycation last summer gives me all the reason to plan a cruise or something where I can read away in bliss. I’ll pack one mammoth read with other fun reads on my list.

  49. Jillian says:

    Great question! Typically I take whatever is next on my list. I read a lot more non-fiction these days, and the last 3 trips I took I mostly read non-fiction: memoirs and science history. I try to read my books about a place before I leave for the trip. Definitely real books, unless I’m flying, in which case I may bring one, but mostly kindle books. We are going to Maine this week, I have several books for research, a non fiction books – memoir and history again, and our latest book club pick. 🙂

  50. Jacelyn says:

    I bring at least 3 or more books on a week long trip to the beach. I usually have one that I plan on reading, but if I finish quickly or am not into it I want to have options.
    Since our week at the beach is usually lazy and relaxing (as opposed to an amusement park or exploring a new destination) I do things a bit differently than many people on summer vacation. I like to bring a bigger or more challenging book with me to tackle. Since my husband is with me I get more time to myself away from the kids and get longer periods of time to read than a usual day at home.
    This year I plan to read Northanger Abbey (my final Austen!) and Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (I’ll be at the Jersey Shore :)). Last year I finished Emma by Jane Austen, a biography on John Quincy Adams, and 11/22/63.
    Throughout the year I generally get my books from the library. For vacation, I buy my books in case I forget them at my destination or get them wet and I want to be sure my chosen book is available (as opposed to depending on the library wait list).

  51. Melissa Wiebe says:

    Usually I will read lighter fare and usually paperbacks that I own. I do bring library books but usually they end up being ebooks.

  52. Cath says:

    When we go to the cottage in PEI, I like to pack one non-fiction, one classic, and 3-4 novels that I’ve been meaning to read all year. That way I have a delicious mix of quick and slow, long and short, beach and evening-with-a-drink-on-the-porch reads. delicious!

  53. rebecca says:

    Sadly, vacation is when I get the least reading done these days. I have a 1 and 3 year old and they are lots of work on vacation. So I usually get nothing read on vacation! Looking forward to when they’re older so I can get back into it. When I used to read on vacation, it was more ‘fluffy’ than what I usually read. I find it hard to concentrate on the beach when it’s hot and sticky and when there are a lot of travel-related interruptions.

  54. Linda Hanna says:

    In May, I gather all the books I want to read for the summer. They are always from my TBR shelf and older titles that I’ve been wanting to get to. This is my “catch-up” time. I rarely read new books in the summer. My one exception was Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone, which I loved. Others on my list are Rules of Civility; The Girls With All the Gifts; The Boys in the Boat; The Husband’s Secret (already read, and loved); Fahrenheit 451 (finally); Sleeping Giants; Elizabeth is Missing; Under the Banner of Heaven; Still Life(Louise Penny- my first);The Dry(already read, gruesome but good); My Name is Lucy Barton (finished, liked, didn’t love);and Cutting for Stone.

    • Anne says:

      I love the visual I’m getting here: I’m picturing a glorious stack of books all piled up and waiting for you to read all summer long. 🙂

  55. Carolin from Germany says:

    Dear Anne,
    I would love a post about travel reading with different categories: novels set on the beach, in the rain forest, on islands, in Italy, South America, at a lake, in the mountains… anything you can think of that might enhance a trip as well as the book.
    Agatha Christie’s A Carribean Mystery is perfect for holidays on a Carribean Island. I also tried R. L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island but had to abandon it.
    Even when I stay home I like “travelling” through novels. I’ll jump on anything set in London (Cormoran Strike, A Darker Shade of Magic, Sherlock Holmes, Dickens…). Does anyone have tips for Oxford, Cambridge and Scotland?

      • Victoria says:

        Yes, I loved all of those instagram posts last year…and just recently went on a long back-scrolling session to see whether there had been a Scotland edition, but couldn’t find one. (I seem to remember that there was one though….) This summer we’re going sailing on the Scottish lochs in the Highlands and I’m gathering books to accompany me 🙂

  56. Ruthie says:

    Following are my recommendations — in handy list form! — for those seeking book suggestions.

    Essay collections, short story collections + other books with stand-alone chapters:
    any of Jonathan Franzen’s;
    Anne Fadiman’s (especially Ex Libris);
    Sleeping at the Starlite Motel (Bailey White);
    Mama Makes Up Her Mind (Bailey White)
    Nora Ephron’s;
    Gulp (Mary Roach);
    But Enough About Me (Jancee Dunn);
    American On Purpose (Craig Ferguson);
    Au Revoir to All That (M. Steinberger);
    On Friendship: An Exposé (Joseph Epstein… keep your dictionary handy!);
    any Sherlock Holmes collection;
    How to Read a Novel Like a Professor (Dr. Thomas Foster);
    Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Lynn Truss);
    French or Foe (Polly Platt).

    Biographies and memoirs to be read as a whole:
    A Kentish Lad (Frank Muir);
    Growing Up + The Good Times (Russell Baker);
    Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory +
    The Thanksgiving Visitor (both of which I read and enjoyed in the summertime);
    Julia Child: My Life In France;
    A Feast Made for Laughter (Craig Claiborne);
    The Making of a Chef (Michael Ruhlmann);
    One Writer’s Beginnings (Eudora Welty);
    The Egg and I (Betty MacDonald)
    An English Year (Nan Fairbrother);
    any of Willie Morris’s four memoirs;
    See You in a Hundred Years (Logan Ward);
    Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer (Warren St. John);
    Gift From the Sea (Anne Morrow Lindbergh);
    The Delany Sisters: Having Our Say.

    Fiction:
    Some Tame Gazelle (Barbara Pym… ATTENTION, JANE AUSTEN FANS!);
    Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte);
    To Serve Them All My Days (R.F. Delderfield);
    A Room With a View (E.M. Forster);
    Old Herbaceous (Reginald Arkell – out of print);
    Puddinhead Wilson, Prince & Pauper, and/or Connecticut Yankee (all by Mark Twain);
    Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift);
    any of Ferroll Sam’s autobiographical fiction;
    The Education of Little Tree (Forrest Carter);
    Cold Sassy Tree + Leaving Cold Sassy (Olive Anne Burns);
    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café (Fannie Flagg);
    Ellen Foster + A Virtuous Woman (Kaye Gibbons);
    The Accidental Tourist (Anne Tyler);
    the author Miss Read’s two soothing and suitable-for-YA series about everyday life in two Cotswald villages.

  57. Sheree says:

    I’m a die-hard paperback reader, so no e-readers for me! That makes space a slight limitation for me, especially if I’m only packing carry-on 😉 I actually don’t tend to read any differently on holidays than I would at home – e.g., on my honeymoon, I took with me Dracula, The Divine Comedy, and Jane Eyre (all of which had been on my TBR for ages). Basically, I’ll just look at my usual stack and pick a handful to pack – regardless of where I’m going or for how long hahaha.
    I’m also with you on visiting bookstores on holiday (and making a few sneaky treat-yo-self purchases) – it’s my favourite part of visiting a new city! I make a point of visiting independent secondhand bookstores where I can, they’re so much fun and I love supporting them. <3

  58. On vacation I want a good novel (or three) that I can trust will not disappoint. It has to be well-written with compelling characters and a plot that keeps me turning the pages. If there’s a book I am especially looking forward to reading, I will tuck it away for vacation. Last year that was Lilli de Jong (by Janet Benton) a wonderful work historical fiction about a Quaker single mother in 19th century Philadelphia, which is coming out in paperback this summer. (Paperback is better, but not a deal-breaker for me.) This year it’s Did You Ever Have a Family. I generally save Ann Patchett for vacation, also Gail Godwin. And I’m a sucker for geographical reads: in London it was The Autobiography of Henry VIII with Notes by His Fool, Will Somers: A Novel. In Venice it was one of the Donna Leon mysteries. In South Carolina, anything Pat Conroy.

  59. I like fast paced novels for vacation. Usually there are plenty of distractions because I’m reading in public and watching the kids too, so I don’t want to have to think too hard. I recently read “I Found You” and for me, this is my perfect type of vacation read!

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