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.