Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vacation reading

Choosing books to bring on vacation is a serious deliberation for me. They have to be hefty enough to last me being stranded for seven hours in Amsterdam. They have to be engaging enough that I can block out the giggling girls, two in one seat, in front of me. The best ones are so compelling that I'm happy my fight is overseas, so I'll have time to read the entire book cover to cover.

Books by authors I've read before, books highly recommended by friends/trusted bloggers, and adult books are usually what I choose. Adult books feel a bit like vacation reading already, because I usually read (and study!) children's literature. Also I can't read adult literature in under two hours, so each book lasts longer (thus less baggage).

I was in a bit of a panic for my most recent trip. I had chosen:

CASE HISTORIES: A NOVEL by Kate Atkinson (recommended by a writing friend)
THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS by N K Jemisin (recommended by The Booksmugglers)
FLYAWAY by Lucy Christopher (author of STOLEN, which I LOVED).

Unfortunately the Jemisin fantasy and the Christopher book arrived at the library too late for me to pick them up. I had only the Atkinson. I rushed to the bookstore and managed to find Sarah Water's FINGERSMITH (I enjoyed THE LITTLE STRANGER and had wanted to read another of her books). I had recently started a children's book which I knew I wouldn't finish by the time I left and brought that as well.

Then I got lucky. I was searching my local library's website for something, and discovered they have a service called Clipper Audio. I can "check out" audio books as mp3s on my home computer. Incredible, huh? I'm not a big audio book fan, but I thought it would be perfect for the trip. I downloaded BETWEEN TWO SEAS by Marie Louise Jensen (a former Bath Spa graduate!) onto my iPod.

BETWEEN TWO SEAS is lovely. It's actually narrated by Jensen herself. She does all the voices, some of which are in English, some in Danish, some in French, and all sound unique. Plus, it takes place right on the coast, so as I walked Punta's coastline, I was easily transported to Denmark.

I discovered an audio book to be my perfect travel companion. I could block out the airport noise around me and didn't even need to carry a book. A definite must for my next trip.

Oh, and final assessment? FINGERSMITH was excellent, I enjoyed it even more than LITTLE STRANGER. The children's book was meh, but perhaps that's because it's a sequel to a book I haven't read, so it was hard to get into. I'm still in the early pages of the Atkinson.

What about you? What types of books do you travel with?

*The image is mine, another beach shot. The black dots, if you can see them, are surfers.


  1. Fingersmith is wonderful..the perfect book to be stranded with.
    I just survived an airport delay (3 hours at Madrid) with a top ten best-selling thriller. So disappointing..the plot creaked and the writing was so tired and unambitious. It annoyed me as I turned the pages - but it did the job of filling three hours.
    I'm saving Wolf Hall for the next time I have a holiday - although I'm not sure how I'll transport it.

  2. Yes, Fingersmith is a great book to be stranded with! It amazes me that Waters' books are so beautifully written, and so long, yet they're complete page turners.

    It's terrible to end up traveling with a bad book--I think that's why I've become so obsessive about this!

    I once traveled overseas with Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I had to hold it because it was too big to fit in my carry on. One flight attendant even commented that at least I wouldn't run out of reading material. It was really silly big, but it was compelling, so I guess in the end it was worth it.

  3. First, regardless of the audio book, I must travel with 2% chocolate milk and Pizza flavored Combos, but I digress...

    For me I prefer horror thrillers and comedies, like World War Z or Confederacy of Dunces. Maybe because these books never feel like work, and after all, I'm on vacation.

    theBrad(verla tag)

  4. he-he-he. I did decide after this flight that never again would I travel without snacks.

    You're absolutely right about needing fun books, Brad. I've tried to take a few more serious, I-should-read-this type books on vacation and it never happens. Nor, of course, should it.

    Thanks for stopping by!


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