Choosing which books to bring is normally one of the harder things about planning a vacation. That’s under normal circumstances. This year, it’s been even worse. Why? Because I can’t take more than 2 (two!) books with me. And if I do see a bookstore along the way, I can’t go in and buy anything. All because my boyfriend and I have decided to spend our vacation time hiking around the Swedish and Norwegian wilderness. That means we’ll have to carry everything around with us in our backpacks, and let me tell you, 12 days worth of food takes up a lot of room. It also means that the books I decide to bring will probably get roughed up a bit. So I’ve decided to take books with me that are, first of all, not the heaviest reading (it’s a vacation, after all) and second, that I probably won’t be too upset about creasing. A mean thing to say, I know. Don’t tell them.
So far, I’ve picked Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. I’ve come across it several times in the past few years, but the main character is a Russian agent, and I don’t really like detectives and crime fiction. However, it was long listed for the Man Booker Award; the first thriller to be on that list, as far as we know (the lists weren’t always public). I know that makes me sound like a big ol’ snob, but I have generally enjoyed the Man Booker books I’ve read, so why not use that as a kind of guide? I’ve tried to read other thrillers or crime books that made big commercial splashes and found them to be tedious and silly. So here’s hoping this one got that “nomination” for a reason and is as thrilling as they say.
My other pick I’m even more uncertain about. I know very little about it and the user reviews on various sites are mixed, which has kept me from buying it sooner. But I came across it randomly in a store, so I figured I might give it a go. It’s California by Edan Lepucki. Unlike Child 44, California is one of my favorite genres; post-apocalyptic fiction. That’s about all I know and I have no expectations going in. Hopefully that’ll mean a pleasant surprise.
No, of course I can’t go on three week vacation with only two books. Sure, we’ll be hiking a lot, but also hanging out in the tent, going on very very long train and bus rides, plane rides etc. Two books would never suffice. Maybe if one of them were The Stand by Stephen King or something (I’m still 13 hours away from finishing that audio book). So I’ll have to load up a bunch of other books on my Kindle. I’m thinking Anthony Doerr – All the Light We Cannot See, John Irving – A Prayer for Owen Meany, Flannery O’Connor – Complete Stories and maybe another thriller like Paula Hawkins – The Girl on the Train. There’s no telling what I’ll feel like reading, so it’s good to have choices.
How many books do you usually bring when traveling? Do you mind lugging around numerous paperbacks or do you just bring the Kindle, iPad, whatever? And do you, like me, often return home with way more books than you brought? I probably won’t this year.