21 January 2012

One does not need 2,800 pages for 12 days

   
Me not buying books at Talk Story on the island of Kaua'i.
(More on that later.)
It will be no surprise to any of you, either because of my previous idiocy, or because of your own habits, but I tend to pack way too much to read when I travel.  Believe me, I never actually think I am going to read so much in two weeks that I need 2,800 pages of reading, but I do worry that I won't have the variety of reading material to satisfy the unknown reading whims that may crop up while away from home. I mean what would happen if I were to get bored with the book I am reading and I still have four or five hours of flying time? That would be awful.

So for 8 days in Hawaii and 4 days in San Francisco I decided I needed:

The Flight From the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch (read all 286 pages)
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (read 359 of 521 pages)
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (read 5 of 860 pages)
All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (read 0 of 609 pages)
Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (read 0 of 307 pages)
According to Mark by Penelope Lively (read 0 of 217 pages)

It is true that the complexity of the Rushdie slowed me down considerably. If I had moved on to the Lipman and the Lively after the Murdoch, I would no doubt have read more. Still, the next time I contemplate carrying around 2,800 pages in my carry-on bag (over 6 legs of flying) I need to remind myself of the following:

1. Unless I am travelling to a non-English speaking country, I don't need to pack my entire library.

2. If the longest single flying leg is only five hours, I really don't need six books to ward off possible boredom with any one tome. Two books of different style or content would be enough variety for that long of a flight. I can always fall back on listening to music, looking at trashy magazines, watching movies, sleeping, eating, and talking to John.

3. It might actually be fun to have read something I found at one of the five great bookstores I visited while we travelled.

4. John and I are usually active enough that I don't have hours and hours and hours of reading time. Even on the two week trips to Maine I don't usually have as much reading time as I think I am going to.

5. If worse came to worse and I ran out of things to read I could alwasy download something on my iPad. But really hate reading in that format, so I will never not take actual books on a trip.

Many travel and reading related posts coming in the days ahead. I can't believe it is January 21st and I am only now making my first blog post of the year.

18 comments:

  1. Has the time come for an e-reader?-on my Ipad I can load in about 4000 books-nothing beats it for travel

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  2. I always tell myself that running out of books to read is an excellent excuse for buying another book or three :) Although now that I have an e-reader, the whole question is moot.

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  3. Welcome home! I'm with you - I've never once "under-packed" books on a trip. And no, the time will never come for me for an e-reader. :)

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  4. Yikes, I always do this! Pack a dozen books, because I'm afraid I just won't like the one I'm reading, and then I end up only reading one or two. Adds a lot to the luggage weight, too.

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  5. Priceless! I love your bookish idiocy. I have a clear visual of you tugging the bag of books about. Am laughing. And friend, your idea of vacation reading is hardly escapist here. Am laughing some more.

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  6. I once underpacked books when I was in sixth grade on a road trip from Maine to Iowa and back. I believe I just re-read a book on the way back. I mean, what else can you do, with a limited allowance that I'd already mostly spent on souvenirs from Amish stores in Iowa.

    Every since then, I've mostly overpacked books. There was this one time that I packed exactly the right amount of books though and I felt kind of awesome.

    Glad to see a post pop up from you and I'm sure some great photos are in store for future posts.

    - Christy

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  7. You are hilarious! That is just about what I do. Almost panic at the thought of not having enough diversity in my reading material whilst traveling. I travel with my fully loaded Kindle, iPad, and a book--nuts. Enjoy your trip.

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  8. I always overpack books too (at least one fiction (or even one light & one "serious"), one non-fiction, one poetry (usually an anthology), one book of British cryptic crosswords, and often the last issue of the Journal of the American Musicological Society. And then, almost always end up buying books on the trip. An eReader isn't the answer for aesthetic reasons, but also is entirely impractical when public pools or beaches are involved.

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  9. I do the opposite and underpack: I only ever take one book for the flight, and then leave it behind on the plane, and rely on serendipity to provide me with books to read. It works well, because the excitement of finding a book (invariably a vintage Penguin) becomes intertwined with the memory of the holiday.

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  10. I have to laugh a this post - overpacking books is my tendency, too. We went to Florida earlier this month and I took your advice... read Where Angels Fear to Tread in the sun. I did improve the experience :-)

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  11. i panic about which book to take on a trip.I put off reading certain books because i know they are perfect for the plane.I discuss my selections with my brother &repack again.I also pick books for my husband &now have Kindle fire.Last trip 3hrs to Seattle my Kindle large mystery book for husband &extra book for me&that was light.Also i love to ship books home from different bookstores Elliot bay seattle favorite.So all in all books most important clothes second &i love clothes.

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  12. I'm with Karyn. Call me nosy but I spend every minute of a trip drinking in everything! I brought Sense and Sensibility with me to London last September and only managed a handful of pages.

    Lovely to hear from you, Thomas!

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  13. I love Karyn's comment about new book finds intertwining with the memory of a holiday. I should remember this lesson the next time I pack for a trip!!

    But I probably won't -- I'm with you, I'm in mortal fear of being stuck on a plane with nothing to read, or having to buy something terrible at an airport shop. I'm always reminded of my friend Amanda and her return from the Book Blogger Convention a couple of years ago -- after receiving a huge stack of books FOR FREE and sending them home via UPS, her flight was delayed and she finished the book in her carryon even before she got on the plane! Ironically, she ended up having to buy another book in the airport. (It was a good book, but she was so annoyed at the situation).

    And I went on a four-day holiday over New Year's and brought three books totaling more than 1700 pages, though one was in progress. (Plus I bought four new books and got one in a book exchange). This was not a bad thing because my return flight was delayed and I missed my connection and had to spend ANOTHER night in a hotel in Houston. So there you go.

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  14. Hahah, love this post. Have to say I'm completely with you in the fear of running out of things to read. It happened to me once as an 8 year old and I ended up trying to plough my way through Anthony Trollope (my father's staple holiday readng) to pass the last 3 hours of a ferry trip

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  15. When it comes to the packing of books, I always pack too much. Except, I do take a lot of road trips which makes it a bit easier to cart them around than say... on a plane.

    Can't wait to hear all about your trip.

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  16. I find books on holiday become a bit of a security blanket and try to pack so that only one or two will remain unread - but then there are all the books I tend to buy when I'm away. It's a bad habit but I probably have worse...

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  17. Don't worry, Thomas... all of us book bloggers do this, I am sure. During a good reading spree, I probably read a book every 3 to 5 days, and yet whenever I go on a week-long vacation, I bring something like 5 books. And of course I pretty much never read any of them. I suppose it's instances like this when I appreciate having an ereader since it's so much more forgiving of my folly!

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  18. I've done the embedded comment reply thingy, but nothing happens when I hit the reply button. So I guess I will do it the old fashioned way down here at the bottom.

    Mel: I don't think I will ever want an e-reader.

    Teresa: I still bought plenty of books. Never need an excuse for that. Plus I am doing the TBR Dare so I could buy but couldn't read anything purchased along the way.

    Susan: We are two peas in a pod.

    Jeane: Our checked bags were already at the limit (having to pack for two different climates) so all the books were in my carry-on. Which I suppose also made the back-up books available on the flights.

    Frances: I need to add more escapist reading in general. I wonder how much of it I might have in my TBR Dare pile...



    Christy: Wow. Iowa to Maine without anything to read would be brutal.

    Kim: Not only do I not like e-readers in general, but I find that my iPad is exacerbating my tennis elbow!

    Steve: Your reading diversity parameters are much broader than my own. I generally just try to make sure I have a few bits of fluff available in case everything else bores me.

    Karyn: I might try that one day. Maybe this summer when we head up to Maine. I have many books that remind me of where I was when I read them--Like She's Come Undone in 1997 (?) in the Place des Vosges in Paris.

    JoAnn: I am glad you got to read WAFTT in the sun. I have such a soft spot for that book. sigh.

    Rhonda: I shipped home books from two different stores in San Francisco. Can't wait until they arrive.

    Darlene: I find a book helps slow me down when sightseeing. For instance I will take my book and sit down in a cathedral or on a pretty hillside. It allows me to look up ever so often and look at the lovely scene that I might have otherwise rushed through.

    Karen K: I think buying something at an airport might actually be good for me. I hardly ever read any new fiction these days. Might be a good chance to try.

    Verity: Trollope at 8 years old. Did it put you off of him?

    Ti: You should see how many I take when we take a road trip! Plus I add a lot along the way.

    Hayley: I used to take along copies that I didn't mind leaving behind, but these days I don't like leaving anything behind.

    Steph: I guess we are all afraid of being without something good to read. It makes all of our good judgement fly out the window.

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