22 February 2014

Am I really taking 15 books to Hawaii?

In a word: no maybe.

But you can bet I will be taking far more than I need to take for ten days. I will probably end up taking nine in total. When I travel I like to take editions that I don't mind getting damaged or leaving behind. So the pile of mass market books on the right is all likely to go--except I will only take one of the V.S. Naipaul novels--so that is eight books right of the bat. And I'll take at least one of the trade paperbacks, more likely two. Except while I was just typing that sentence I thought "What if I took them all?" Hawaii is easy to pack for, I can carry this many books. I realize this makes me certifiable. But my normal tendency to worry about not having a good selection of books on a trip is amplified because of my recent difficulties finding things I want to read. It was that same worry that made me decide to add the trade paperbacks. I thought I might need something more contemporary to break any potential logjams created by the pile of ratty old vintage paperbacks.

The thing about this vacation is that John will be working for half of it. He has a conference in Honolulu for the first part of the trip that will keep him busy during the day and in the evening as well. So I will have lots of time to myself. And even though I lived in Honolulu from 1995 to 1997, I know very few people there.  Plenty of time to read. And, our flight from DC is almost 11 hours non-stop. Usually we connect in San Francisco which breaks up the flying time.

So let me break it down.

In a Free State - V.S. Naipaul OR
The Mimic Men - V.S. Naipaul
My experience with Naipaul has been a bit mixed. In my younger days I found him a little dry and somewhat challenging to read, but there was something about his books I liked. More recently, in 2006, I read A House for Mr Biswas and found the experience more enjoyable. I think I am also drawn to him because his books take me out of the US and the UK. My reading can be dangerously limited geographically.

The Black Tulip - Alexandre Dumas
I've had this one for a while. His other books have been quite quick and enjoyable reads despite being a gazillion pages each. This one is short and about tulip industry intrigue. I have high hopes for it.

Sweet Danger - Margery Allingham
There is something about a trip that makes me think I should take along a green Penguin. Maybe because they are mystery/thrillers and most people find those escapist and good vacation reads. I don't necessarily feel that way, but am going to try again nonetheless. The last time I read a green Penguin (The China Governess also by Allingham) I was also on vacation. Although now that I say that, I did read one late last year (Nest of Vipers by Tod  Claymore) and didn't really enjoy it. So then my twisted thought process moves to "Well, if I get this one out of the way it will no longer clog up my TBR."

Heritage - Vita Sackville-West
Her first novel. Expecting to enjoy this one.

Those Barren Leaves - Aldous Huxley
For me there are two Aldous Huxleys. The one who writes books I have enjoyed Point Counter Point, Brave New World, Chrome Yellow) and the one who writes books that I had too hard a time getting into (Antic Hay). I'm hoping this one falls into the former category. If not, another one off mys shelves.

Under the Volcano - Malcolm Lowry
I have read the first hundred or so pages of this TWICE. For some reason, despite taking my 'life is too short' pledge a while back, I am going to start this one over and see if I can't make it all the way through. If I try and it is a no go, I will forever remove it from my TBR.

Scarred - Monica Dickens
I know I should love Persephone author Dickens, but I am not sure that I do. And I am not even positive this is the same Monica Dickens. We will see.

The Groves of Academe - Mary McCarthy
I loved The Group and am excited read something else by McCarthy. I only paid 48 cents for this ratty copy yet it is the one book in this pile I am somewhat anxious to leave behind while travelling. I don't see her titles around much and I begin to think maybe I have the last existing copy.

When it comes to the trade paperbacks I only know that everyone seemingly loved Ella Minnow Pea and I am a little intrigued to find out how he does it; I tend to love Meg Wolitzer; and Mary Gordon has given me some good reading moments. Don't know anything about the other two, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will be annoyed by the Ellis.


  1. I too never managed to get very far in UNDER THE VOLCANO. Let me know if you crack it. Safe travels, and enjoy Hawaii!

  2. Hahaha, this makes me feel so much better about myself. I've taken 7 books plus my Nook "just in case" for a week long vacation, so I totally know the feeling. I'm a very fickle/mood based reader and ending up in a situation without a book that fits that mood would be a disaster. I need a little mini library. Your selection looks perfectly appropriate!

  3. That is the same Monica Dickens but one of her last books. It just wasn't that satisfying to me but as you have mixed feelings about her anyway, maybe the older version of the author might suit you better?

    An unqualified YES! for Vita and Alexandre!

    Naipaul on vacation? Are you sure? When do you leave? I can drop off Provence, 1970 and maybe that Sadie Jones I told you about that was so much fun - The Uninvited Guests.

  4. The bookstores at the airport in San Francisco are very good, you know. I've always found something I wanted to read. I've never been to Hawaii, but it must have a bookstore or two somewhere...

    I've cut way back on the number of books I take, especially if I'm travelling in an English speaking country. Like you, I try to take editions I can leave behind, usually one on each plane, but lately I've been buying plenty along the way so it's usually a significant net gain in TBR.

    Enjoy your trip.

  5. I don't find that an unreasonable number :) I always pack too many books, particularly if there will be long flights or airport layovers. And I hate the idea of being stranded with a book that I don't want to read, or running out of things to read. But that doesn't stop me from looking for local bookstores as well.

  6. That's definitely not an unreasonable number of books, but it may be time to consider an e-reader. I never thought I'd I love my kindle paperwhite so much ... you can read in bed without a book light and on the beach, too!

  7. Maybe you can plan to toss that copy of The UnCoupling into the Pacific Ocean? If you're looking for a book to cut, I would highly recommend that one (ironically, because it is a book I would recommend to no one). Not worth the paper its printed on & utter drivel... And I get that pap can make for great vacay reading, but for a book about sex it is SO BORING. I wrote a review of it on my site ages ago if you're interested in (slightly) more eloquent discussion on why I was so thoroughly underwhelmed by it.

  8. While e-books aren't really real books, I have to admit that my Kindle has been such a liffesaver on trips. On my last trip (5 weeks in Singapore), I loaded it up with as many e-books as I could borrow, but also brought a couple of real books just in case.

    Have a wonderful time in Hawaii!

  9. Wow, you're worse than I am! But great idea about bringing books you don't mind leaving behind. I'll have to try that -- I'm also going on a long trip soon. I can see the appeal of a Kindle in this situation.

    Of your books, I've only read Ella Minnow Pea, which I did like. It's a very fast read, lots of white space on the pages. It's very clever.

    I think that is the same Monica Dickens from the Persephone catalog, but I've never heard of that one. I've read Mariana and The Winds of Heaven and liked both, plus One Pair of Hands which is a nonfiction about working as a cook. I picked up a couple of later works that were donated to the library but I haven't touched either of them yet.

    And ten days in Hawaii sounds like heaven!

  10. I see The Adults in that stack. I thought there was a lot to ponder with that one. I am not sure I appreciated the ending but it was a lot more complex than I thought it would be.

  11. If you can tolerate devices and just go with it, I think you'll find Ella Minnow Pea a charmer!

  12. 15 Books ?? Uh, are you planning to see anything of Hawaii at all? Surely there is something new there to see since the late '90's, or are you not one to venture out on your own. I'm a voracious reader, but when traveling I only take something to read before beddy-bye, on the plane, or maybe in the case of Hawaii, a little beach reading material would be good. Have you ever seen the movie Lost in Translation with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansen? Strike out, my man, and have some fun while you're there!

  13. Ellen: I am not sure why I really feel compelled to crack that particular nut.

    Shannon: It is the "just in case" scenario that I always worry about.I need something for every possible mood.

    Frances: Oddly, I find Naipaul kind of relaxing. I think I like the combo of somewhat ascetic language/English bearing mixed with "exotic" locations. We need to see each other for sure, but I think it will have to be post-Hawaii.

    James: There are fewer bookstores in Hawaii than you might think. But more important than that, there is a little thing called the Triple Dog Dare that will keep me from buying any books to read on this trip.

    Lisa: Last time we were in Hawaii I found a really cool used bookstore on Kauai and did buy a thing or two.

    JoAnn: I'm still firmly in the "no thank you" camp when it comes to e-readers.

    Steph: I tend to be a fan of Wolitzer. Will I have the same reaction. Your vehemence of course eggs me on to read just to see.

    Olduvai: Just think how many books I would take for five weeks. Then again I could probably get by with the same number.

    Karen: I could use a fast read right now so LMNOP will be welcome.

    Ti: The Adults was a bit of an impulse buy a while ago when I wanted to inject more current fiction into my reading.

    Layla: Normally I am not a big devices kind of reader, but I know that this one is all about that so I think I am ready.

    JudyMac: Oh there is plenty I plan to see in do in Hawaii. But long flights and five days essentially alone while John is working will give me plenty of time for reading. Plus in Honolulu I will be taking public transport, having meals alone, etc. Lots of time.


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