Alright guys, you shan’t be hearing from me next week. I barely had time to pull something together this week because I am busy as a bee prepping for a good old fashioned road trip, a family vacation all the way up into the mythical land of Canada. What, exactly, is keeping me so busy packing for this magical maple syrup and pountine wonderland? Deciding what books to pack, of course. The whole family is looking forward to many, many hours of sitting still, trapped in close quarters with each other. To keep my sanity levels manageable, I’ve got to bring some highly engaging books to occupy myself, lest I mortally wound my family in a stir-crazy fit of rage, like a werewolf whose weakness is a compelling storyline instead of silver.
There is a certain art to packing books for a trip. I’m not just bringing one thing to read, no way. I need a text for every need or whim, and perhaps a dozen or so for back up reads.
I’ll be sharing with you the contents of my book-stuffed bags to show you what is needed to properly pack reading material for your next vacation. Note that any books I mention by name are books that I haven’t read yet, hence me taking them on a long-ass road trip with loads of reading time, so I’m not so much recommending these books to anyone, technically, as I am saying that these sound promising, to me.
1.The Big Read.
This has got to be something you really want to sink your teeth into. If you’re in for a really long travel, I’d say the thicker the book, the better, because who knows when you’ll be able to devote so much time to a single book again? Consider it your primary reading material, the one you’ll spend the most time with.
I’ve selected Susana Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for this bit, a very thick book about two guys named Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, (who could have guessed?!) and their quest to restore English magic. I would’ve read it much sooner if the thing wasn’t in the same weight class as the thicker Game of Thrones books, but finally some positive reviews of the BBC miniseries adaptation of this book made me brave enough to finally go out and try it.
2.The Light-Hearted One.
Taking a break from your Big Read can keep your head from stagnating. Maybe the big read book is getting too familiar, to dull even. Conversely, Maybe riding in a car with your family for upwards of eight hours is getting too intense and none of your other books can help you chillax quick enough to avoid throat punching your seat buddy for elbowing you the third time in the row. Light-Hearted reads are usually comedic and always enjoyable in nature.
In the past, I’ve chosen to read books by stand-up comedians for my light-hearted book, because often enough I can even read these aloud, since most comedians end up writing their books like a stand-up routine anyhow, and lighten everyone’s mood. Food, A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan, a comedian I really enjoy, has been waiting around on my to-read shelf for a bit, and so I decided to let that one take up residence in my suitcase.
For when you finish the first Big-Read. Of course, I don’t always finish my first big read, especially when it is as big as Strange and Norrell behemoth I’ve chosen to read on this vacation, but paranoia forces me to keep several extras on hand. I’ll just mention my primary Back-Up here, though.
My designated second for this trip will be Samantha Hunt’s The Invention of Everything Else, a historical fiction book about a young maid who became very close with the brilliant Nikola Tesla during his declining years. Historical fiction. Nikola Tesla. I would’ve made this book my first Big Read except for the fact that my copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is also historical fiction, and due back at the library far too soon.
If all else is failing, you’ll need something else to read entirely, a book you know is safe, one that can be your home away from home when you start to feel the cockroach ridden B&B you checked into just isn’t cutting it. If a terrible run of bad luck made you pick terrible reads for the first three categories, a comfortable old favorite may be the only thing you can rely on.
Through most of the trips I went on from middle school to high school Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones was my go to Re-Read. However, both my copies of that book are near disintegration from frequent use, and until I find a book restoration expert that deals in paperbacks less than a decade old, I have to make do with something else. I ultimately decided on Good Omens, a Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman collaboration I love very dearly but haven’t read in a while.
5. The New Vacation Book.
What kind of book lover goes on vacation without checking out a bookstore and getting a half dozen books or so as souvenirs? Not this one, that’s for certain. Yup, on top of all the other books I’m bringing along, now I’ve got to fit in time to read a bunch of random new babies yearning for my literary attention.
What will my New Vacation Books be? Hard to say, since I haven’t bought them yet. What kind of books do they sell in Canada? Maple syrup and pountine fusion recipe books? Star-crossed moose and Mounty romance novels? Something in Canadian French? All of them, I shall buy all those books and more! To Canada, O Canada!