If you're a bibliophile like me, packing books for vacation can be a daunting task - particularly if you prefer traveling with print books instead of one of those flashy, newfangled e-readers. (I own one, and love it, but I still love a paperback by the pool.) Weight, size of books, number of books, and content are all things to consider when planning your vacation reading, especially if you're a packing hero traveling with a carry-on only. (This is something I will contend with on our upcoming vacation, and I am already stressed out about it.)
For our November 2013 cruise on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, I knew we would be relaxing by the pool quite a bit, so I tossed two library books into my suitcase. I plowed through Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (lots of fun) and then started The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (too depressing to read while listening to steel drums). Wally Lamb tells good stories, but after a couple of his books on vacation, I know I won't be packing another one in the future.
On our recent visit to an all-inclusive in Riviera Maya, Mexico I packed the first book in the Game of Thrones series, thinking I would become completely engulfed by the fantasy world of George R.R. Martin before beginning the critically-acclaimed HBO television series with my husband. Nope. While the book is incredibly well written, I spent most of that vacation staring at the Caribbean Sea trying to decompress from months of working long hours. This was our first vacation together with substantial time spent relaxing, and I probably would have read much more if I had packed something a tad lighter. I plan on finishing this one at home...eventually. Okay, what I mean is that I plan on watching the tv series soon.
My husband reads only occasionally but had his nose buried in a book for most of our stay at Dreams Riviera Cancun, so consider this is an honest-to-goodness book endorsement. A couple of years ago, I wrote out a list of books for my husband that I thought he would enjoy, so he has been working his way through both fiction and nonfiction slowly but surely.
On this trip, he went completely rogue and packed a book my mom had purchased for him as a Christmas gift - Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. He could not wait to get to the pool to read each morning, and he spent most of our rainy resort day burrowed in the resort lobby, alternating between beers and coffee drinks from the CoCo Cafe.
My reading life since becoming a mom hasn't taken too much of a hit, but I do love the extended reading sessions I am rewarded with when my husband and I travel. During a course of six days, I plowed through four books, all of the page-turner variety.
While cruise ship libraries often feature less-than-desirable passenger cast-offs, the Grand Princess library, "Leaves", offered readers several shelves of purchased books including an area dedicated to the classics and the Princess Book Club. I could have easily pulled twenty books from the cases to take to my stateroom, but I grabbed The Roanoke Girls. I used a couple of my internet minutes to check its rating on Goodreads, saw the positive rating and review my friend Amy gave it (she never lets me down), and I immediately started it with a latte in one hand. While the subject matter of this book is extremely dark (major trigger warnings here), the author tends to it delicately while wrapping it in a completely engrossing family saga. What a read. This was a five-star for me.
Throughout the cruise, we really enjoyed spending time in the Leaves library. We played Scrabble from the board game collection, tried out some of the daily puzzle sheets left out for passengers, and of course, read our books. Because of the very cool temperatures of this trip, we spent more time indoors than we normally do.
Inadvertently, the last two books I read on the cruise both centered around California serial killers, one fictional and the other not.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark is the literary culmination of one writer's twenty-year obsession to uncover the man who terrorized California over a span of several years in the 1970s and 1980s. While McNamara passed away before the completion of her book, those who best knew her and the case finished a few of the chapters. Interestingly enough, while I was reading this, the Golden State Killer was finally arrested after about forty years of police evasion. Five stars.
Unsub, which I recently learned has been optioned for television, tells the story of a creepy killer (nicknamed "The Prophet") in the Bay Area who presents his victims in horrifying tableau. The case haunts both detective father and detective daughter, who must rexamine the case when similar murders resume twenty years after the case nearly destroyed her father. I read this book in one day - I could not put it down. I am not usually a fan of series, but as soon as I realized there was a second book, I put it on hold. Very dark, and could keep you up at night! Five stars.
My husband, who is normally only a vacation reader, finally started a book I have been encouraging him to read since I finished it over the course of two days in February. I became obsessed with Scott Kelly's memoir when I read it, and even signed up for and attended some local space talks, made my husband watch a Soyuz landing with me live on NASA TV, and bought a NASA t shirt. The book covers his early life with astronaut twin Mark Kelly, journey to becoming an astronaut, and full coverage of his year living at the International Space Station. Everyone I have recommended this book to has become completely engrossed and fascinated by him and his story as well. Five stars.
In May 2017, Brian and I spent four nights at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort and Spa, a luxurious retreat located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Unfortunately, I experienced an issue with loading books onto my first-generation Nook eReader (yes, I still have and use my original) so I did not enjoy using my Kindle Fire for reading on this vacation. I am just not a fan of backlit devices - they are killer on the eyes and no fun in the sun.
Let's take a look - without judgment - at my reads for this vacation:
Troublemaker by Leah Remini - I had been watching and enjoying the A&E documentary exploring the problems and abuses within Scientology prior to travel, so this quick and fascinating read was a natural selection for my poolside enjoyment.
Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham - I am a Gilmore Girls fanatic, so as soon as I learned Lauren Graham would be publishing a memoir, it immediately was added to my to-be-read list on Goodreads. Lucky for me, my turn for the eBook was up right as we were set to depart. I fell in love with her even more with each page, and I suspect this would be fantastic as an audio selection.
This was a different sort of reading vacation for me - with lack of access to the books I *thought* I had loaded onto my Nook, and then issues reading my Kindle in the sunlight, my reading time was sufficiently hampered. I did not dive into any great fiction as is my norm, but I thoroughly enjoyed these guilty pleasure memoirs on this first resort vacation post-baby.
Update: I have since purchased a Kindle Paperwhite, which is much more user-friendly for downloading books from my library's Overdrive system (no more cables and computers and Adobe programs needed like with my Nook!)
After finding out in early March that we were expecting our first child, the husband and I knew we needed to squeeze in one final vacation before our travels were put aside for a few months to care for our little lady.
My husband really wanted to spend a week at a couple of all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, so I made our arrangements and we headed south in mid-June. I have been very lucky with a healthy, active, and happy pregnancy, but I am not ashamed to admit how much I was looking forward to embracing my inner sloth and lounging for a few days with books and a Caribbean view.
And lounge I did...I am not kidding when I say this is just about all we did on this vacation. (We are normally active vacation people, so this level of laziness is a huge deal for us.)
Where You Could Find Me, Nose in a Book:
The Books I Read:
Nook or paperbacks? Nook or paperbacks? Nook! And one paperback, just in case, for the beach!
Selecting books to pack for vacation is my most time-consuming task, and it usually involves quite a bit of time spent on Goodreads and a few consultations with my most trusted of reading friends. Usually, I am the one many seek out for book recommendations, but planning reading material for vacation really sends me into a tizzy. Thankfully, my great reading friend Lisa surprised me with several books for my eReader a couple of days before departure; she really knows my taste and I knew that I would have some great novels in store. Nook or paperbacks? Nook or paperbacks? Nook! And one paperback, just in case, for the beach!
I have read Chevy Stevens in the past, and her books are usually fun page-turners so I thought I would start this one on the flight to Cancun. It wasn't as good as the first book I read by her, Still Missing, but it made the time pass quickly en route to Mexico. I finished it shortly before landing, and selected The Vacationers as my next read, which proved to be a perfect novel for hanging out on the beach or at the pool. I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You was smart and well-written; it's a shame so many are writing negative reviews because they didn't care for the main character.