Now that July is upon us and the school holidays have started, a lot of people are thinking about heading away to get a break from reality. If you’re lucky, you might get to lounge around somewhere – pool, garden, beach – and read all day. Perfect.
My kindle has been an absolute godsend when it came to holiday packing. At one stage I was reading a book a day when I was on holiday, which really ups your luggage weight. I’ve grown older now, so I was only managing to finish a book every day and a half on average on my most recent break in May. But I have definitely got packing my holiday reading down to a fine art. Conversely, my husband spent the holiday flitting from book to book, unable to settle because he couldn’t find anything that really satisfied him. And, as we were abroad, he was stuck with the limited selection he had brought with him.
So here’s how I plan my holiday reading.
Guaranteed Wins on my To Be Read List
Like everyone my TBR list is a mile long. Some I know I will love, some are risks that I’m taking to try and expand my reading habits. When going away, you don’t want to be stuck with a load of risky books which you can’t easily exchange. Save those for when you’re at home – or at the very least bring two books that are sure things for every one risky book. Otherwise you risk finding yourself stranded with a lot of books it turns out you can’t bear.
New Releases I’m Excited For
There is nothing like a build-up of hype to power you through a book, and nothing like a holiday to excuse getting that new book that you’ve been waiting on. Whether it’s the next in a series you’ve been reading, or the latest release from an author you love – a holiday is the best time to treat yourself to something you’ve been waiting for ages to read. This is different from a book off my TBR list, because these aren’t books I already own – these are books I have been waiting to be released, books that I have been counting down to.
Some books I just read again and again, but it’s difficult to justify in daily life when there are so many new releases to keep on top of and such little time for reading. When you have to prioritise, you can’t re-read as much as you like. But on holiday, when I have time to spare, then I can indulge in a few re-reads. Pride and Prejudice I get through at least once a year, and I have started to re-read The Dresden Files at a leisurely pace, in the hopes that by the time I finish this round, the new one will be out. Then there are books that I want to re-read to see if I can appreciate them differently this time around, now that I am older and wiser.
Much as I loved it, it took me ages to read Walter Moers’ The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear. And I have been halfway through The City of Dreaming Books for about a year now. Part of this is psychological – they’re such physically huge tomes, the idea of sitting down to only read snippets can feel overwhelming, even if I have read more than twice their length in other books. If I have time to marathon read instead of sprint, I feel more capable of tackling these huge stories. Lorna Doone is one I read on a trip, all the faster for being able to read undisturbed. The downside is the weight of them when packing!
The Departure Lounge Impulse-Buy
Despite all my planning, despite carefully curating a list that will almost certainly be longer than I will ever complete on a holiday (I’ve been burned before by under-packing books), I nearly always buy a new book from the bookshop in the departure lounge or train station. I can’t help it – I get overexcited in the presence of new books and want something new and shiny to take with me. Mostly, I’ve been very lucky, finding books I wouldn’t normally have read but which for some reason spoke to me in the airport and it paid off. The Glorious Heresies, The Teleportation Accident and Spectacles are three which I grabbed on impulse and which paid dividends.
It works out, this planning method. I actually read all of the key to-reads on my list which I took on holiday, and a couple off my lower priority list by the time we had got home. I felt so relaxed and pleased with myself.
How do you plan your holiday reading? Are you a planner or a winger?