Friday, 30 July 2010

Travelling With Books!

This weekend I am on the road! I am visiting Denmark for a friend's wedding, and looking forward to it very much. So far I have been treated to some spectacular Danish hospitality, including a rather splendid afternoon cake.

But it is not so much the country of Denmark that I want to talk about (as fine as it is - seriously, you ought to consider making the trip at some point, if you hadn't considered it as a holiday destination!) Rather it is the nature of travelling with books.

See, I am here for four days (wedding day included). I spent approximately ten minutes packing my suitcase and sorting out my outfit (a rather snazzy floral dress and wedges). I then spent AT LEAST 45 minutes browsing my shelves, picking up and discarding choices of books to bring with me on the trip.

Not only did I spend this long on deciding which books, but I have ended up bringing SEVEN books. For four days. One of which I'll be doing the social butterfly thing and won't manage any book reading. But I felt I needed seven to cover every single eventuality - all my various moods, a few different genres represented, any commitments I have.

Right now, I can certainly see the attraction of an eReader, where I don't suffer the agonies of having to choose which books to bring and which books to leave.

I was also deeply amused by the fact that when I reached the airport I didn't spend my hour or so wait reading the seven books I have taken with me - instead, I wandered as though hypnotised towards the nearest bookstore. It was offering 4 books for the price of 3 and I had a couple in my hand before I thought about it. You'll be pleased to know I didn't buy any of them (I just fondled them a little) but I could easily have ended up carting eleven books with me *grin*.

What are you holiday book habits? Do you agonise over your choices? Are you smug about your eReading capabilities? Do you ALWAYS take far too many books for the period you're away?

And, for those who are interested, here are my seven:

- Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson (for my Malazan Re-read)
- The Equivoque Principle and The Eleventh Plague by Darren Craske (a long overdue read of this good-natured author's work)
- The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas and The Long Song by Andrea Levy (two of the Man Booker Prize shortlist)
- Johannes Cabal the Detective by Jonathan L Howard (my current read)
- Veteran by Gavin Smith (another book I owe it to the author to read).


  1. I have a (much-loved) Kindle but didn't take it on holiday because I can't really leave it on the beach! I took two books instead - Viriconium and The King of Elfland's Daughter...and ended up reading about 50 pages of one. In a week. I *love* reading, but it's kind of become a guilty pleasure because I can never find the time! :s If I wanted to take a few books I'd definitely take the Kindle instead - how did you fit 7 books in your suitcase?! ;)

  2. Oh, in a week's holiday on a beach I would expect to whip through seven books or so easily - and so would take 12 ;-) (all of them fluffy girly chick lit though!)

    The books were a squeeze - in fact, my hand language was pretty crammed :-D

  3. Interesting question, and I can't wait to see peoples' comments on this.

    I don't remember the last time I was not reading a book, so I will always bring the book I'm reading with me when travelling. And if I'm going to be away for longer than it takes to finish that I bring more.

    For some reason I tend to bring with me enough reading material to have enough if nothing happens where I'm going. So usually I have a book or three I haven't started when I get home.

    I tend to be able to read anything, so I don't go for books for different moods, and just bring the next books I want to read.

  4. Oh, Ole, I wish I was like you! I really suffer from mood reading, so, when I know I am going to finish a book while away, I will take a few options to cover whether I want something light or something more weighty. Part of the issue with this trip is finding English books in Denmark if I ran out, so I definitely over-packed. If I were on holiday in the States or in the UK I wouldn't worry quite as much :-)

  5. I have to admit that when I travel having an eReader is a real bonus. Saves space and the charge tends to last a couple of weeks use. I don't think it will ever replace buying real books though. Something about the tactile sensation of reading a real book that eReaders can't compete with, at least not yet.

  6. If Denmark is anything like Norway you'll find Fantasy/SF specialist shops, and a newsagent chain that carries English books. (in Norway that is Narvesen.) We Scandinavians read a lot of English :-)

  7. @Pablo - This is why I am starting to wonder about the benefits. I would never ever go all-out into eReaders - like you, there is something about real books I just love utterly. But I don't like the whole process of having to decide what to bring with me!

    @Ole - Hmm, what an interesting discovery ;-) I am spending the day on Monday in Copenhagen....

  8. Had to check... Here's a bookstore in Copenhagen that carries English books
    Have fun :-)

  9. I can totally relate to this post as I'm exactly the same. I'm thinking more and more about investing in an e reader but only for travelling, beta reading and netgalley usage. Not for everyday reading as nothing can replace the real thing!

  10. Hey Lynsey - thanks for the comment. I agree that the thought of investing is sort of tempting, but then I wonder whether you have to commit yourself to either the eReader OR the real thing? I mean, if you had the eReader anyway, would you not end up buying more and more books for it? Just get used to it and slide away from real books? Or would you end up buying one and then still liking the real thing so much that you barely touched it?

    Would be interesting to hear from those who juggle eReaders and real books :-)

  11. I love my ereader for traveling and just daily commuting. But it hasn't replaced regular book buying so I tend to still travel with my ereader and two to four other books.

    Last summer I was gone from home for 21 days. It was before my ereader and I think I took 18 or more books.

    Also, since you seem interested to hear about juggling books. I'm reading Rosemary and Rue in paperback and I'm reading Passage by Justin Cronin, The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood(?), Flotsmetrics and the Floating World by Ebbsemeyer (nonfiction and I read it when I'm in the mood). The topics are a little close for my normal reading but the prose is so different between all of them I haven't been having issues seperating them.

    I have found I still tend to read more paperback books...probably because I own so many but I read about 4-5 books a month on my ereader and 10-15 paperbacks.

  12. Gah, Passage, The Handmaid's Tale and the nonfiction book are all on my ereader.

  13. I thought about an e-reader, but my travels typically take me parts of the world that would be hard to charge up or need an adaptor (hiking in the Andes, sailing in the Carribean, camel riding in the Sahara, Eastern Europe), so I lug along a thick book to read. When I went to Japan last year, I brought along The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman (900+ pages). I'm heading down to sail in the Carribean in Oct and I will be carting Labyrinth by Kate Mosse or Mary: Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George. Both are thick books for 7 days of sailing and should keep me occupied. (I might pack an extra book just in case I need one to read to fly back though...)


  14. I usually end up with about 3 books for any trip. I usually have a couple of fiction selections from whatever genres I'm reading at the moment. I'll also bring along at least two magazines for those short times when I need something to look at, but won't be able to finish a chapter. Then I'll bring one of the non-fiction books that I'm perpetually reading/studying. That tends to cover all the options.

    An e-reader would make some of this simpler, I still haven't completely bought off on the idea. I like the fact that I can buy a book, and turn around to sell it if it isn't completely impressive.

  15. Even if I'm just popping into town or to the doctor's I don't leave the house without stuffing a book into my handbag. Big bags = good! So when the chance of travelling further afield occurs it really is an occasion. Buying my holiday reads is as much a ritual as buying my holiday clothes and I take time and care to purchase several books I've been longing for. Then I will not touch, admire or open them until I'm on the road to the airport! My hubby has a Sony Bookreader and he took four hundred books with him on holiday in July - he got through five in two weeks but spent a great deal of time flitting from book to book, a real book tart if you ask me! I prefer to take time and choose wisely before I go - and I never disappoint myself!

  16. Great post :)

    I always bring a book with me, even when I know I'll probably won't get around to reading it (like when I'm taking Emma with me), but just in case.

    As for holiday reading, I always lug at least 3 or four books with if we go away for a week. But, then I tend to come home with more books than I left with! Especially as the last two times we went on holiday (in 2008 mind) we went to London and Paris. London was truly bad (or good depending on how you look at it ;)) bookwise, I think we bought over 30 books. But then, we'd kinda saved up to go crazy in the booshops lol

  17. I always try to take a book set in that the country I'm visiting, or written by an author from that country. I hope that this will simultaneously bring the country to life as well as the book