Packing for summer vacation is no easy feat for me. Oh, the clothes aren't really an issue. We go to the Caribbean, so two pairs of capris, four bathing suits and some sarongs or coverups, snorkel gear, some tops to mix & match, and a couple of pairs of sandals are all I need. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll toss in a sundress, too. Before the days of the shoe bomber, we even got away with doing carry-on only, even for a two week vacation, but these days we generally check an additional bag with our various liquids and unguents, namely sunscreen.
No, the hard part of packing for me is paring down the list of books that I take with me. Last year I set a personal best of reading 19 books over 15 days. I don't think I'll necessarily match that this year, but I intend to pack at least 16 books for the same amount of time. And since I like having these things planned well in advance, today is the day I've dedicated to reading the first few pages or first chapter of a couple dozen books to determine which ones make the cut. The only thing worse than running out of books on summer vacation is being stuck with duds.
I try to bring at least one non-fiction title, but then my fiction really runs the gamut. I'll take short stories and novels, big thick tomes and slender volumes, typical beach reads and books so dark that the only place to read them in comfort is in the dazzling tropical sunlight. It's also a time for me to both catch up on backlist (previously published) reading and read ahead, courtesy of advance reader's copies, for the books that are coming out in the fall. This is also the first year that I'm lucky enough to have a Sony e-Reader. I don't know how easy it will be to read its non-backlit screen in the bright sunlight, especially whilst wearing my polarized shades, but we'll give it the ol' college try.
On my list of definites (at least so far):
The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Great House by Nicole Krauss
The Tower, the Zoo & the Tortoise by Julia Stuart
Tinkers by Paul Harding
The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass
Jellicoe Road by Marlina Marchetta (for young adults)
Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
The Woman with the Bouquet by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
Help Me, Jacques Cousteau by Gil Adamson
Legend of a Suicide by David Vann
Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
I still need a nonfiction book to take with me. Any recommendations?