Choosing a Vacation Read (and March Book Haul)

My husband and I are hitting San Diego again next week and I'm so excited because that means it's time to plan reading material! Is there anything more fun for a book lover than choosing what to read for a vacation?? I am normally a VERY decisive person, but when it comes to paring down books/ebooks for travel, I can ruminate on it for WEEKS because I love it so! 

Now, I use the term 'vacation' loosely, because what I bring along on a road trip with the family is different from what I might bring on a weekend trip to sit poolside, and different from what I'd bring on an overseas adventure. The many considerations I ponder:
Is this a quick and relaxing trip? If so, I will most likely go with similar reading fare. Something that jives with my summer reading or romantic reads lists.
Is this a long and relaxing trip? It's been a very long time since I went somewhere relaxing for more than a weekend - before kids, for sure. But I do vaguely recall these days and tend towards filling up the Kindle with one doorstop I'd like to tackle and the rest akin to something I'd read on a shorter trip. However, the long book should be something adventurous or romantic, like one of my favorite epic page turners. Probably not the time to take on A Little Life. On the other hand...
Am I gearing up for a long flight that has nothing to do with vacation? I remember reading The Passage as I was travelling home when my mom was dealing with her first bout of cancer. I find that reading fluff, when I'm not feeling fluffy, is pointless. I'll never forget that amazing book. But, for the life of me, I cannot imagine reading it on a sandy beach. I tried to read Angela's Ashes poolside when I was on a trip in college and still have never finished that book.
Am I going on a long/touristy kind of trip? This is the best kind of book trip! I haven't taken such a trip since my unforgettable European travels with mom. How I would have taken advantage of a Kindle 20 years ago! Alas, I read a fair amount of Wally Lamb, John Irving and Pat Conroy - long and engrossing, in order to only lug around one or two books. Now, if I were to gear up for such travel, I'd probably approach it the same as a long relaxing trip, but less fluffy - maybe I'd finally crack open A Little Life, add some literary fiction, mystery and hopefully historical fiction - bonus points for books set in my travel destination! I always wished I could have read the Robert Langdon novels BEFORE I visited the many amazing locations in The Da Vinci Code. Alas, they were still wonderful revisiting them in my mind as I read Dan Brown's novels.
All this to say that it can be upended, or heavily influenced, by my usual considerations when deciding what to read next. Did something just come in from the library? Do I need a palate cleanser after reading something really emotional? Am I burnt out on a particular genre? Did I read a bunch of shorter books recently, giving me room to pick up something with more heft? Did a NetGalley come in that I should review soon? 
It's been a long time since I shared the stack! So here's what I'm looking at right now:
The Lost City of Z by David Grann (Soon to be film starring Charlie Hunnam, which might have been part of my decision to grab this from the Choice Reads section...)
The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin (This much revered Hugo award winner finally came in, right as I bought it on a Kindle daily deal!)
Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel by Lily Brooks-Dalton (The comparison to Station Eleven, which I really enjoyed, has me intrigued and was highly recommended by a Litsy friend.)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (There was a lot of hype around this one when it came out a few months ago, but reviews seem to be mixed now...)
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (Part of my catching up on Middle Grade award winners - this one a National Book Honoree.)
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (I have been meaning to give this author a try and a fellow book lover on Instagram said this was a good one to start with, but I also have two digital books of Williams' on hold.)
The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee (Similar to History of Wolves above - lots of initial hype on this purported sci-fi meets Gossip Girl that has mixed reviews. But I am still curious!)

Digital Books in the Queue:
The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron (NetGalley ARC)
What's Become of Her by Deb Caletti (NetGalley ARC)
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
The Nix by Nathan Hill
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Tiny Little Thing and Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

I may tuck Good Morning Midnight in my bag, since it's a pretty slim book and read one of the Beatriz Williams books or Taylor Jenkins Reid, since they seem relaxing vacation-y. As always, I am open to suggestions!


  1. I vote for Good Morning Midnight. It did have some commonalities with Station Eleven, but very different. (There's a review on my site.) History of Wolves....blah?

    I'm reading Dead Letters and listening to Exit West right now and both are great. Dead Letters is sort of an old-fashioned style mystery and very fun. (Will make you want to drink a lot!)

    Have fun in San Diego!

    1. Ooooh! Thanks for pointing me to your review on Good Morning Midnight - the comparison to The Martian is a good thing in my mind :)

  2. Oooh, you have some great choices at hand, Andrea! I highly recommend Dead Letters as a great vacation book; the fluff is tempered by the suspense/mystery. A Hundred Summers is definitely a good one, too! I hope you have so much fun!

    1. So many recommendations for A Hundred Summers! If I don't lug it with me, I think I'll have to read it soon, regardless :)

  3. A Hundred Summers is my favorite of Beatriz Williams' books. I think it would be a good vacation read, if that sort of book clicks with you. (I also enjoyed Tiny Little Things and Along the Infinite Sea and a book she co-wrote, The Forgotten Room.)
    One True Loves was a really easy but still thought provoking and thoughtful read. I really enjoyed it (one of my favorites from last year).
    The Thousandth Floor I think I enjoyed more in theory than in execution (intriguing premise) but it was still very readable although I had some issues with some plot points...you will probably know what I'm talking about when you get there...
    Have you watched the Victoria series on PBS? I haven't yet (waiting on the DVR) but the book read like it was written for tv and not adapted to book format really well. I'm hoping the show is better.
    AND you really can't go wrong with From the Mixed Up Files... That's a book I read as a kid I've been meaning to reread.

    I hope you find something great to read and have a wonderful trip!

    1. Ahhh, I wish I had a digital copy of A Hundred Summers because that one seems to get the most votes and the hardback is rather large!
      I have not seen the series on PBS, but the idea was to read it beforehand - I loved the film The Young Victoria, so I thought I might enjoy the book. We shall see...