How To

7 Tips For Packing Vacation Reads

Emma Nichols

Staff Writer

Emma Nichols is a career bookseller. Though she expected to grow up to be a librarian, or a witch, she's quite happy with how things are working out. Officially, she specializes in children's books and manages their book fairs; unofficially, she is passionate about short stories and spreadsheets. When not evangelizing her favorite books to unsuspecting customers, she can be heard discussing books and bookselling on her podcast Drunk Booksellers. Her other hobbies include organizing her books, taking pictures of her cat, and binge-re-watching her favorite TV shows. Blog: The Bibliot Twitter: @thebibliot

Packing books for vacation might be one of the single most difficult situations I’ve faced in my bookish life.


There is a certain comfort in knowing you can always stop one book and exchange it for another, a certain calm in being surrounded by your book collection.


But when you go on vacation, you really have to winnow it down. So what do you do? Well, I’m about to leave on a seven-day vacation that involves two planes and a long car ride, so I can tell you what would do.

1. If you have an e-reader, use it! But be selective. I have a huge collection of ebooks, but I only keep about 6 titles on my iPad at any given time. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by options.

2. Don’t decide between physical or digital, bring both! Your battery might run out, your screen might break, you might want to read at night and the screen bothers you. Who knows, maybe I’m paranoid, but I always like to have a physical book.

3. Bring multiple genres. You can only carry so many [physical] books, so you should have a variety. If you get bored of your novel, dip into some short stories. I chose a novel, a non-fic, and a short story collection.

4. Go with what you know. Bring an author you love or a book recommended by a friend who knows just what you like. You wouldn’t want to waste space on a dud. I loved Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan, so for my non-fic title I’m bringing his book Naked Statistics.

5. Choose something easy to dip in and out of. Who knows what you’ll be doing on vacation, but for me I’ll be traveling more than relaxing, so I want something I can easily put down and pick up without losing the thread. Anything with short chapters or a short fiction title is perfect—I’m bringing Goodnight, Beautiful Women by Anna Noyes. Collected comics would be good too!

6. Bring something you’ve been meaning to read. Vacation is a great time to catch up on your TBR, to read the big book of last season that somehow missed you. I’m finally going to read Station Eleven! I know, I know, it’s nuts that I haven’t yet. Hooray for vacation!

7. Don’t stress—there are probably bookstores or libraries where you’re headed, so you can always pick up something new.

8. The last one is, for me, the most important. I always think I’ll read more than I do and end up overpacking. And normally I visit at least a few bookstores wherever I go. So this trip I’m being good and only bringing three books…

Naked Statistics Charles Wheelan Goodnight Beautiful Woman Anna Noyes Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
 …and like six e-books (what, they take up like, no room).


What are your must haves and must leaves when packing for vacation?