Our Reading Lives

Coming Soon to an Airport Near You: My Books

I have too many books.

I’m not looking to be talked down here; I’ve made the excuses for others myself, and I’m very familiar. “There’s no such thing as too many books!” “It’s okay if your TBR stack is infinite!” “It’s the best possible kind of hoarding!” “So what if your mileage is suffering? You’ll never be without choices for things to do in an hours-long traffic jam!”

Sure, sure. Enabling aside: my book cases are bowing, my lower walls are concealed by stacks of books, I cannot see my kitchen table, and there’s a box filled with volumes in the backseat of my car that essentially screams “enough!” I’ve hit critical mass. It’s time for action.

Plus: I know myself. I’m not going to get to all of these books. There are many that I will read, yes, but there are also a good many that I took home with the best of intentions, but will likely never read.

While planning my holiday trip, I made a decision about the second category: I’m going to pack a heap of them in a fat carry on and distribute them in airports and airplanes along the way.

I’ve never been stuck in an airport myself during Christmas Eve and Christmas day flights (I’m knocking on wood furiously here), but I’ve heard the horror stories. This is already a snowy winter. I suspect that some of my fellow travelers may find themselves caught in the airport where I’m switching planes, and I want to do something nice for a few of them. (And for me. I really miss my tidier space.)

So here’s what I’m thinking: a title slipped into the magazine holder behind the seats. One pushed under the seat in front of me. One left in the overhead bin. A few dropped on tables and chairs around departure gates at O’Hare. One on the train at Hartsfield. The bathroom might be a step too far for me, but who knows? Maybe. It’ll be like scavenger hunt without the clues. It may give someone who’s bored silly and stuck and looking desperately to be entertained something to do.

So if you find yourself stuck on a runway or in a busy terminal this holiday season: cheer up. Look around. There just may be a no-strings-attached book waiting for you nearby.

Happy holidays—and thanks, mystery readers, for helping me to downsize.