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A Book Nerd’s Guide to Camping and the Great Outdoors

Cassie Gutman

Staff Writer

Cassie Gutman is happiest when surrounded by books and dogs. Originally from a small, funny-named town near Louisville, Kentucky, she now edits words for a living near Chicago and would like to be paid in ice cream. You can find her on Instagram @happybooklovers or on Twitter @cassiepgutman.

The summer is winding down and autumn is upon us, which means it’s the perfect time to pack your gear and head to the great outdoors for a camping weekend before winter sets in and we’re all snowed in for five months.

But let’s face it: most of us are pretty content to stay inside in the nice air conditioning with our books. Why would we leave our houses? We have everything we need here! No matter how much we want to stay inside, vitamin D and fresh air are good for us (apparently), so here’s my official guide to camping and the great outdoors—for inside, book-loving people.

A Book Nerd's Guide to Camping and the Great Outdoors | Book Riot

Pick and Choose Your Books

If your family, partner, kids, or dog(s) are nipping at you to spend time outside with them, the key is what you pack. Cats (most likely) won’t nag you to get outside. Good job, cats.

Make sure to pack just enough books to get you through the weekend (or however long you’re camping) without too much social interaction, but few enough you can still carry them in your backpack. Remember, you do have to bring food and clothes (ugh), so it’s necessary to choose your books wisely. You can only take so many!

Avoid the Bugs at All Costs

The bugs are the worst part about the outside, IMO, but there are several ways you can tackle this issue. One of the best inventions was the mosquito-tent-net thing you can set up over your entire campsite (the bigger, the better) like the dome from the Stephen King-verse, keeping absolutely everything out.

But if that isn’t an option, your backup plan should be accessories. What accessories? All of them. Sun hat to cover your hair so you don’t have to worry about ticks? Check. Bandanna to cover your face from burning and keep you from accidentally swallowing a fly? Check. Celebrity-size sunglasses to keep the gnats out because they inevitably always end up flying in your eyeballs? Check. Use ‘em all. The more accessories you can pile on your head to keep the outdoor from getting to your face, the better.

Bug spray is a must, but get the non-greasy kind. Can’t be staining those book pages!

Reading After Dark

This is where, if you decided earlier to load up your ereader instead of packing a pile of books, you may thank your past self. If your device is backlit, you’re golden. Read away!

If your device uses e-ink, or you’ve decided to up your muscle mass and lug your books with you, you’ll have to remember to pack at least two book lights (an extra in case one dies, because of course it will), a handheld flashlight, or resolve that reading by phone light is the best way to use your cell’s battery instead of for photos, GPS, or actual communication.

No matter which method you choose, remember to leave all accessories on your person (see aforementioned bug avoidance rules), because moths and mosquitoes will now be your light’s new best friends. Bugs are terrible. Read in the dark if you can.

Have Fun!

Remember, spending time in the great outdoors is an unbeatable way to connect with loved ones, unplug from our digital lives, and—

Just kidding. The outdoors are terrible. Stay inside and read.