Jenerally Speaking: Come Fly with Me

Oh summer, you are finally here!  Summer in the Big Apple can be particularly brutal – especially in July and August when the humidity is TERRIBLE.  Usually June is OK but it is proving to be a little rainy this year.  But I can’t complain because I’m taking a vacation next week to sunny, Southern California and I CANNOT wait.  Mom and RyanMy mom is turning the big 6-0 on June 17th and my adorable nephew is turning 4 on the 20th. (pictured) To celebrate my mom’s big day she has opted for a trip to Disneyland so that she can take my nephew for his first trip and see it through his eyes.  This adventure will be 2 days and will include character breakfasts, going to both Disneyland and California Adventure and hours of waiting in line for a 2 minute ride among other things.  My nephew has opted for his birthday party at a gym with trampolines.  Now I know what you are thinking…how on earth am I going to pack a carry-on suitcase that will hold cover all my needs for a week including apparel that will keep me cool in the hot California sun, won’t clash with Mickey Mouse and will be appropriate to jump around on a trampoline in?  But packing clothes is never a problem for me.  On average it takes me about 10 minutes to pack my suitcase.  The problem is that it takes me DAYS to pack books.  I usually gather all the books I want to read over vacation.  This results in a few piles of books that I basically make ‘audition’ for a spot in my suitcase/purse.  I’ll re-read back cover copy.  I’ll think about how long I’ve had it on my shelf and wonder if it is time to bite the bullet and read it.  I’ll even judge it by its size.   Now, I know what you are thinking, “she’s crazy.”  Believe me…I’m aware.  It’s not like Southern California doesn’t have a bunch of awesome bookstores for me to visit.  But I just can’t stop.  My vacation reads are too important!

Bringing books on vacation is not technically a problem but here are some of the dilemmas I face when heading on a ‘relaxing’ vacation.

  1. How many books to pack?  My general rule is = # of days of vacation + 1 more book.  (This also applies to work trips).  My current vacation is 9 days so that is 10 books that will be making the journey with me.  5-6 will go in my suitcase and the remainder in my very large purse/tote.
  2. Type of books to pack?  Light fare?  Or something that I’ve been putting off reading because I need a large chunk of time to really get into it?  In general, I try to bring books with me I don’t typically read during my normal life.
  3. Which books will go in the suitcase?  What elite few will make it into my purse?
  4. Though I fly all the time, I still get pretty nervous during take-off.  That’s a lot of metal to get up in the sky and my local airport has short runways.  Years ago, I was barely functional during take-off.  Luckily, my frequent travel lets me sit back, read and look pretty normal on the outside (though my mind is hyper-aware of everything) as we barrel down the runway.  Because of this, I make sure to start one of my books the night prior reading about 50-75 pages before going to bed.  That way when I get on the plane I’m already engrossed and my reading can distract me during the ascent.  (Just in case you are wondering I’m perfectly fine once we reach 10,000 feet.  Nothing else bothers me during flight).
  5. Can I leave the book behind if I finish it?  This definitely factors into my decisions.  I generally like to be able to leave my books behind on planes, in airports, hotels, etc for someone else to enjoy.  If you ever come by a left behind book – take a look inside, I’ll usually leave a recommendation on the title page.


Here are the contenders for this year’s vacation:

  1. A Well-Tempered Heart  – Jan-Philipp Sendker
  2. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell (this will make the final cut as it is my book club book for July).
  3. Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter
  4. The Fortune Hunter – Daisy Goodwin
  5. The House of Special Purpose – John Boyne
  6. The Secret Place – Tana French
  7. This One Summer – Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki
  8. Rescue – Anita Shreve
  9. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb – Melanie Benjamin
  10. Rose Under Fire – Elizabeth Wein
  11. Jackaby – William Ritter
  12. The Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom
  13. The Paris Winter – Imogen Robertson
  14. Finnikin of the Rock – Melina Marchetta
  15. I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson
  16. Of Triton – Anna Banks
  17. Ruin & Rising – Leigh Bardugo

This is going to be tough…

Author spotlight

Jen E.

Jen E. lives and works in Manhattan as a sales rep for the completely awesome Macmillan Children’s Group. When she …

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