Packing Well

Digital tablet, smart phone, bag, backpack, passport, sneakers, jeans, shirt, notebook, camera, photography

If there is a smart way to do it, here is a good suggestion:

The Smart Traveler Packs a Book for Every Occasion

As I write this, I’m busy planning a vacation to Maine—a vacation that I will already have enjoyed by the time you read this. There are so many factors to consider—car rental, restaurant reservations, day trips, wardrobe, etc. But perhaps the most important is: What am I going to read?

This is one of those occasions when I’m glad to own an e-reader. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll always favor a physical book over a digital one; nothing compares with the sensory pleasure of holding that objet d’art and turning its pages. But when I’m on the road? I’m perfectly content to stock my iPad with e-books for every reading contingency. After all, you never know whether you’ll be in the mood for a smart, adrenaline-boosted thriller—Denise Mina’s Confidence (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown, July 5) looks like a good candidate—or a work of nonfiction that illuminates a fascinating person or period—in which case, Damien Lewis’ Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy (Public Affairs, July 12) offers revelations about entertainer Josephine Baker’s exploits during World War II.

If I haven’t gotten to it before my vacation, I’ll definitely be reading All Down Darkness Wide (Penguin Press, July 12), a memoir by poet Séan Hewitt. Hewitt writes about struggles with his sexuality growing up in 1990s and early 2000s England and about the post-university relationship that was deeply challenged by his partner’s mental health issues. In a starred review, our critic calls it a “profoundly moving meditation on queer identity, mental illness, and the fragility of life.” OK, that doesn’t exactly sound like escapist beach-blanket fare—but I’m a strong believer that we should read the kinds of books we love all year round, whether on vacation or not. I’m always engaged by queer memoir, and this one sounds unmissable…

Read the whole essay here.

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