I've got a vacation coming up, and like the type-A-hiding-in-a-laid-back person I am, I'm creating a list and a schedule of what I want to read on vacation. I have a normal reading schedule of what books come out in what month so I'm not reading too far ahead, but I also have a list of books I want to read for pleasure, and by "for pleasure" I mean without the self-imposed expectation of reviewing. I have them in a folder titled, “WHEE!”
As you might imagine, I read digitally almost exclusively. At no time is this more beneficial than when I travel for more than a few days. I remember vacations when I packed half a suitcase of clothes, while the other half of the suitcase was filled with books. I would mix and match like crazy, making use of two pair of pants and three shirts, all so I could make sure I didn't run out of new books to read.
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Now, when I go on vacation, I load up a digital reader (with duplicate copies of books on my phone) and no longer worry about whether that hardcover book I want to read will make my luggage overweight.
As I was adding up my vacation books, I realized there are some books I've been longing to read and am almost upset with myself that I haven't read them yet. These are the books that make up the bulk of my “WHEE!” folder, meant for enjoying in the most indulgent manner possible: in the sun, with a cocktail and plenty of sunscreen.
Vacation books come with a lot of pressure. The book has to be entertaining, fun and easily picked up and put down. I believe these books are commonly called "beach reads" in marketing material, but I live near enough to the beach that any book I'm reading could become a beach read. The beach isn't that far away. A vacation book, however, is a book that will happily entertain me for a few hours, but will also allow me to put the book down and go do things with my family without too much of the "just five more pages, no, really, just five more" feeling of urgency.
I am shaking my head at myself for building all these expectations on books for vacation, I assure you.
Vacation reading for me is always comprised of books that I know I'm going to really enjoy, that I've been waiting to read, and that I cannot wait to begin. Starting those books is a signal to my brain: “See this book? This book means you are ON VACATION.” I mentioned earlier that I read these books without the expectation of review, but nine times out of 10, I will review them because I enjoy them so much I have to share that giddy reading feeling with everyone.
So what's in my vacation “WHEE!” folder for this year's summer vacation?
The Pink Carnation series from Lauren Willig. Historical intrigue, spies, comedy and romance? Yes, please!
And yes, I know, I know. Clearly I've lost my mind that I haven't read these books yet. I am a little embarrassed. I've heard Lauren Willig read TWO different sections of her books aloud at Lady Jane's Salon in New York. I hosted a "Write the Missing Sex Scene" contest to come up with cover art for her bonus Christmas story The Mischief of the Mistletoe, featuring the sexytimes of a truly adorable hero named Turnip. I've read enough pieces of her series to know I will like them. I know people whose tastes line up with mine have squeed without limit about the series. I should have read these by now. But no, I haven't.
Behold: vacation reading I KNOW I am going to enjoy tremendously. This is why the folder is named “WHEE!”
I use a lot of food analogies when I talk about books, and vacation reading is no exception. Vacation reading is like dessert, a really, really GOOD dessert, one that's not too rich and not too light, so perfect and delicious that you can't stop enjoying spoonful after spoonful. Plus, dessert is so often a reward, and there is nothing more deserving of reward than the work it takes to get four people, including two children, packed and ready to fly to a faraway, warm and enjoyable place. Being the grown-up on vacation means a lot of responsibility before the vacation—and thus the reward is well earned!
I think the Willig series will be perfect vacation reading. The only problem: there are nine books and two short novellas in the series. I'll be hard to wait until I leave on vacation to read them, and my vacation is only a week. Perhaps I should start now. I should start now, shouldn't I? It'll be good preparation. And if we forget socks and underwear because I'm too busy reading, that's not a big deal. Right?
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.