Wednesday, May 4, 2016

How to Take a Reading Vacation

Since I'm working on the Summer Reading List, I'm collecting all kinds of reading-related ideas, and this one from Penelope Loves Lists ( is great.


How To Take a Reading Vacation

Ever since I appeared as a guest on Anne Bogel’s What Should I Read Next podcast, the number one thing people have mentioned to me is that they love the idea of the “Reading Vacation” I talked about on the show. And why not?
A Reading Vacation is awesome. Best idea I’ve ever had, maybe.
My Reading Vacations started after I had my youngest son 5 years ago. With a full time job and a new baby, I didn’t have much time to read anymore. #duh
When my favorite author’s newest book came out in the August I had Jackson, I thought wistfully about being able to just sit and read. No one needing me, no one asking me to put my book down. No one spitting up on me. (Though I was enjoying those new baby days, to be sure.)
I promised myself that, the following year when the next book in the series (this series, my favorite), I’d make such a thing happen.
And I did. And it was glorious.

Here’s why I love a Reading Vacation:

  • It can be a blissful splurge or done totally on the cheap.
  • You can go alone or take a (very carefully selected) companion.
  • It can be short or long.
  • It can be done very, very close to home or in some far-flung place.
  • It can be done any time of year. It’s equally awesome to read by a pool as cozied up by a fire in a snowstorm.
Now, I do it every August when the new book in the Gamache series comes out and I look forward to it all year long.
Here’s how you can take a Reading Vacation:
The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

1. Choose your book.

This is a key first step because it lays the foundation for the rest of the trip.
Certain kinds of books, for example, can be read very easily, making them perfect to dip and an out of. If you get interrupted, you can quickly pick up the thread when you go back. Books with short chapters and quick-moving plots make it simple to read for a 1/2 hour and then head out for another excursion.
Other books, however, require long periods of uninterrupted time. They require thought and focus. Interruptions would be an irritation (and maybe grounds for a fight) with these kinds of books.
Also, consider that, if you want to read a thriller that’s going to scare your panties off, you might not want to be travelling alone, reading late into the night by your lonesome in a cabin in the woods. Or maybe you would. Up to you.
Think about whether you want to devour the latest best-seller, or tackle a book you’ve always wanted to read. Which one is going to give you more bang for your buck.
What I like to do is take my “main” book and then, juuuuust in case, pack a back up. With Louise Penny, I’ve never needed that back up, but it calms my Penelope anxiety to know it’s there.
How to Take a Reading Vacation from Penelope Loves Lists

2. Choose your companion, if you want to take one.

There’s a lot to be said for doing this particular retreat alone. If that appeals to you, take this opportunity to do it. You’ll be in complete control of your time without having to consider anyone else’s feelings. And, if you take your book with you, you won’t ever feel awkward eating in a restaurant alone. Built in excuse.
But, if you can’t, or choose not to, go it alone, please consider your companion very carefully.
Nothing will tank your Reading Vacation quicker than choosing the wrong companion.
In short, the right person will:
a) Want to get time to read just as much as you do.
b) Be totally comfortable with long periods of companionable silence.
c) Share your idea about how your time will be spent. Will you go places to read? Stay at the hotel or cabin, etc? Will you punctuate your time with excursions or devote every hour to your book? Do you stay in bed late or go to bed early to read? It sounds dumb, but all these things come into play if you have expectations that are different. TRUST me on this.
d) Or, your companion should be a non-reader who is totally ok keeping him or herself busy while you read. Sort of a parallel vacation, if you will.
A word of caution about going on vacation with someone who is reading the SAME BOOK as you. This can be great, if you read at roughly the same pace. But if you don’t, it can get dicey. One person is then further ahead than the other and you risk that person accidentally giving away plot points. Or it can just be frustrating not to be able to discuss the book at all.
My husband and I have had great luck each reading different books, but ones the other has already read. THEN, we can both be reading and, over meals, etc, we can discuss our books with each other and have lively discussions. This is my favorite way to take a Reading Vacation.

The Oceano Resort in Half Moon Bay CA, my perfect place for a reading vacation

3. Choose your location.

Think carefully about how you most like to read? What is the physical position in which you can do that for the longest periods of time. In bed? In a comfy chair? At a table in a cafe? On a lounge chair by a pool?
Think also about what your preferred level of ambient noise and activity is. Does a too-quiet room freak you out? Are you driven crazy by music or conversation? Do kids running around a pool distract you?
Also, consider what other things you want to do during this little respite. Want to get a massage? Or to be able to pop in easily to a 4-star restaurant or go to a museum? Or is holing up in a tiny beach house, staying in your pajamas all day and doing your own cooking more your style? Your location will dictate how and where you read, so choose carefully.
Half Moon Bay Reading Vacation

4. Consider your budget.

Think carefully about how much you want to spend on this trip. Do you want to keep it minimal and be able to do it more often? Or, do you want to just do it once, or every couple of years, and so, go a bit bigger with your splurge?
Be sure to check with your bank account and your significant other before making plans. You don’t want any regrets after this glorious time away.
Obviously, the perfect Reading Vacation is different for every reader. And that’s part of why I like it so much.
For me, it’s a trip with my husband, who’s my perfect traveling companion. We go to our favorite place in Half Moon Bay, CA, a gorgeous spot called The Oceano Resort and Spa. We each read a different book, but he often reads one I’ve already read, while I read my new Louise Penny book. That way, we can talk about his book in detail. We love doing that.
We eat at our same favorite restaurants each time, because for us, familiarity is comforting and adds to the experience. We get a massage and visit the spot on the beach where we got married in 2001. We sleep late and take things slow. We read for several hours a day, but also walk along the ocean and shop a bit.
For me, that’s the perfect Reading Vacation.
I’d love to know what yours looks like.
PS: Because I love you, here are some additional links to get ideas for the perfect book to take along on your reading vacation:

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