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Vacation Book List

I realized today that I haven’t officially recognized the start of summer vacation on the blog yet. Hooray!

Usually, summer for me means travel time. Sometimes it’s a few short trips, sometimes it’s something bigger (like the cruise in Alaska last summer). Additionally, for the past 7 years, the end of August has always meant a week at the beach with family. Sadly, this year I’m staying close to home for most of July, and the whole family will be missing out on the Outer Banks since our week coincided with my due date. (I still feel horrible about this.)

But just because my vacation plans have been curbed doesn’t mean that the rest of you will be staying home, so I thought I’d pass on my vacation book list: the compilation of literary elements that I always carefully select before a trip that’s a week or longer. I usually choose about 5 books. If I’m going to the beach, I look for them in used bookstores (no point in getting sand in something that costs $12 or more) though I generally treat myself to one or two new releases. During the cruise last summer, I downloaded them to my Kindle to save space. You can also do combinations of the two: pack a couple of paperbacks, and if you don’t have an e-reader, plan to buy a few on the way. Airport bookstores always have copies of the latest thrillers and romances, if nothing else, and many resorts and bed & breakfasts have rotating libraries.

Here’s the list:

1. The latest novel by my favorite summer author. This varies year-to-year, but recent favorites have included Elin Hilderbrand and Kristin Hannah. Jane Green, Sophie Kinsella, Jen Lancaster and Mary Kay Andrews are always standbys.

2. A quick-read thriller. I usually grab the next sequel in the Women’s Murder Club books by James Patterson. Note that I never, ever read these except at the beach. Vacation is also a good time to read Stephen King. If you’re going to read things that scare you, it’s best to do it when it stays light out longer.

3. Something more intellectual, like a history or sociology book. I admit, this is the one I’m least likely to finish by the end of the week, probably because they tend to be slower reads. But it always makes me feel a little more virtuous to bring it along.

4. A fluffy-but-fun chick lit book. I know I’ve said I hate that term, but I actually mean chick lit, not women’s literature. The pastel-cover-featuring-dresses-and/or-cupcakes kind, featuring a heroine who is either plucky or confused about love, or both. I think the best ones I’ve read were Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin. (Of course, I only thought those were chick lit when I started reading them, but they turned out to have much more depth than expected.) A few summers ago, the Twilight series took the place of this category. (Not a series I plan to write about anytime soon.)

5. A work of really strong literature. This could either be something old (a re-read of Animal Farm or The Lord of the Rings) or something current (last summer’s Room). I’m proud to say I generally read this one first.

Comedies, memoirs and biographies sometimes round out the list, but those are the basic components. Stuff a few magazines in the beach bag for good measure, and you’ve got yourself a vacation!

Oh, and don’t forget to have a margarita for me!

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