Many Faces of Candice / The Writer's Life

I Pack My Books More Carefully Than I Pack My Clothes

One thing I realized while packing for my last business trip: I pack my books more carefully than I pack my clothes. Now, before you even ask, I do have a Kindle, which makes packing books a little easier. I am, however, a proponent of packing actual books for a couple of reasons.

  1. I just like books. Real books. Books you can hold and smell and highlight and write in and dog ear and bookmark and crack the spine. Books you can spill chicory coffee on. Books that tell stories other than the ones written on the pages.
  2. Have you ever been on an airplane, engrossed in a terrific story on your Kindle, one you just can’t put down, when the flight attendant comes over the intercom and says, “In preparation for takeoff, please turn off all electronic devices”? Yeah, me too.

So, I had my suitcase all laid out, systematically packing clothes and bathroom supplies, and all I could think about was which books I was going to bring. I can only have two carryon bags (a bag and a personal item, like a purse), so if I bring larger bags, I can fit more books. But the more books I bring, the heavier the bags will be, and heavy bags are not fun to lug around the airport, especially when you’re rushing to catch a connecting flight. And I NEVER stow my books in my checked luggage, for fear of them getting lost. Herein lies my dilemma. Do I bring bigger bags and more books, or do I go for efficiency? This trip, I did a little bit of both.

In my large purse, I always carry my Bibles (my handy dandy notebook and Susan Larson’s The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans) and my Kindle. This time, I also added Justin Torres’s We the Animals. Between those four items and the rest of my regular purse items, that left no more room, so I turned to my book bag next. This is a work trip, so I had to carry my work laptop. I also had to bring my personal laptop for writing and watching TV online. Add in headphones, my portable speaker, snacks, a variety of chargers, sticky notes (I don’t leave home without them), my glasses, jewelry, another notebook, and a change of clothes (in case of lost luggage), and that didn’t leave much room. I managed to fit in Marty Sklar’s Dream It, Do It, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and the newest issues of The Writer, Writer’s Digest, The Oxford American, Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Yearbook, and Writer’s Digest Writer’s Workbook magazines. Add in the newest issues of Poets & Writers and The New Yorker along with Leonard Kinsey’s The Dark Side of Disney, Jim Korkis’s The Revised Vault of Walt, George R.R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Erika Robuck’s Call Me Zelda from my Kindle, and I was set with a plethora of reading material for my trip! (I of course have many other books on my Kindle. These are just the ones I’m reading currently.)

An observation about my selections: I’m really into Disney, the craft of writing, and the lives of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Also, I REALLY like to read, and many books, all at the same time. My mother used to call me Johnny Five growing up because I reminded her of the robot from the movie Short Circuit. He was always reading books extremely fast and exclaiming, “INPUT, LOVE INPUT!”

What books do you pack when going on a trip, work or pleasure? Do you just bring an e-reader, or do you pack physical books?

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