Choosing Books to Read Along The Way

Today I took my paperback copy of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and ripped it in half and then ripped each piece in half again. I have never before ripped up a book. As a lifelong bibliophile I’ve always felt a certain sense of sacredness around all books, even something as pedestrian as the phone book. I never imagined myself disliking a book so much that I would feel compelled to destroy it.

Lots of other folks, far more articulate than myself, have already attacked The Happiness Project for Rubin’s personal wealth and the way in which it was acquired; however, I want to distance myself from those critics. Plenty of our great writers over the years fit Rubin’s socioeconmic portrait, and to critique her for being not-quite-happy-enough while being born to privilege is a bit unfair since that concept is one of the mains reasons why we are all watching Downton Abbey week after week. Rather, let’s just look at the text itself.

Rubin says that unhappy people get a rush of energy from being unkind to others (the Gweneth Paltrow effect), but if by chance you ever read this, Gretchen Rubin, it’s not you I don’t like ( I don’t know you) its that I find the persona you have created in The Happiness Project to be highly unlikable. How many times do we have to hear that you once clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor? Trust that your reader is smart enough to discern your intellectual capabilities, we are after all reading your book and looking to you for some sagely advice. Moreover, know your audience. Most of your readers are middle class and your pretentious  side comments, most memorable being the one about bargain clutter and how you don’t personally suffer from this problem but, you knows other people who do, creates an unnecessarily deep divide between you and your reader.

There was something  titillating and liberating about ripping apart this book, similar to the feeling of cutting a Barbie doll’s hair or giving your porcelain faced baby doll the chicken pox with some red nail polish (both of which I did as a child). My anger at this one, rather silly paperback, is part of a deeper frustration in my increasing inability to find a good read. My book club month after month seems equally discontented with all of our choices.  Even books like Jeffery Eugenides The Marriage Plot, which was reviewed as one of the best books of the year, felt very predictable (And in the even more unlikely chance the Eugenides ever reads my blog: please know that I think Middlesex best book of the 21st. C., so far, and perhaps this is why I found The Marriage Plot to be such a let down).

My inability to choose a good read and tonight’s bibliocide has led me to ponder purchasing a Kindle, something I would have never before considered.  It’s important for us to have some books with us along for the journey and its agonizing trying to decide what texts to lug with us as we head on our three week trip across the British countryside. With limited space available to us, we can’t take any chances with our literature. I don’t know what I would do if I were stuck for three weeks with a book I detested. Furthermore, we devour books. I don’t think we’re going to have enough room to bring along multiple texts.

So if you have any thoughts on good reads or thoughts about backpacking with a Kindle in a foreign country, I’d love to hear your insights.


About 30 Ways of Walking

Gina Liotta's writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, Slate, The Paterson Literary Review, LIPS, and The Healing Muse, among others. She lives, writes and teaches in New York.
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203 Responses to Choosing Books to Read Along The Way

  1. shornrapunzel says:

    I too have only once ripped up a book (on purpose, that is. I did have a copy of “The Diary of Anne Frank” that met with a rather unfortunate disintegration I tried with some despair to rectify), and it was Aphra Behn’s “Oroonoko.” It was at a party at the end of a term during which my Senior Honors Thesis class worked through that stupid “novel” for 4-5 weeks, and we were all so sick of it that we not only ripped it, but burned several of the pages in one of our classmates’ fireplaces. I’m only slightly ashamed of this.
    I devoured both Elizabeth Kostova’s “The Historian” (modern search for Dracula carried out by academics – a fluffy but addictive read) and the Hunger Games trilogy. Not because either were the best written or aesthetically amazing tomes, but because I found the narratives captivating and escapist.
    Nick would tell you (I think) that he loves his Kindle, but they are sufficiently fragile that hikers and backpackers have despaired the possibility of dropping and thereby destroying them. If you’re not planning on dropping it, or having it out as you perch precariously on the edge of a cliff to read a few chapters, I’d guess it will be just fine.

    • Thanks! I had to read Rubin’s book for work and I guess it’s when we are forced to read or to glorify a text that we react so passionately. I’ve read plenty of worse books and never felt that urge (or maybe its because most of the books I read are library books and I could not bear the thought of doing that to the library). Thanks for your recommendations and am in the process of posting some of my questions to Twitter to see how others fair in the Kindle-on-a-hiking-trip scenario.

  2. thanks for the reviews. i have heard similar ones regarding “the marriage plot”. i am adding “evolving in monkey town” to my Kindle reads. right now, Pride & Prejudice. First time reading it.

  3. 4myskin says:

    I really dislike reading books that are “great, amazing, etc”…but not really. Personally, I had to read “The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, and it’s a good thing I borrowed the book. Something disasterous might have happened to it otherwise…

  4. I’ve never had a problem finding a good book to read. The problem, to me, seems to be that there are too many of them! But if you haven’t already, I suggest you go backwards in time and start digging there. I do that with music myself, since I think modern day music is just too monotone and, frankly, boring. Considering how long the history of the written word is, there should be enough for anyone out there…

    • That’s a wonderful suggestion. There are so many “great books” that I have yet to read. I often find myself almost afraid to pick up books that I have read before in fear of the time I might “waste” in re-reading, but actually there is such a strong comfort in the process of re-familiarizing ourself with our favorite words. Thank you for following along.

      • Oh, I actually meant old books. Historically. But re-reading favourites can be wonderful too! I think you should always allow yourself to revisit old favourites, especially after reading a really bad novel, so you can remind yourself why you love reading.

  5. susielindau says:

    I have a Nook and I love it! You certainly would have a tough time ripping it apart. Hahaha! I hope that when my book gets published, no one hates on it quite like that….
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Thank you! What you say about the Nook is so true! I am sure that when your book is published it will be adored by all. I feel bad because I didn’t hate the book that much, it was more the thrill of realizing that as an adult I could make these choices over my possessions (the joy of cutting Barbie’s hair, etc). Thank you for your comments.

  6. Not buying it.

    If you dislike her — as narrator/narrative voice — the book is not for you. Every book we read isi de facto created by and colored by the person who wrote it and by their perspective, whether you share it or like or admire it. Every book (and every writer, as you, being a professional in this field know all too well) is heavily edited and revised, so the POV therein is also that approved of by our editors, agents and publishers.

    My memoir has provoked some similar hostility from readers, for some of the same reasons. The content remains valid, as do our conclusions. Whether readers “like” us…irrelevant.

    • Absolutely, all narrators are a collaboration among the writer, the publisher, the editor, etc. As you astutely point out, one needs not be liked by the reader, but rather one needs to have readers. Thank you for bringing attention to you memoir, Mailed. Having spent a few years in retail, I am sure that I can relate. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  7. I just got a kindle for the very reason you cited: I was tired of finding myself away from home with a book I wasn’t excited about. No matter how hard I try to project myself into that new place while I’m getting ready for the journey, I have a hard time predicting what my mindset will be when I get there. I’m hoping that bringing a whole library with me in one hand-held device will solve the problem! Nice post!

    • Yes, when I was a child and travelled on long car trips with my parents, I felt that I could reasonably predict what I would want to read along the way. Of course my reading interests were narrow: Sweet Valley High and The Baby-sitters Club. Now, I am just too darn picky. When traveling through Europe for the first time, however, I only brought Bleak House with me, because it was a book that I had started and wanted to force myself to finish. I enjoyed it immensely, but I probably wouldn’t have had the persistence to finish it, if I hadn’t left myself with any other options. My worry with the kindle is that it will lead to more readerly promiscuity. But, I’m still on the fence and will let you know what I decide. Thank you for following along.

  8. pezcita says:

    Kindle craze looks like it’s here to stay, and I would certainly buy one if I could afford it. What was once a monstrous, dead-weight, make-you-want-to-swear-off-books backpack is now a sleek little purse-sized machine. Brilliant!

    That said, if I were taking such a trip without the bliss of electronics, I would probably take my two volume Don Quijote (the Spanish version). Split up and in paperback, it’s not heavy at all for a 1000 page book.

    • Yes, you have expertly hit on one of my other concerns. I would love to have three weeks that are relatively electronics free. Don Quijote is another text that I have always wanted to read (but, for me it would have to be the English translation). Thanks for reminding me of that!

      • pezcita says:

        It’s a great book in any language. The humor loses very little in translation, and many of the older English versions have charming pen-and-ink illustrations.

  9. I understand the fear of traveling without a good book. I know plenty of people who travel with no intention of reading and that is ludicrous to me. I recently spent a year in a foreign country; one which doesn’t speak English. It was difficult to find a good read in this country. I did some research and decided to give into the Kindle, and I wont go back. I love the feel of turning pages and the smell of books, but to travel with a Kindle is a genius idea. I chose it because you can download books in other countries, but the Nook (because it is a .us company) you can’t or couldn’t download a book outside of the US. It is also pounds lighter than carrying 2 to 3 paperback novels, and you can read it in the sunlight. Another great thing about electronic readers is that classics are free. I currently don’t travel anywhere without Jayne Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.

  10. gloriadelia says:

    So, you read while you hike? I so, it sounds a bit tricky. I’ve always wanted to hike across England. I’ll have to read more of your posts and hike vicariously through you. =]

    • No, I am not the talented. In fact, I am quite clumsy (see my earlier posts). Rather, I’d like to have something to read while in transit (planes and trains) and at night before bed. I am nervous, excited and invigorated about the trip; thank you for your support and for following along.

  11. I personally bought a Kindle for my trip to Spain (I’m here three months and Spanish is my approaching my second language). It was one of the best decisions I ever made. It works perfectly fine here (I’m from the states) and I use it all the time. PLUS, a lot of older books are available for free.

    • Yes, that’s one of the benefits of Kindle that I seem to have forgotten (the public domain texts are free). I still need to think it through some more, but thank you for sharing your experiences and for reading along.

  12. I’m in no book club, and not a lit major, but I have been devouring Wally Lamb’s Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters. I’m eager to check out Middlesex at your recommendation!

    • Thank you for the recommendation. Middlesex, in my humble opinion, was the best 21st C. novel that I have read. There are others that I deeply enjoyed (Franzen’s Freedom and Diaz’s Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao), but Middlesex was brilliant because it gave you a unique narrative voice and a full cross section of social class perspectives on 20th C. American history.

  13. lucindalines says:

    I have Rubin’s book in hard copy, and I have been feeling badly that I can’t live up to some of her ideas. Thanks for your thoughts, I think I finally understand what is wrong with me. Ha, I should realize that not all books because they are published are worth sinking your teeth into. Thanks again. I gained much from reading The Help, and it was not necessarily just about Civil Rights.

    • I like to think that choosing the right book is like choosing the right partner, it doesn’t matter what others think, as long as you find the right one for you. Never let the author, of any book, make you, the reader feel subservient. Thank you for your thoughtful post and for following along.

  14. sbuckleit says:

    Have you read the Book Thief, by Markus Zusak? It made me laugh, cry, and fall in love. I’d certainly suggest that one for a backpacking trip.

  15. latifahm says:

    I truly understand that feeling of let down from a piece of literature. I think I wanted to rip up Chris Cleave’s novel “Little Bee”. However, I do work at a book store so I am always trying to keep up with what is going on in the world of books and I have read some truly amazing works. One that I will suggest to you that I think was a book that did not get enough praise and I am dying to see more work from this author is “Madonna’s of Echo Park” by Brando Skyhorse. Honestly, it is poetic in nature and a piece of literature that leaves you almost breathless. You should truly consider this novel and let me know what you think.

    • Ooooooh this looks FANTASTIC! Thank you for the suggestion and I will most certainly get back to you. I have never worked in a bookstore or a library, but I imagine that working in one of these institutions allows to become familiar with some incredible books, books that others might often miss. Thank you for reading and following along.

  16. mwebster76 says:

    I, too, am in the depths of despair (thank you, Anne Shirley) regarding the difficulty I’m having of late when it comes to finding a “good read.” It almost seems like YA novels are the only novels worth reading anymore. Could it be that writers writing for the adult audience have simply run out of interesting things to say? Or, have all of the “good” writers migrated toward the YA audience?

  17. A Cynical Me says:

    I agree, the Hunger games is excellent. I also recommend “Chaos walking” by Patrick Ness. Also, I have a Kindle, and I find it’s great. The books are (in general) cheaper, it’s just as easy to read from, and it by no means takes away from the experience of reading. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Thank you for your kind words. I am behind in my YA reading and need to get on The Hunger Games trilogy. I just bought them for my Godson and probably should have read them, before passing them along. Thank you for following along.

  18. Congrats on making freshly pressed. Please follow my blog ThisTrailerSucks.Com , THANKS!

  19. df says:

    I found this whole post very liberating and refreshingly honest; good for you for committing such an atrocious act on a work of words that offended you so much! Books have been destroyed for much sillier and baser reasons, and I found your explanation quite understandable. Haven’t read the book, but can imagine I’d have a similar reaction.
    Abel’s Island by William Steig is a perfect book in my estimation (and shouldn’t be relegated to just children’s fiction) and deals very openly with a life of privilege in its own way. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead to me is a nearly perfect book (there is a section in the middle dealing with a major character that removes him from the main setting and aim of the book and it always frustrates me), In terms of new books, I couldn’t put down Room by Emma Donoghoe, and a few years back I got very caught up in Far North by Marcel Theroux, a rather bleak but very engaging novel about where we might be headed.

    • Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. I hadn’t imagined when writing this post that I would receive so many terrific reading recommendations. Abel’s Island sounds wonderful and I promise to keep you posted about it when I take it out of the library. Thanks again for reading along.

      • df says:

        I would love to get your reaction to Abel’s Island when you’ve read it! I’m afraid I can’t comment on the Kindle as I’m still a paper-based person when it comes to books, but I can see the advantages and think that the technology brings the idea of ‘trading’ books up to date in a new way. Many years ago when I was travelling for long periods I relied on physically trading copies of books with other travellers to keep up my reading stock while away from home, and that was a neat way to go. Good luck in putting together a new list of titles that inspires you!

  20. Hana says:

    I would recommend Kindle. Kindly is my guilty pleasure. 🙂 I wrote a post about it on my blog the other day. Why it is a guilty pleasure is greatly-convenient-purchase at any time of the day but Kindle makes me spend more money on books. It is certainly a pleasure having a Kindle but guilty on the economic side.

    • Yes, that’s one thing that could become a problem for me. But I suppose there are worse things in life then being addicted to books 🙂 Thank you for your honest assessment of the Kindle and for following along.

  21. Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver- Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Mexico and Trotsky. One of the most beautifully written novels I have ever read. Its nearly 700 pages… and not a word out of place.

  22. There have been may books that I have wanted to rip apart (I’m looking at you Twilight!) and I am glad that I have not had the misfortune to read something that sounds absolutely turgid. Your post filled me with grim amusement and I am compelled to cyber salute you. 😀

  23. Monica says:

    I can’t say I’ve ever destroyed a book on purpose but I can say I’ve never pushed myself to read something I wasn’t sure I’d like in the first place so “hat’s off” to you for doing so.

    As a book lover and avid reader, I probably go against the bibliophile’s grain when I say I think there is room in this world for both a Kindle (or any e-reader) and for books. My Kindle is wonderful for travel. To be able to download and save several books for a long journey, without having to carry that weight, is a Godsend. I’ve been known to read up to 14 books on a two week vacation and that’s a lot of weight to carry around. Plus, I download a lot of free books on my Kindle and have discovered a ton of new talent I might not have discovered otherwise.

    On the other hand, I LOVE books. I love the feel, the smell, the texture of a book whether it’s old or new. I just started an online book store and I vacillate each time I find a good book I think I’d like…should I read it and diminish it’s value? Should I keep it and add it to my collection? I think I’m veering off track here…sorry.

    Good reads? Have you read The Submission by Amy Waldman? It’s on my “to-read” list. I’d tell you to grab Stephen King’s latest, 11/22/63 because I’m enjoying it immensely but it’s too huge to pack around. Whatever you choose to read, good luck to you and happy travels!

    • I don’t think you’re veering off track at all! I think that the new question of the 21st C. reader is what to download, what to borrow and what to buy. I think we’ll see a new way of thinking about literature in much the same ways that the early years of paperback publishing enabled readers to distinguish between their own “high” and “low brow” tastes. Thank you for your kind words about our trip and I will certainly check out your reading suggestions.

  24. It’s nice to see another have such difficulty finding a good read in today’s time. I’m not all gaining joy from your pain, mind you, it’s just nice to know I’m not alone.

    Last year I read The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, and I instantly fell in love with it. It’s a bit weird, but so is magic, and I’d say Bulgakov’s brilliant satire is indeed magical.

    Another a good read is a book I found laying on the floor in the hallway at my parent’s house: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. A little different, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a book that felt like the author was speaking directly to me until I picked up Blue Like Jazz. A wonderful read.

    As for a Kindle…your predicament makes sense for you to carry a Kindle, but I’m too in love with books to replace them with a piece of technology that has so little personality.

    Thanks for the post and congratulations on getting freshly pressed!

    • You hit my sentiments, exactly. Reading is such a private act, yet we read to feel connected. It’s particularly troublesome when you hit a few books, in a row, that make you feel out of touch with the time in which you are living. Blue Like Jazz seems intriguing, I appreciate all of the recommendations. Thank you for reading and following along. I look forward to checking out your blog.

  25. micahkavros says:

    Interesting post. I, myself, like to go on Amazon and browse the books with great reviews. I remembered “The Happiness Project,” having great ratings, and later I would buy it for $2 in the used books section of my library. I haven’t really started reading it, but after reading your thoughts on it, it sounds about right. Don’t think I’ll ever open it, i’ll stick to the classics: How to Win Friends and Influence People, Think and Grow Rich, and a mix of Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. These usual keep me in a inspired/motivated state. Keep up the writing!

    If your interested, I’m blogging my journey toward 6 pack abs, any support/feedback would be greatly appreciated!!/pages/Micahs-Transformation/176744389105228


    • Thank you for your kind words. By no means should you take my thoughts on The Happiness Project to heart. We should all be voracious and promiscuous readers. Read it and let me know what you think. I promise to check out your blog. Thanks for following along.

  26. Hi: I haven’t backpacked with my kindle 3 (now the keyboard kindle) but I have car camped with it for a week and I have traveled all over the world with it. It would be great for backpacking. Is this the type of backpacking where you occassionally (or nightly) stop and sleep indoors? Because your kindle MAY make it for the full three weeks on one charge – this will depend on how much you use it. If you read 4 hours a night (which, on a backpacking trip you might) it might need a recharge. Avoid turning on the 3g or wireless – this runs down the battery quickly. Also, get a good cover for it – something stiff like that Amazon cover with the built in light is good (I have one), maybe also put in a plastic bag in your pack to protect from moisture, make sure to put it on screensaver/sleep when you put it down (this avoids putting pressure on random keys which can lock things up for awhile), and overall, avoid putting the kindle under pressure – such as in the middle of a tightly pack bag. You might want to put it on the top of the stuff in your pack in the plastic bag. I love mine and it is excellent for book hounds who crave and require massive amounts of reading material but don’t want to lug 20 lbs of books, Ruby

    • I am not sure about the ability to charge. We will be spending the night in hotels, but because we will be in the UK, we might need to get a special adapter (another reason we’re hesitant to make the transfer). I appreciate your recommendations about the cover and the battery life. Thank you for reading and following along with our journey.

  27. deenie12 says:

    I, too, was a bit let down by ‘The Marriage Plot’… but not by ‘The Art of Fielding’, Chad Harbach. It helped that I love baseball, but it’s an all-around excellent book. That, and ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’, Muriel Barbery, have been the best books I’ve read in the last 5 years.

  28. robertajune says:

    A couple of good reads came my way recently when I was having a similar problem – nearly ripped up The Other Boleyn Girl – sorry, just couldn’t get it. Rebecca Solnit’s WANDERLUST is absorbing, in fact I just quoted from it in a recent post. Jonathan Franzen’s FREEDOM was worth ploughing through as is anything by Colm Toibin. Might I also suggest trying some ethnographies? They’re not as dry as they sound and the most readable are formed from narratives. Rather than list my own preferences, any anthropology reading list would be a good guide. And share your angst about a kindle – still haven’t bought one and really do not wish to. Really enjoying your blog 🙂 Thanks.

  29. very passionate post on this book and interesting views. blessings to you.

  30. thenotwriter says:

    I have an iPad on which I have the Nook and iBooks apps. Altho I do prefer a physical book, ebooks are very convenient for traveling. I used my iPad when we went on vacation to cape cod, and altho traveling by car and staying in a hotel left me more room to pack books then you will have backpacking, it was a lot better then packing another suitcase of just books and having the ass end of my Toyota dragging on the pavement all the way across Massachusetts from the extra weight.

    • Yes, we’re in the process of migrating to iPads at work, which is part of my hesitancy to get a Kindle. It would be safer; however, to travel with my own electronic devices, if I travel with any at all. My husband and I shipped 36 boxes of books cross country, twice (in the days before Kindle) and should we ever move again, we will probably want to have the option of downloading our favorite texts and donating the rest of the books to the library or local bookshop.

  31. Happy travels! I’ve got a goal of reading 50 books in 2012 and have been posting one review/week on my blog. Recent read that I really enjoyed was The Night Circus.
    Have you thought about looking into if any of the small towns you’ll be in have a book exchange? Sometimes hostels/hotels even let you take a book/leave a book. Maybe you could buy a bunch of used paperbacks, read them along the way, and leave them at places for others.

  32. Wow! The book must have been really bad to commit bibliocide! The writer sounds a bit narcissistic, no?

    • Well, I wouldn’t say that it was the worst book that I had read. Rather, I was frustrated by the compounding list of recently read, disappointing books. The narrative voice was not appealing, but as another reader astutely pointed out, the narrative voice is always a bit of an artificial construct. Gretchen Rubin, if you’re reading, remember I don’t know you, it’s not you that I don’t like, it’s the narrative voice.

      Thanks for reading and following along!

  33. Liz says:

    One of my favorite books all time is called Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. It is a magical piece of fiction that takes on so many voices and times that I think it would make a fine book for a journey such as yours.

    Doesn’t it take strong pair of hands to tear a book to shreds? That’s always been my impression, at least, which is why I’ve never considered trying. But now I’m intrigued…

    • Thank you for your recommendation. I have read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and should probably return to Safran Foer, again.

      To be fair, it was a paperback, not a hardcover. I am a weakling and if you peruse my other posts you’ll see that I am not physically strong, so I think you’ll be just fine, should you choose to try 🙂 Thanks for reading and following along.

  34. Sheila Hurst says:

    I don’t really like technology and don’t even use a cell phone, but Kindles seem like a good form of technology. Most of the classics are free and so it pays for itself after a while. So far I’ve loaded mine up with just the free classics and poems. I love having my own little library in there. The only hard part then is deciding which book to read (but that’s always been a problem anyway).

    • Yes, I am a bit resistant to technology myself, but I am realizing that my local library allows access to a lot of the newer e-books and it seems like the Kindle might be cost efficient. As much as I love going to the library, the convenience of supporting my library from wherever I travel seems to be too good to be true. Thank you for following along!

  35. rp71 says:

    I strongly feel tearing a book is desecration (unless you meant tearing the book figuratively).

    I am still old-school and prefer reading on paper. I still cant get myself to read a book in Kindle / Nook…

    I prefer reading light & speedy stuff when I am travelling. See my post on my 3 favorites for interesting and engrossing, yet light read:

  36. Kevin says:

    I am the sort of reader that must be captured very early on. The nice thing about the Kindle is that you can get a free sample of the book and then decide if you’d like to make the purchase. It’s also easy to read in sunlight. If you’re looking for a good read, I would recommend “Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks.

  37. I, too, have never ripped apart a book, but I can imagine how liberating it was.
    The best I can do now is delete it from my Kindle with a flourish then post a 1 star review. Neither of which is that satisfying. Still have to live with the knowledge of good time wasted. 🙂

    I would weigh in on the ereader debate with a vote for the Kindle. My MIL bought one specifically for traveling and took hers to China. On the other hand, another relative got a Nook since downloading books from Amazon is not that easy in SKorea. So, it depends on where you want to get your books from. Both offer great lending and easy reading capabilities without the strain on the eyes from LCD screens (though you will want a cover and attachable light). Good luck!

  38. einefeistyberg says:

    Yes, I confess, I once destroyed a book. It gave me such a bad taste, I didn’t want to pass it on to anyone else. Totally out of character for me.
    I love the name of your blog. I want to walk across England.
    Enough about me. You have the best of reasons for acquiring a Kindle or something similar; Hope you have it already.

    • Good to know that I am not alone! Thank you for your kind words about the title. This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, for us. I hope you get to take a similar one, sometime soon. Thanks for reading and following along.

  39. Too bad I already bought the paperback issue of the The Happiness Project. But anyway, I’ll see how worthy my 6 dollars had spent.

    • Yes, please do read The Happiness Project and make up your own mind. I would hate for anyone to read my post and then not read the novel. It’s best that we all make up our own minds. I hope you enjoy it more than I did. Thanks for reading and following along.

  40. I love Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Also, I think Kate DiCamillo’s books (The Tale of Despereaux, The Magician’s Elephant, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane), though for young adults, are beautiful stories, ones that I’ve reread several times. Currently, I’m reading the Know-it-all by A.J. Jacobs, a nonfiction “memoir” of reading the encyclopedia. It’s pretty good – light, funny, and educational.

  41. food4five says:

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. Your journey looks like it will be great. I have a Nook Color and have used it for travel and camping, as well as my daily commute. Lots of free books, and ones to borrow from the library, plus my New Yorker subscription meann I always have something to read! Now I also read “real” books at home, but rely on electronic when away. BTW, converter plugs are cheap, small, and easy to pack.

  42. Gail says:

    I recently read Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” in the book club I’m in. I’ll just say it wasn’t one of our groups favorite books. She lost me in the first month of her decluttering rampage. I had to FORCE myself to finish the book and finish it I did and was sorry in the end as it got worse instead of better in my opinion. It quickly went into my pile of books to give away! As far as books I’ve read recently that I really liked… I read “Water for Elephants” and really enjoyed it. I’m fixing to start “Night Circus” and I’ve heard good things about it. (Yes, I’m on a circus theme lately).

  43. natashafisher says:

    What a wonderful blog and conversation! I was in an Excel class earlier today and during the boring times, I would pull up and read your blog and the comments. I’ve been waiting all day to chime in. 🙂 I love being a writer and I love being addicted to books, and I feel a fuzzy sense of connection to others who posted here today.

    When e-book readers first came out, I was adamant about NOT getting one…then, like you, we moved. And, to make matters worse, we moved into a smaller place. I eventually got enough bookshelves to hold them all but my appetite for purchasing books never waned. Then three things happened that changed my outlook on reading life:
    – I read two books in a row that I spent my hard-earned dollars on and absolutely hated
    – I was introduced to the world of book collecting
    – My husband bought me a Kindle

    I can honestly say that I LOVE my Kindle. I can try-out new books without wasting money (thank goodness b/c so far all of the ones that I’ve gotten from the free store have been horrible). The classics are free and I’ve already read several that I’ve always wanted to read but never had (like Anne of Green Gables – such a refreshing story!) I can change my mind mid-chapter and read a different book (which doesn’t necessarily help me practice project completion lol). I can read a book and THEN decide if I want to purchase the Collector’s Edition of it (which is helping me tame my library from an unruly beast into a civilized asset). My Kindle syncs w/my PC and my android phone so even if I accidentally forgot my Kindle and I’m stuck somewhere, I can still read (and reading on my phone isn’t nearly as painful as I thought it’d be). I’ve taken it to many places, including the beach (skeptically), and while I would hesitate on taking it on a hardcore hike, they do make nice covers for it that should protect it from basic woes. I would definitely take it backpacking, though. I take it every time I travel. 🙂

    Good luck! Thanks for sharing! And congrats on being freshly pressed!
    PS. I can’t wait to try out some of the books others have suggested here that I haven’t read yet. Fun!

    • I am so glad to hear that others are reading through the thread and finding great suggestions! This is the internet at its best. Although I feel bad for your instructor of the Excel class (having been on his or her side of the classroom), I would by lying if I didn’t say that it was so flattering to hear that you enjoyed reading my entries enough to browse through them while in class. Thank you for sharing your story! Thanks for following along.

  44. I feel your pain. It feels as if we’re in a good-book drought. Time and time again, I buy or borrow a book that is purportedly ‘excellent’ and am left sorely disappointed. However, there are a few gems out there if you’re willing to look hard enough. I personally recommend ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho and ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel. Both are wonderful inspirations embedded within wonderful stories. I don’t think you can go wrong with Mark Twain either; I absolutely adore his ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘Adventures of Tom Sawyer’.

  45. Sarah Harris says:

    Hmmm, I have that book on my shelf and will probably still read it at some point to see what the hype is all about, but at least if it’s not as hot as I thought it should be, I’ll get it and not think “or am I so stupid I am the only one not happier after reading the book?!” I will never get a kindle. I love my iphone and computers but not to replace books. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book!

    • Absolutely! I would hate for anyone to read my post and think that I was discouraging others from reading The Happiness Project and making up their own mind. Please read and I hope that you have a better experience with it! Thanks for reading and following along!

  46. howanxious says:

    It does happen many a times that I want to rip apart a book which I am not liking at all. But somehow, I do not lose control and just put that book away from my sight. Moreover, nowadays I have started reading e-books, in which case if you’re not liking a book, you can close down the window… as simple as that. The book is gone and you’re free. 😀

  47. Hi, I am from India, and Amazon doesnt have operations here, but I got the Kindle from one of my friends when he was returning from the US.

    It is awesome.

    I travelled extensively as a part of my job, and it was very handy. Get a leather cover ( for it – useful in rugged outdoors.

    Also, kindle formats of all classics are availabel from Project Gutenberg website.

    Regarding books, here is a short list I recommend –
    Catch 22 – Joesph Heller
    The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
    Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
    Lord of the Flies – William Golding

    Also, I have discovered that books which are made into movies are generally better than the movie. And sometimes can make the movie experience richer. Example – The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.

    Don’t know how many have you read among these, but hope it helps. Enjoy !

    • Yes, there are so many “Great Books” that I have not read, Catch 22 being one of them. I appreciate all of the great reading recommendations and reminders! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  48. I worked overseas for 6 years – in two countries – neither of them having a newsagency or a book store. In my fourth year, I discovered the e-book. I didn’t go the Kindle because of our internet issues – no point getting a product when you can’t use one of the biggest features – however the Sony E-book suited me. When we had internet i would go online on my laptop and download a dozen – 2 dozen books. Some lengthy (and I am guilty of being a book length snob… lots of pages to me indicates I may be kept occupied for DAYS!) and some short. Some full of drama – some light ‘chick lit’ and others a little whimsical or nonsense. I found it a small adjustment to not have a page to turn. To not having that 60 mins in a bookstore reading the back cover – being titilated by the cover art, discovering that I had suddenly read the first 10 pages and being hooked. BUT! I discovered that going to the e-book site put me in front of novels and authors I would never have found in my well worn predictable path in the book shop. I discovered Jasper Fford and loved the way his stories had an underlying message that made me think long after I finished the book. I read short books on physics for the everyday person, how would I live in Medieval times and lengthy tomes that were part of a series by a beloved author.

    And I got to keep them. All of them. That one little unit was with me constantly – on flights, in airports, at the lunch table, beside my bed. I no longer had stacks of books, kilograms of paper and space taken up in my bag. I no longer had to break my heart to choose between favourite books when I just couldn’t fit anything more in my bag when moving between remote sites. I now had the ability to carry 50,000 books with me. True heaven.

    My books are downloaded on my lap top and I can store them on a hard drive – then upload at will to my unit. So if I lose the unit? No big deal — buy a new one – upload from my hard drive and life continues – blessedly – as normal. The universe can stay on it’s course – because I have my books.

    I love a good book shelf – and I do find now that I have come back home to Australia for the foreseeable future that I have started to acquire actual books again – a quandry for me – because now I won’t have those on me if I travel…. but I made a deal with myself. Books that are given to me by friends, strangers and work place book exchange shelves in the lunch room … those I will read, keep, pass on (or throw away as in the case of one very bad excuse for a novel recently) but if I am purchasing a book – it is electronic — so that I can carry it with me, close to my eyeballs, always.

    Enjoy your new foray into the electronic book. It will take some adjustment – but I believe everyone should have the ability to carry 50,000 books with them in their cargo pocket. You just never know when you are going to be stranded – waiting for a bus.

    Be well

    • This sounds like it could be the begining of an excellent book for you, to write: “Enjoy your new foray into the electronic book. It will take some adjustment – but I believe everyone should have the ability to carry 50,000 books with them in their cargo pocket. You just never know when you are going to be stranded – waiting for a bus.” I think you could persuade ANYONE to buy a Kindle! Thank you for reading and following along!

  49. never ripped my books so far, but looking forward to it. hopefully will do it soon

  50. I’ve been living in Australia for almost a year, and since I can’t live without my favorite books, I had to give in and get a Kindle. I prefer the smell and feel of a real book, so only a long trip like this would have made me buy one. Sure, I visit the local library, but they don’t always carry certain books I like from home. The UK publishers don’t always have the same stuff that the U.S. ones do. So, between the library and my Kindle, I’ve done quite well!

    It’s also handy that you can get tons of free books off of Amazon or Project Gutenberg. The links are listed on Amazon, for the other free book websites. Or you could pay $5 or less for a collection of every book ever written by Mark Twain or L. Frank Baum, for example, and the price you’re paying is to get the good Table of Contents that allows you to navigate. I think I have a couple thousand books on my Kindle, some of which I’ve never even heard of, but they were free, so why not collect them, and see what I find, when I’m stuck in that airport, one day?

    You should only need a plug adapter, not a converter, in order to charge your Kindle. I have several of the adapters and I use them for my laptop, camera batteries, and Kindle.
    I haven’t followed your blog before this, so I’m not sure what you like to read. I saw someone recommended The Night Circus, and I’ve heard good things about it, too, and hope to read it soon. I don’t always read what’s most popular right now, so I can’t really recommend anything off the best-seller lists.

    If you’ve ever read the Anne of Green Gables series, but never any further, then get a copy of The Blue Castle. Or the Emily books. If you’ve read Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, but not Elizabeth Gaskell, then North & South is the book for you. If you’d like a good fairytale re-write, take a look at Rose Daughter or Spindle’s End, by Robin McKinley. Or Georgette Heyer. Everyone should read her books, as she followed Austen and Bronte, and every modern-day romance writer wants to BE her.

    Sorry, this is a bit lengthy. I hope you have a marvelous trip, no matter whether you buy an e-reader or not!

    • Never apologize for a lengthy post! I am a voracious and promiscuous reader and read across genres. I couldn’t really give you a good sense of my reading habits; however, I have been meaning to read Gaskell. My husband recently ordered North and South, I really should take a look at it. I’m more of a Bronte, then an Austen fan and so many well-respected readerly friends always speak so highly of Gaskell. Thanks for the recommendation and thank you for reading!

  51. Alas, I haven’t been able to tear up a book for quite some time as I have been converted to the Kindle. Nevertheless, I do delete books that aren’t quite up to par or are sensationalized and overly hyped. (Deleting it off your Kindle isn’t as invigorating as tearing it up in your hands, mind you).

    If you’re looking for something moving, disturbing, yet fantastic, try McCormac McCarthy’s “The Road.”

    • Yes, deleting doesn’t bring the same visceral pleasure! Thank you for the recommendation. I have yet to read “The Road”, but I will certainly check it out someday. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

  52. rspill says:

    Try one of the books by Bill Bryson, especially “I’m a Stranger Here Myself.”

    Bryson has wonderful insights and a manner of expressing them with dry humor that makes all his books easy, and enjoyable reads. I believe all are non-fiction, and I have made his “A Short History of Nearly Everything” into a history of science class where I teach. It is not a great book for “along the way” reading, but the CD versions (consumer abridged and library unabridged) make it a real pleasure (for a science geek, like myself). This book chronicles the evolution of science starting at the Big Bang. But he does so from the perspective of the inventors and pioneers, often with humorous anecdotes. The paperback version, without the figures, is a good choice for a tangible copy.

    Finally, have you read “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch?
    It is full of great insights and is a great “along the way” memoir that brings life’s lessons to the fore.

    • I LOVE Bryson. We listened to Walk In The Woods on a long car trip down the California Coast. A simply brilliant and honest writer. Thank you for the suggestion of The Last Lecture. I will have to check it out. Sounds like a great read. Thanks for following along.

  53. innocent1 says:

    I myself wondered whether I’d ever become a Kindle devotee. I’ve always enjoyed reading, the feeling of holding the book in my hands and losing myself in another world. It’s often times an intimate experience, reading under the covers on a winter’s morning, or sitting in the garden under dappled sunlight. I thought having a Kindle would somehow detract from that. But now that I’ve pruchased one I have discovered it’s the words themselves rather than the medium that bring the magic to life.

    • Very eloquent and so true. It’s hard to change our ways. I think it’s my reluctance to leave the 20th C., even though we are more than a decade into the 21st C., that makes the transfer so hard. Well said! Thanks for reading and following along.

  54. maudlin says:

    I once conspired to burn a book. I never went through with it (I ended up selling it, which was probably smarter) but it was a satisfying idea nonetheless.
    When I went backpacking through Australia there were a lot of hostels with ‘book exchange’ shelves where people would leave their own book and take a different one. I always loved this concept and I think it’s more exciting than bringing a Kindle. I’m not sure how feasible this is for your trip, though; I don’t know if it’s the same in Britain!

  55. Fidophiles says:

    May I suggest a couple of British reads: 1. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and 2. The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. Beautiful books in my opinion.

    Also, don’t know if you’re aware of the British Institution that is Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ (a celebrity chooses eight songs, a book and a luxury for exile on a desert island). Wainwright made a broadcast which you might like to listen to here
    Its from the 80s so is a bit dated and I don’t really like the presenter from that time, but might be worth a listen to get more of an idea about the man whose walk you are doing. (I should confess I haven’t listened to this broadcast yet, but I am a huge fan of the programme’s more modern broadcasts.)

    Don’t feel bad about ripping up a rubbish book. I also have a reverence for books, but I read such a terrible book recently I couldn’t even bring myself to donate it and subject anyone else to it, so I recycled the paper so it could come back as A BETTER BOOK!
    Equally destructive, my dog ate the cover of a book we bought about puppy-training. See here (She is a Patterdale Terrier cross (Patterdale being one of the beautiful villages along the C2C) xx

    • Ooooooh this is perfect! Thank you for sending this link. I look forward to listening to it. I am also intrigued by the concept of choosing 8 songs and a book for exile on a desert island. That could make a great writing heuristic!

      Your thoughts on Book Karma are also pretty funny. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could send off all of our disappointing reads to some land of mis-fit books and hope that they come back a better book? I think we’ll pass through Patterdale at some point. I look forward to seeing it. Thank you for taking the time to comment and for following along.

  56. macksemil says:

    Great post, the image of you tearing the book up in frusteration is hilarious. I haven’t chanced to read something THAT bad yet. After reading this review I’ll take your advice and steer clear of this title.

    For backpacking/traveling I usually just take along a tome of a book to chip away at, easier than trying to switch small books out every four or five days, or carry ten of them around. Of course, if you are traveling in an English speaking country or at least one with used English language books at reasonable prices this might be more feasable. Personally I wouldn’t travel with a kindle, just one more techno-gadget to break or get stolen.

    I’ve got some book reviews up from books I’ve read recently if you want some ideas for reading!

    • Yes, my husband was amused, to say the least, while it occurred. Do not base your opinion of The Happiness Project on my post, alone. Definitely check it out for yourself and see what you think. I will wander over to your page and check out your lists. Thanks!

  57. I prefer to pack one medium-sized book and swap with other travellers throughout my travels. Great way to meet people and does other backpackers a service 🙂
    Congrats on FP!

  58. I think the biggest selling point for physical books and the biggest turn off to digital reading is simply the physical aspect. I like the feel of hold a book. I like carrying it around with my cup of coffee to the window. I like the dry feel of the pages…. and on a more consumable note… I can flip around MUCH easier.

    • Yes, we really are creatures of a tactile nature. I really appreciate turning pages when its something leisurely like reading a good novel, but I detest flipping the pages of the dictionary and am ever so thankful for online dictionaries.

  59. Bizzy Lizzy says:

    Well at least you cant rip a Kindle in 1/2.

  60. I recommend “Martin Eden” by Jack London: . Or because you are going through the English countryside, why not something by Charles Dickens?

  61. booksfan13 says:

    buy a kindle. its awesome. i download all m books from torrent and can thus have many as i want free

  62. Sirrom says:

    So far the most dangerous thing to my Kindle is….my puppy (a 5mon. mini-daschund named Dobby – yes, I named him after the house elf in Harry Potter). My Kindle is so far intact, but the cord that connects it to my computer met a very quick end.

    So Beware of Vicious Puppies 🙂

  63. asoulwalker says:

    Always ripped apart paperbacks on long mountaineering trips (so that multiple people could read the same book at the same time (one with a head start). One thing I learned though… I learned to stop taking books I thought I should read to the wilderness. Basically, if I thought I shouldn’t rip it apart physically I realized that there was a very small chance that I would be glad I brought the book on the trip.

    • That’s really interesting. I like the sense of community that you create with that process. But you’re right, we never know what future comfort some of these books will bring. Thanks for reading!

  64. lauras50by50 says:

    My husband bought me a Kindle a few years ago and it sat in the box for months. Once I used it, I was hooked. Downloaded a novel while being driven on the autobahn at some amazing speed…the download was seamless! Another plus is that many classics are out of copyright and available free on Kindle (or any e-reader, I suppose). Enjoy your hiking trip!

  65. NderstoodU says:

    I think for regional taste you should try “All Creatures Great and Small” by James Herriot. It is the beginning of four semi-autobiographical books about being a vet in the Yorkshire Dales. His prose is sharp and witty, presented in quick 3-7 page scenes that touch on almost everything we country dwellers live with.

  66. I will try to read your book. It is nice to have a good reading. Will you read some of mine, which are meant to have a better mental health?
    Mário de Noronha

  67. gaycarboys says:

    sadly i dont even read my magazines any more let alone books. Isn’t that a shame.

  68. lhepler says:

    I second the Bryson suggestion! Also, there is a short Henry David Thoreau book called, “Walking,” that might be kind of fun. I just finished the “Hunger Games” trilogy and it was great travel reading!

  69. Chani says:

    While I’ve never ripped a book in half out of anger (I tried with Great Expectations, but I was a junior in high school and let’s face it, that’s a pretty thick book), there are plenty I either haven’t finished or have had to force myself, over a very long period of time, to make it through. These books, which I’ve read recently, very much do NOT fall into that category, and span a wide variety of topics:

    A Primate’s Memoir by Nicholas Sapolsky – for people who love science and humor and good writing.
    Jane Eyre – I know I’m the only adult woman who hadn’t read this before, but my mind was blown.
    Here Comes Trouble by Michael Moore – no matter your politics, this book is hilarious. And sad.
    The Jungle by Upton Sinclair – make sure they sell tissues in the area you’re backpacking through.
    Children of Men by P.D. James – better than the (pretty solid in its own right) movie.
    The Aspern Papers by Henry James – quick, engaging read. Turn of the Screw also worth checking out.
    The Equation That Couldn’t Be Solved by Mario Livio – about the quintic (if you like math).
    Anything by Oscar Wilde – seriously, I should have started with this. If you don’t appreciate Oscar Wilde, I wouldn’t have asked you to read the rest of my suggestions.

  70. I have seen quite a bit of hype over this book and I am glad I got the cliffnotes and can skip it! I recently read “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan and loved it. I also just read my first book digitally, on my ipad, which was “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.” As a homeschooling mother of 4, I had been avoiding this book, but was so glad I finally read it. It was a really quick read and actually very funny. Maybe someday you will read a book of mine on your hike! Now to find time to write it…. 🙂

  71. dianeledet says:

    I got a real kick out of your blog, this post especially. I’m no book expert, but you are welcome to view my blog – Bookwinked. I write simple book reviews and you may enjoy some of the books on my Top Ten 2011 List ( There are some older books and new books there which I found worth the reading. Good luck in your quest. I’ll be watching your blog!

  72. Jox says:

    I’ve recently read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Its about her childhood told in raw chapters as she went through discrimination, abuse, and curiosity. This book took me through how Maya decided to live her life and act on the consequences of her decisions. Congrats on the FP, btw. 🙂

  73. I’m stunned by your grotesque act of ripping apart a book, despite it being intolerable. Though I cannot blame you as I feel I would most likely be driven to do the same given your review. Personally, I feel that your thoughts regarding that atrocious read were well presented and well written. I, too, have a major addiction to the written word and my home is being choked by books. Books on the walls, on every flat surface, tucked in every corner. That is why I just bought myself an early-ish (a day or two) birthday gift of a Kindle Touch and have already downloaded several books. Words fail to describe how much I adore my new reader and I feel you’ll greatly enjoy it’s versatility, as well. Though if you’re interested in magazines and newspapers, may I suggest the Kindle Fire. Excellent post, you murderous woman. 😉

    • We have a ridiculous number of books. I adore periodicals and read across genres. What’s the advantage of Kindle fire in regard to periodicals? Thank you for following along and taking the time to comment.

      • The Kindle Fire is superb in regards to periodicals with approx. 424 to choose from. The The full color allows you to be completely environmental as you read your favorite magazines and newspapers without the concern of using precious resources. It also has TV capabilities including watching full length movies on Netflix and Hulu. Additionally, you’re able to listen to Pandora while browsing the web using your Kindle Fire. All total, I believe there is around 19 million songs, magazines, books, and TV shows to choose from, so bored you will never be. The Touch offers an extensive selection of newspapers and books (obviously), but it’s limited in every other aspect. For my lifestyle, the Touch better fits my needs and that is why I decided to on this version.

  74. mattymillard says:

    Haha I can’t ever imagine ripping up a book even though I have read some bad ones (or not finished some to be precise!) I hope that you don’t buy a kindle, it would be rather expensive to break in half! Anyway, if you feel like reading something new, I’m posting my book on my blog at the moment. Let me know if its so bad you want to break it!!

  75. says:

    I totally feel you here. I, too, suffer with bad reads on a regular basis, books that others rave about but I just don’t find descriptive enough and with too much outright dialogue, not enough imagery. Few contemporary authors match the classics, and so I usually stick with those. If you’ve never read Anna Karenina (I know some would roll their eyes) by Tolstoy, or Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky then try those two! I couldn’t put them down. Moby Dick by Melville,as well. As for contemporary, Amy Tan and Khaled Hosseini have never let me down. Their prose is like poetry, so lyrical. And I also recommend The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, along with The Importance of Being Earnest. Also, I’ve heard from my brother that The Autobiography of Mark Twain (in three volumes) is great. Phantom Toll Booth (adults like it, too) just came out with its 50th anniversary edition, too (Juster/Feiffer). For something lighter, I loved Leaving Home by Art Buchwald, though it would probably keep you occupied for only a night or two. Lastly, when I feel this way, I find that a good anthology of short stories (particularly American) gets me through until I find the next great author. 🙂

    • Yes, the anthologies are so very important. I love the Diyanni and I love the way that an anthology can promote a certain degree of readerly promiscuity and encourage us to read more voraciously. Thank you for all of your fantastic suggestions and thanks for following along!

  76. thegolar says:

    I’m quite impressed at your physical prowess. It’s no mean feat tearing one in half. You must have had *divine* anger to do something like that. Either way, I don’t want to get on the wrong side of you

    • Oh you have far more faith in my strength. It was a paperback, not a hard cover. I am actually rather weak and physically inept (if you read my earliar posts, you’ll see). Thanks for the vote of confidence and for following along!

  77. Tarence Ray says:

    Inept at foreign country backpacking suggestions; but as far as American backpacking goes, I highly recommend Denis Johnson’s “Angels.”

  78. I have found a good deal of inspiration in older books like Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter Thompson and Trout Fishing In America by Richard Brautigan. As far as current, still living authors, anything by David Sedaris is riotously funny.

  79. redeyefamily says:

    Great post! I recently came across a wonderful blog written by a librarian. This travel book blog recommends books based on travel destination. For example, if you are visiting Laos, she recommends the book The Coroner’s Lunch which is set in Vientiane, Laos. She has an extensive list and is constantly updating her recommendations.

    She also weighs in on the e-book debate. You can find it at

  80. Gilinha says:

    Hi! I’ve been having the same problem in finding good books to read, so I started on a diet of Classical literature and joined a group of book exchange. I was starting to get real mad of buying books that were not worth the money!

  81. Raaj Trambadia says:

    These book choices are amazing !! Gr8 ideas to read awesome stuff !! Cheers 😀

    And please check out my latest post on love –

  82. Mary Brown says:

    Kindle or Nook, whichever you choose… enjoy! I never thought I would switch to electronic books, but the convience is amazing… one little device holds dozens and dozens of books. Add the fact that you can borrow e-books from the nypl online makes them a great choice. I still love real books, the smell of them, the way you can hold them…. (my precious LOL). I still visit the local library for recommendations from the women who work there and have great suggestions. Enjoy 🙂

    • Thanks, Mary! Yes, now that I am realizing the way that the public libraries have really embraced the e-readers, it seems impossible not to get on board! Do you know if there’s a limit on how many people can borrow an e-book at a time? Thanks for reading and following along!

  83. karmicspins says:

    I’m not part of a book club, which might be why I share your problem. I’ve been having a hard time finding a good read, especially since I’ve learned the hard way that being a New York Times bestseller is in no way a guarantee of awesomeness (!) so I decided to rely on good ol’ word-of-mouth and ask friends for recommendations. 🙂
    By the way, the last two books I read were really good, you might want to check out Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad and Nicole Krauss’ A History of Love. 🙂

  84. AsheX says:

    You should read “Vagabonding”. I personally have not read it (I can’t find any torrent for an illegal download :D) but it seems like a very good book for travelling

  85. jvlivs says:

    Wow. I just haven’t got the heart to tear up a book, unless it was a total waste of money halfway through the first chapter. Even then, I’d sell it on eBay and cut my losses. But after reading this, I might actually take a leap of faith and rip apart some books of mine just to de-clutter the house if not for any other reason.

    I am gradually leaning towards using my Kindle more frequently. I use it for Sunday Service on occasion, and I also have Kindle on my smartphone, and use that form time to time as well.

  86. It’s hard for you to find a good unpredictable book because you are a writer and a pro. It’s difficult to enjoy something you know everything about. (sad face, lol) The Kindle App is great. You can get almost any book that has exceeded copyright laws for FREE. I think I’ve downloaded every Mark Twain book and every claasic already!

  87. thisiskira says:

    The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga) , The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield), Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami), and Looking For Alaska (John Green) are books that I do not mind rereading. Interesting, original plots (besides LFA – but John Green writes beautifully, or at least expresses my teenage angst without using curse words in every single page), as well as beautiful writing. I hope you like them! Lovely blog 🙂

  88. whyyyjen says:

    I consider a book good if I can start reading it without stopping and wanting to read another book. It’s like being faithful to the one you’re reading. I can only be faithful when the story provides me everything I need, just in the right mix that I want.

  89. My daughter took her Kindle to Africa; Kenya & Tanzania for college studies abroad. As an avid reader it quenched her thirst for a good read. She went “fully loaded”! It was worthwhile. 🙂

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  91. I am not sure if you like thrillers, but if you do I suggest Watchers by Dean Koontz. Also his books are extremely insightful about the human condition. 🙂

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  93. worldnewsflash says:

    we are on the same shoes. i also had no idea of great books that are worthy to be read. i’m happy to read the suggestions of people in your site. 🙂

  94. i’m slowly but surely making my way through the 1001 books to read before you die list. of course, it’s been revised and there are more like 1,400 now – but who doesn’t like a challenge?!?!!?
    i read ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ on a month long european adventure a couple years ago. i read it on my e-reader so i didn’t have to lug the thing around!
    you can find the list here:
    happy walking and reading!

  95. If you have already left on your trip, then I hope you had a wonderful time while backpacking. Since you are in this dilemma, I’m going to presume that you are an avid reader, and therefore I am going to make the following recommendation. Don’t get a Kindle, and don’t take more then 3 books, especially for a 3 week trip. Unless you have some other means of doing so, make sure one of the books is a journal/notebook so that you can keep a fresh record of your trip.
    As an avid reader I find that I can get very caught up in a story even when I am traveling. This usually leads me to either missing out on something or being very tired from cramming both books and my to see list, and socialising with both the people I’m traveling with and the random people you meet from or also visiting the country your visiting.
    If you have not already left I hope you have an excellent time and enjoy the little moments of your trip.

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