I’d never really thought about it before, but as I was packing for my recent trip to France, it occurred to me that I have a phobia that’s very real, and mostly manifests during vacation: the fear of running out of reading material. Never mind the plane trip – whenever I feel nervous about that, I remind myself that plane accidents make the news because they are so rare, and that I do something statistically more dangerous every day when I get into my car and drive to work.
No, my fear is running out of books to read. The longer the plane ride, the worse it is. Traveling internationally, to a country whose primary language is not English is another concern – we might be able to find a bookstore, full of stuff I can’t read (or in the case of French, can’t read well enough to just enjoy the story).
Of course, you’d think it would be easily handled by simply taking lots of books. I used to do just that. I didn’t bother packing my clothes until a day before departure – if not that morning. No worries there. But my books, I started collecting several days before, if not a week. I’d pick books from a variety of genres, and a variety of subgenres of romance, because hey! – who knew what I’d be in the mood for when I finished the current book?
If the vacation was a long one (a week), the books would get their own bag, or at least would fill my carryon bag, along with the change of clothes I always packed in case my luggage got lost. So when ebooks became popular, it was a godsend.
Problem solved, right? Finish a book, just hit Amazon, Smashwords, or the local library’s website and download another.
Except that you can’t go online from an airplane. OK, yes, we actually can, but bucking those rules is not something I want to try.
So I still spend a good bit of time before vacation loading up my smartphone with ebooks. Again, I need a good selection of genres so I can read what I’m in the mood for – and so I have backup in case I get hold of a book I don’t like. Then it’s necessary to open each book to ensure that it’s downloaded to the device so that once I’m up in the air, I don’t need to worry that I’ll click on a book that looks really good, only to find that it hasn’t been stored on my device.
But ebooks aren’t a universal solution either. You can’t even turn on the smartphones and ereaders until the plane is a good ways up in the air. Depending on how long the wait to take off is, that could be the better part of an hour. Okay, yes, there’s the Skymall mag, but that’s only good for 20 minutes or so for me. I need books. So I still wind up packing a print book or two. Oh, and with my smartphone, battery is another concern. An 8- or 9-hour flight is more than my phone’s battery lasts, especially if I take some time off reading to play games. So I also have to be sure to pack an extra, extended-life battery, and double-check that it’s fully charged before I leave.
So how did all of this work out for my trip to France? Well, I read two ebooks and one print book the whole time (I am not a speed-reader, and I did spend some time playing games). My extended-life battery had just gotten low when we landed in Paris, so it served me well. And the books themselves?
I still have over a dozen on my phone, unread.
What about you? How many books do you pack, if going on a week-long vacation? Do you worry about running out of reading material?