Final Days of Summer


-read a book in a hammock

-get a sunburn

-play with water guns/ garden hose

-have a frozen drink outside

-pick flowers


What do you still need to do before summer ends?


What We Read on Vacation

The 9 books read by 6 people during an 11 day vacation.

Kristy packed New Lanark in Search of Utopia, a book about important historical figures from her hometown. She was busy on this trip and didn’t have much chance to read.

Kurt listened to music in his downtime, and didn’t pack a book.

Anthony read Mingus: A Critical Biography, about the great jazz bassist Charles Mingus.

Thor normally out-reads us all, but I didn’t see him touch the copy of Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties that Mom gave him. Instead of reading, during his downtime he wrote.

Kendra started with The Kindness of Strangers, a Lonely Planet travel book and collection of short stories. The short stories were kind of hard for us to get into on this trip. What was not difficult to get into was the gripping The Woman in Cabin 10 which she knew must be good when I devoured half of it on a four hour plane ride. While she waited for me to finish the thriller, she read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and when she had finished all of these and realized she was bookless for a 6 hour car trip with the whole family and a 4 hour return flights, she picked up book one of A Game of Thrones which has kept her occupied during our many hours of transit back in Chicago. Kendra was definitely the most dedicated reader on this vacation!

Kelsey read over half of  The Woman in Cabin 10 on the plane. She tried to savor it and read less than a chapter a night, but Kendra new it must be good and rushed her so that she could read it. When Kelsey finished the book on day three of an eleven day trip, she went and bought A Man Called Ove, which she is also breezing through.


What’s in a Carry-On?

What do you pack in your carry-on when your travel day looks like this:

6:00 a.m.: Leave for airport
8:20 a.m.: Board flight
11:30 a.m.: Land
1:00 p.m.: Board bus
4:15 p.m.: Exit bus
5:00 p.m.: Hike to campsite


I’ll tell you what!


Entertainment: iPod, Book, Earplugs, Journal, Pen, Cards, Headphones



Toiletries: Baby Powder, Castile Soap, Deodorant, Hair Tie, Lotion, Toothbrush,  Tweezers,  Razor, Microfiber Wash Cloth, Comb, Tooth Tabs,


The essentials: Grocery Bag, Sunglasses, Vapur Water Bottle, Wallet, Currency, Passport


Snacks of your choice!!!!


Bonus if your bag folds into itself for easy storage during the rest of your trip!

Not pictured: 2 jackets, phone charger, external battery, directions and tickets

Related: What’s in a backpack?
Inside the Bag: At the Gym!
What’s in a Bag: San Fran Plan


3 Things

1. Have you read any of the picks from Bill Gates Summer Reading List? While you’re at it, check out Obama’s list and these picks fromAmy Schumer.

2. The pancake-like layers on this Strawberry Graham Icebox Cake remind me of a Danish layer cake I had near my birthday while in Denmark. Mmm!


3. I have never laughed harder than I did while watching this 30 second George Costanza Remix. On that note, have you watched Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? I really enjoy the casualness of two major stars just going for a drive and a cup of joe. I will be catching up on these this summer.

Summer Re-Reads

Do you re-read books? I don’t usually, but in the summer I get nostalgic and crave stories that I engulfed on past travels.

Regular Re-Reads

The Secret Garden  is a story that I read almost every summer. I was probably 10 years old the first time I read it, and I think I forgot how the story went and read it again a few years later as a refresher. Now, every summer while things bloom and leaves turn green and the world generally demonstrates good health, I yearn for this story of friendship and growing health, and the straightforward clarity that comes with this tone of youth.

Do you like to read sexy sciencey stories? Do you sometimes imagine what your life would be like if you designed medicines but also studied homeopathic remedies through the lenses of a cultural anthropologist? I do. If I weren’t a musician/teacher, I would hands down be a scientist/anthropologist. State of Wonder is science/ anthropology/ steamy/ jungle.

Euphoria was my attempt to read State of Wonder again. Not as good, but still sexy anthropologist. Some trippy/freaky love triangles going on here. A quick and dirty read.

A Moveable Feast is my travel book. I carry a hard copy (I know, I’m archaic) with me when I go somewhere new for an extended period of time. It’s my café book that says “I’m very comfortable traveling solo,” “I’m interesting but I don’t want to talk,” and “I’m American!” all at the same time. It is a great summary of the artistic process, detailing mental/physical cycles that affect artistic process and the complexities of living as a glamorous famous novelist on a poor “artist abroad” income. If you have ever wondered what living in Paris in the early 20th century, rubbing shoulders with artistic greats would have been like, this is a must read.

I started to read The Hobbit when I was pretty young (8, maybe?) and I just wasn’t ready. (I watched the crazy old cartoon movie version, though!) I was trying to read my dad’s beloved personal copy, passed down to him by family… and I lost it. I lost it for basically 12 years, and last summer I FINALLY FOUND IT. It was a big event- I was excited and proud that I had kept the book in tact buried in my room for so many years, my dad was appalled that I had been hoarding it for so long… also kind of over it because we had since purchased a new copy. Anyway, when I finally actually read it for real, I read it in Jamaica… which seems like a weird place to be reading Tolkein, but it was a blast! This was my first trip abroad, and my first true cultural learning experience. All of this was a bit of a shock to the system, in a good way, and felt like a fantasy. Reading a fantasy when I was living in such a dream like state was easy! I was feeling like a happy adventurer, and there is really no better way to describe Bilbo Baggins.

Other Ideas:

I have a friend who is re-reading all of the Harry Potter series…in Spanish! She learned Spanish growing up and is looking to sharpen her linguistic knowledge and skills. This is a very cool mission! I also know someone who once read Les Miserables in French.

When I was traveling abroad for a couple of months several years ago, I developed a deep appreciate for my Kindle. Having more downtime than I anticipated, and going through some personal trials, I immersed myself in new books every few days. I need to see if I can find my device download history from those two months in Europe, because I feel like I read 10-20 books during that time!

What’s New:

I and everyone else will be reading The Handmaid’s Tale this summer. My english teachers were always wonderful at supplying dystopian tales and feminist fables (The Lottery and The Awakening , anyone?) yet somehow this classic slipped by me. I am hooked on the Hulu series and will devour this book .

I read In a Dark, Dark Wood basically on one short flight, and recently loaned it to a friend enduring a brief internet installation crisis. She read it as quickly as I did, and ordered The Woman in Cabin 10 for us to share! The only reason I haven’t ordered it for myself is because the sneak peek in the back of the first book scared me so much while I read it alone at night that I couldn’t fall asleep for another hour! I guess I no longer have much excuse not to read this thriller!