There is a cartoon (among the many) on my refrigerator with the caption “Packing Essentials: A Checklist.” It shows a woman looking at a suitcase with sections labeled “Clothes you won’t wear,” “Work you won’t do” and “Books you won’t read.” I’m in the midst of packing for a winter vacation, and I can really identify. Well, not with the work part; I’m leaving that all behind. Clothes, yes. I just want to take the whole closet, topped off by the dresser drawers, so that I don’t have to make decisions. I always take more than I wear. It was a bit better on my last trip to England, and I’m hoping to be a bit more discerning in planning for this trip. As I get older, the heavy suitcase, even on wheels, becomes more of a burden, so there is some incentive to pack light.
Books are another story. I am going to an island where there is not a bookstore, so I really have to be careful not to run out of my addictive substance. Of course, I will have my iPad, and there is an endless selection there. I am a paper book lover, though, and for a relaxing vacation in the sun, I want to read in my preferred format. I took too few books to England, and wound up shopping at the bookshop at Heathrow for the return. And the book I started in electronic format I finished with the paper copy. This situation creates a conflict with my desire for a lighter suitcase, but for books, I will find the strength.
As with the clothing, I want to just dump the whole bookshelf. (Actually, I would need a moving van to take all my unread books.) But I had to choose, and I thought I would share my choices (in no particular order) and my reasoning.
Mortal Bonds by Michael Sears: Airplane book. I read Black Fridays, the first in the series, last year, and the plot moved quickly and kept my attention. I hate to fly, so need something like this.
Faithful Place by Tana French: This is the third in the series, and I was enthralled when reading In the Woods and The Likeness. I may save it for the return airplane trip, but I’m not sure I will be able to hold off that long.
Little Criminals by Gene Kerrigan: I was completely absorbed both in the plot and the characters when I read Kerrigan’s The Midnight Choir. The moral dilemma of a police detective who has bent the rules a bit to ensure that the guilty are punished is handled with such a deep, multi-layered scrutiny that the reader is left wondering where the line lies between right and wrong. The Rage won the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year in 2012. His novels are not a series. I save them for times when I know I will have long spans to read without interruption. Unfortunately, there are only four, so I will hold the others until I feel I deserve a special treat.
The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett: A literary mystery with an antiquarian bookseller as the detective. This book has been recommended by several friends whose opinions I respect, so I want to give it a try. I can’t help but be interested in a bookseller’s adventures.
Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger: I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read any of the Cork O’Connor books. I loved Ordinary Grace, so I am finally going to start with the first. I always read series in order, and I have some catching up to do here.
Little Face by Sophie Hannah: Another first in a series by an author I’ve been meaning to read. Sophie Hannah came to the surface of my long mental list of authors I want to read last year when she picked up Agatha Christie’s banner with a new Hercule Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders. Little Face looks like psychological suspense, another of my favorite subgenres.
The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson: Another new author for me. I’ve wanted to read McPherson’s books since I saw her on a panel at Bouchercon in 2013 and found her delightful. I can’t keep up with too many series at once, and this is a stand-alone, so I chose to start here.
It looks like I’m in for some binge reading. I haven’t had a chance to read much recently. December was (thankfully) very busy at my shop and I came home exhausted, and January has been a month of catching up on what didn’t get done in December, plus filing all those nasty tax forms employers are burdened with. The beast needs to be fed, and I think I’ve planned a balanced diet. Now if I can just get them all in the suitcase!