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How Much Reading Material Should One Take On a Trip?

by Deb Werksman

Since this month's theme is travel, and since I travel a lot, I thought I'd share my process for choosing which reading material to take with me. It's really not as easy a formula as that for shoes (one pair for every day of the trip plus one extra--my motto is "there's always room for one more chair at the table and one more pair of shoes in the suitcase").

Business trips are a great opportunity to catch up on my reading, and unexpected delays have to be planned for. There are 4 pools from which I take my reading materials:
*manuscripts I'm editing: these are organized in my office according to the date they're due to the copyeditor, with lead time factored in for editorial notes and prepping. Any time I'll be away more than one night, I always travel with a minimum of 2 manuscripts to edit.

This is because: a) I might get only partially into the manuscript and require a revision before I can go further
b) I might get delayed in O'Hare airport for 24 hours or more
Since I edit manuscripts on hard copy, I shed pages as I go, thereby lightening my luggage! BTW, this is why I need the author's name and phone number in a header or footer on every page. Many of my authors will attest that they've gotten phone calls from me at odd hours and from very odd locations (if you're one of my authors and you haven't yet, don't worry--someday you will!)

*submissions on my Kindle: very handy, as I can pack more on here than is possible to read in one human lifetime, BUT, can't use during takeoff and landing, or in the bathtub.

*submissions in hard copy: mostly mass market paperbacks, which are small and compact, and I always have at least one of these with me

*OTHER books I'm dying to read: may be hard copy, or may be on my Kindle:

I only get to turn to this group if: a) something untoward has happened and I desperately need a break
b) I have read EVERYTHING I'm supposed to read and am ahead on my deadlines
c) I'm too sick to get out of bed
d) I can't face another day without reading this particular book
e) some other justification

As always, I'm looking for single title romance in all subgenres, with:
  • a heroine the reader can relate to
  • a hero she can fall in love with
  • a world gets created
  • a hook I can sell with in 2-3 sentences
  • author has a career arc
Now it's your turn! How many books do you take on a trip?


  1. I liked learning more about your reading/editorial process, Deb. And y'all, I can attest that Deb might call about a manuscript from almost anywhere or any when.

    When I travel I carry a canvas tote. Into it go boarding passes, tickets, sunglasses, my meds, my purse and at least one book. Packed in my luggage are three other books, and of course the WIP on the laptop.

  2. Books I take on vacation? Uh, that would be the ones I'm currently writing or editing. I rarely have time to read anything else!

  3. I like to be optimistic about how much reading time I'll have on a trip--maybe overly optimistic. For a long weekend, I usually bring 2-3books and several issues of the RWR or RT because I never have time to read them unless I'm getting my hair done.

  4. When we go to the beach I'll take a stack. The family knows I rarely move once I hit the sand. The nose is buried in a book (prevents melanoma us my argument). Any other vacation? Maybe 1 or 2. Now that I have all sorts of reader apps on my iPhone, I can bring as many as I want!

  5. Deb, I think the first time I talked to you, you were in O'Hare and had just read my first (of many!) revision of Cowboy Trouble!
    I used to take a minimum of three paperbacks on every trip - I'd usually get two of them read, and I had to have a spare in case one of them sucked. (Of course, now I carry books by Casablanca authors so there's absolutely no danger of that:)
    Now I have an e-reader, so I can carry a huge number of books with me, but I always carry at least one paperback in case the e-reader breaks down or falls in the pool. And for takeoffs and landings, of course!
    Thanks for the insight into your reading habits, and thanks for working so hard on our manuscripts!

  6. What?! You travel a lot? You don't sit around in your plushy office and read all day?! I am stunned! ;-)

    I got a Kindle for Christmas and haven't had much chance to use it. I have to say the big draw for me was the convenience when we go on our long trips. I hate lugging several books along. Although these days I am like Terry and usually working on my computer rather than reading something. Tragic...

  7. So fun to read a post by Deb!

    Husband and I are strangely proud of our ability to travel light (one small carry-on each, even if we're gone for a month). Even so, I'll confess that I tend to pack A LOT of books when I travel. Sometimes I over-pack, but I've been pretty grateful for it in many non-English-speaking countries where desirable reading material is harder to come by.

    Love the blog post!

  8. Great post, thank you for sharing your reading while away process :) Like some of the other commenters here, I too am overly optimistic about how much reading I'll get in! I always bring one of the books I'm reviewing, a couple of books for pleasure reading, a research book, my current WIP, and the latest copy of the RWR mag. I will say, there was one trip we took to St. Lucia, and I brought my normal amount of reading materials (I think about 4 books) and I ended up raiding the guest shop for more books, which ended up being a blessing as I read my first JD Robb book and loved it! On the other hand, there have been trips where I haven't cracked a spine... RWA Nationals was one of them. I was drooling over all my new reading material, but was so busy, I don't think I had a moment to breathe :) And what an amazing trip/experience that was!


  9. Too many books which is why I'm looking at a reader to lighten the load. And if I go to a conference I'm always picking up more there.

    My carry on has my netbook, reading material, make up, meds, and anything important out of my purse since I put that in my check in luggage. Means one less thing to mess with.

    Yes, Deb will call from anywhere! Even the minute she's gotten off the plane. :}

    Yes, a reader. Need a reader.

  10. Mine. I take my laptop and write. But I have to say that Michele gave me one of her books when I went to Toronto to give a workshop and it made my plane flight home so much more entertaining! And I listened to audio books on the last trip I took because it was a 14 hour round trip and a perfect way to "read" while driving! :)

  11. I usually take one in carry-on for the plane (in case I can't read my ipod for some reason) and 2 or 3 paperbacks in my suitcase if we're on vacation. We're usually on the go or sightseeing, so there isn't much time to read. If the weather is lousy and I run out of print books, I always have dozens on my ereader and bring my charger with me.

    We just booked a trip to Figi for next Feb. I still can't believe we did that!


  12. I don't travel a lot, but when I do, I tend to take too much of everything. My in-laws must think I'm moving in each time we visit.

    But my trips are fairly short so I usually just take two or three books. I'll read a bit if I get the chance. How much I read depends on how much time I spend working my whatever I'm writing at the moment.

  13. I have such a hard time figuring out what I'll be in the mood to read, I usually take at least 6 books with me wherever I go. One or two craft books, a non-fiction and the rest romances. I'm very jealous of your Kindle, it sure would lighten my carry-on

  14. It's fascinating to get a glimpse into your reading process, Deb. Thanks a million for such an informative post!


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