By Kerri Lowe
When you’re traveling and need to pack light—how do you decide which book to bring? With technology, you don’t have to!
I just got back from a three-week European vacation and since I’m an avid reader, I knew books would be a big part of that. I’m generally a physical copy kind of gal (though I do read books on my phone while I’m on the NYC subway…), but all the books I was in the middle of were too large to travel with. Also, I found myself unable to choose between the other, more portable books on my shelf. I didn’t have the space (or lower back strength) to bring 10 books that I may or may not want to read in my backpack, so I decided to stick to e-books.
Here are my five favorite types of e-books to read while traveling and why.
1. A Self-Help Book
A personal development book is an awesome choice to read while traveling because your mind is in a very open and growth-oriented place. You’re also ideally seeing cities or landscapes that are inspiring you to dream bigger and think about the big picture of your life. The right personal growth book will have you filling up journal pages and
What I Read: “Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins using the Oyster App.* My biggest takeaway from this book was the idea of “Transformational Vocabulary,” or basically, changing the words you use so you can feel better instead of worse. For example, if you’re always saying “I’m so tired,” it’s probably just making you feel more tired! I started changing my words so that when I want to say “I’m so tired” instead I say, “I’m a little bit droopy!” That phrase sounds funny to me and actually increases my energy rather than depleting it. I know it’s a little confusing and semantic, but Tony lays this process out SO well in the book and it actually works!
*(Oyster is a subscription based app that gets you access to hundreds of great books for $9.99/month, by the way! Check it out.)
2. A Heartfelt Novel You’ve Been Meaning To Read
In our daily lives it can be hard to let ourselves get lost in a novel—especially one that we’re pretty sure is going to shake up our world a bit and make us cry. For whatever reason I love reading books about people with loved ones going through illness, but sometimes death is a topic that is just too heavy for me to deal with in-between going to work, cooking dinner and working out. A vacation is a great time to let yourself get lost in a novel that is bound to make you a bit emotional—and it’s even better if it’s one you’ve been meaning to read for awhile and just haven’t gotten around to.
What I Read: “The Cure for Grief” by Nellie Hermann. “The Cure for Grief” is a heavy coming-of-age story about Ruby Bronstein, a girl dealing with a string of heartbreaking family tragedies while trying to grow up, find love and become her own person.
3. A Collection of Short Personal Essays
If you’re on a fast-paced trip and a novel and think you’ll only have a few minutes here or there to get your reading in, a collection of personal essays is a great kind of book to read. Spanning a few to 15 pages, personal essays can give you a glimpse into someone else life. Even better if the book is unapologetically honest, yet inspirational, like the book from StoryShelter below.
What I Read: “I Am Here: The Untold Stories of Everyday People” by StoryShelter on Kindle
(OK, I have a story in this book, so I’m biased!) It’s so hard to pick, but one of my favorite stories in the collection is “Far From The Crowd” by Bertram Allan Mullin. The story is him having to say goodbye to a girl he’s been best friends with and pining for for years before he goes through with a dangerous and extensive back surgery. Am I being morbid here?! There are also some great funny stories in the collection.
4. A “For Dummies” Book
Yes, they’re lame. You’d probably never want to be seen reading one in public. That’s why it’s best to read a “For Dummies” e-book—no one has to know that you’re reading it! So whether you’re digging into the best practices of using that new fancy Canon camera you got or scanning Poker for dummies so you can clean up in Vegas, try learning something new while you’re away!
What I Read: “Wedding Planning for Dummies” by Marcy Blum
I actually got engaged while on the trip, so I had to do a little research! The most useful part of the book is that it includes all sorts of checklists (questions to ask the venue, info to give bridal party, ideas of what to include in a welcome basket at the hotel, etc.)—basically, all the little details that you might overlook if you couldn’t check it off!
5. A Kick-Ass Manifesto
If there’s a blogger out there worth reading, they probably have a manifesto of some sort (basically, a free e-book that tells their story, lays out their philosophy, or gives you some kind of value in whatever subject they have expertise in). From world traveler and writer Chris Guillebeau’s “279 Days to Overnight Success” to Ashley Ambirge’s “You Don’t Need a Job, You Need Guts,” you can generally get these free PDFs by signing up for their email list. Find a blogger with a manifesto and dig in. You might find your next online mentor.
What I Read: “The New American Dream” by Penelope Trunk Penelope Trunk is a controversial blogger and businesswoman whose work I was only slightly familiar with before reading her manifesto. While I won’t be becoming a Penelope devotee (she recently was a bit too insensitive when talking about Sheryl Sandberg’s husband’s death…) she does make a good case for pursuing interesting work rather than restrictive corporate culture and financial rewards in “The New American Dream.” (Also found this on the Oyster App!)
Do you have a favorite kind of e-book to read while traveling? I’d love to hear it in the comments!
Kerri Lowe is a writer, poet and creative facilitator living in Brooklyn, NY. She always has a personal project going—from writing, acting in and producing a one-woman show of stories and songs to vowing to visit every ClassPass fitness studio in Manhattan and Brooklyn by her 26th birthday. Some would say she’s an overachiever, but she just likes to call herself “curious.” You can follow her daily poems on instagram @callmekaylo :)