Short books please

Age 19 and about to go away on my own for the first time, I seriously considered taking the complete works of Shakespeare with me.

I was about the start an English degree and thought that reading all of Shakespeare pre-course would be a good use of my gap year. I wanted to look as clever as I felt. Like a real grown up clever person. I was also, it seems, a pretentious twat.

Thankfully I changed my mind and didn’t spend 3 months in South Carolina reading The Tempest.

These days I choose short, punchy books. I will always pack 4, 200-page books over over a 1, 800-page doorstop (sorry Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries, will have to wait). More books mean greater choice and are really practical too.

Choice
There’s nothing worse than being stuck reading a crap book. It sounds obvious but having more than 1 book in your bag means you can move on to something new if you get bored. I  can never be sure what I’ll fancy reading so I take a range of books to cover most whims. These usually include:

  • a safe bet novel by an author I enjoy
  • a book I’ve wanted to read for ages but haven’t got round to yet
  • a collection of short stories
  • something non-fiction.

Practicality
Small books are light and easy to slip into a day bag or pocket without too much hassle.

If you are self-conscious about eating alone, for example, you can pull your book out and forget about looking like a loner.

Short stories are perfect for those days when you’ve got a hour to kill at a bus station with nothing but a vending machine for company.

I find it easier to swap slim books, especially in some hostels where you need to donate 2 books in order to take 1.

If baggage weight is an issue, you can jettison short books sooner, lightening the load.

No one needs to lug David Copperfield across Vietnam. No matter now clever you think it makes you look.

How do you choose your books? Comment below.

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