Vacation! What book to bring?

So, we’re not going yet, or tomorrow, but sometime my wife Amber and I are going to Italy for a bit.

Saying when on here would be silly, since I’ve probably at some point posted up pictures of  things vaguely valuable that I own and don’t want to get robbed.  Unlike the people who bikesnob mentions here, whose inane ‘minimalism’ only seems to render the “I”, with all its deep anthropocentric associates,  to a little “i” – as in, of course, Ipod, Iphone, Ipad, Ithinkthisreplacesreallife, etc – I have things I like and don’t want to get stolen.  That biksnob guy has some great ‘read it at work’ appeal by the way.

But yes, Italy. I’ve never been for a more than a few days, and that was on tour with a band I’m in, and it was only in Northern Italy.  This trip includes Rome, Florence, Civita di Bagnoregio, Cinque Terre, and Volterra.  Amber did all the heavy lifting in terms of reading up and planning the trip so we’re not say, in a town on a day when everything is closed, or stranded in some small town because the bus doesn’t run on Sunday, etc.  For that I am eternally grateful.

I’m been learning about what I’ll be seeing – reading about Rome, watching documentaries about Michelangelo, etc.  But I’ve been having one hell of a time figuring out what book to bring.  I just finished reading A Place of My Own, only to discover I have now read everything Michael Pollan has published.  With my safety net of a good and stylistically reliable author removed, I’m floundering for something new.  This is where being only a Children’s Librarian has it’s downside – on a daily basis the majority of literature I’m checking out is for kids.

So Italo Calvino the Italian author? I love it, but maybe too dense for a vacation book. His only one that was pretty laidback was Numbers in the Dark. Plus, I’m a sucker for short stories.  I got John Mcphee’s Silk Parachute, and realized I might have to pack a dictionary as well.  I read enough chapters of The Tipping Point to realize Malcom Gladwell annoys me.

And I don’t need to get all the way out to this place, settle down with an excellent drink and start reading a book that annoys me.

Books on deck to consider include Consider The Lobster by David Foster Wallace, a collection of Best American Short Stories, edited by Alan Lightman, Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel, and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (an old professor of mine reccomended that one for it’s insanely awesome bad guy). Okay and maybe Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, but the library didn’t have that. Although this guy makes that book seem pretty interesting.


9 responses to “Vacation! What book to bring?

  • Abhishek

    Unfortunately, the Bikesnob, as always provides a biased, albeit humorous take on minimalism. That is probably the reason that I don’t subscribe to his blog. The posts are way too long and adds no value to my life.

    Lately, I have been more and more attracted to non-fiction. I did go through the Steig Larsson trilogy recently. The books managed to further steer me towards non-fiction. They were great but reading them made the movies suck. I think the movies would be brilliant if they were not eclipsed by the books.

    My hunt for non-fiction, and minimalism brought me to an article by Pico Iyer: I am currently reading ‘The Open Road’. I am a third into this book and strongly recommend it. The Jacksonville Public Library does not carry many of his books.

    The blog Bikesnob mentions,, is owned by Leo Babauta. He is a father of six; no minimalism there. However, he provides access to information to anyone who wants to declutter their life, mind and matter. Posts on are restricted to 400 words which forces Leo to make the greatest impact in a short post. Seth Godin maintains brevity is his blog with the greatest impact too. That is a lesson the Bikesnob should consider.

  • Josh Jubinsky

    Abhishek! The internet is so big, and yet I get a comment from someone I know and probably should talk with more.

    What can I say? I think he’s funny. ‘Read at work appeal’ is exactly what it sounds like, I promise.

    Generally, I like on-fiction more so I’ll check out these books you are mentioning. I’ll also see if it’s something the library has on it’s list to order.

    I’m a fairly decluttered and simple person. That’s probably due in large part to me not wanting to own anything that goes unused for long periods of time (first world guilt?). That, and I’m not a fan of dusting (that’s just me trying to save time.). A minimalist outlook being applied to blogs and the like though is something new to me. Thanks for the links to blogs that take it more seriously, I will check them out.

  • Abhishek

    On the note of cluttering (and referencing your previous post), there are some tips on 5S that you might like to know. Your workspace looks very organized. 5S helps keep it organized by building a culture. I’ll be glad to share the philosophy since I have implemented it in a manufacturing environment in India, a warehouse in North Carolina and my office desk.

    Oh, and I hate dusting too but I should make myself do it at least once a quarter!

  • Jenny

    I know when you’re going on vacation and I’m going to spread the news! That’s what you get for making me buy your lunch.

    That being said though, you need volunteers to feed the cats, water the plants, etc., let me know. I might be available.

    I can’t help you much on the book front. I’ve been stuck in teen fiction for a while now and I’m quite comfortable. I don’t want to read grown-up books.

    • Josh Jubinsky

      HA! Making you buy lunch – whatever! We got it all covered with people to watch the cats, etc. Thanks for offering though! I mean, even though the trip isn’t until early 2012, we’re just planning well ahead.

      Sometimes grown up books are a nightmare. I liked Kristen Cashore’s books Graceling and Fire, which are for teens. Then I tried faily recently to get into a similar fantasy genre for adults (Amber loves them). It was like trying to get back into running after years of being bedridden.

  • Jenny

    Teen fantasy genre all the way! Right now I’m in Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart series. ’tis good.

  • Christopher Monsour

    Cosmicomics is great! (I also liked The Baron in the Trees.) In a totally different vein, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith is a great, dark psychological crime story, set largely in Italy. Very different texture than the movie.

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