Next week, my kids and I will be flying east to Massachusetts, to spend a week with extended family on Cape Cod. It’s a trip we make every summer, to a rambling old house on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic, and yet each year as we get ready I can’t help but feel a certain low-level anxiety.
Partly, the cause of this is family; partly, the act of leaving home. But more than anything, my tension involves a question with which I’ve grappled since childhood: Which books should I bring?
I am, after all, a peripatetic reader, although I read for a living as well. I like choices, which means I always carry more books than I need. And yet, the necessities of travel (not to mention an aging back) dictate that these books can’t be too heavy, or take up too much space. What’s a reader to do?
One solution, of course, would be an e-reader. But while I go on the road with (and occasionally read on) an iPad, I like the reassurance of ink on paper. When I travel, then, it is in the company of a small library, print and digital.
So, what am I bringing to the Cape this summer? First are three books about walking, for a project I’ve got in the works: Bruce Chatwin’s “The Songlines,” which I’ve read but need to revisit; Michael Cunningham’s “Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown” (if the shoe fits); and Robert Walser's "The Walk."