The 5 Best Ways to Read While Traveling

The only problem with traveling is that it really cuts into my reading time.

Don’t get me wrong, I can read A N Y W H E R E. But travel provides lots of distractions and entertainment, as well as tiring me out fast. But when I don’t get at least a little reading in, I can get really crabby. Sound familiar? Whether we are going on a weekend jaunt or a week or three of sightseeing, it’s important for us bookworms to make time for reading. It keeps us calm and energizes us for the next adventure.

On my recent trip overseas, I took note of when, where, and how I actually managed to read, and made up a list of the best ways to read while traveling. One of the biggest obstacles, of course, is time.

Make Time For What You Love

Whether you are a schedule-every-second traveler or a let’s-see-what-happens traveler, I recommend planning out when you are going to read, even if it’s just a few minutes. I try to get up at least 30 minutes before I “have to” so that I can squeeze in some reading before the day really starts. If you can’t or don’t want to schedule reading time, that’s fine too. Just take advantage of the places in my list below when you’re on the go.

Choose the Right Books

I definitely agonize over which book(s) to bring when I’m going on a trip, no matter how long I will be away from my shelves. I’ve learned that for me, it’s best to bring authors I’m familiar with and love, or something I love to reread, or a book that I know will be very suspenseful. On my recent long trip, I took my Kindle loaded with free or discount titles which meant I had a wide variety to choose from.

The Best Ways to Read While Traveling

  1. On the train: I’m biased in favor of trains because they are now my favorite form of transportation. Your Mileage May Vary with this one if you’re not using trains or they make you sick. For some reason I get sick on subways if I read, but not trains. The other thing is that trains may or may not have outlets and WiFi, so bringing a book or Kindle along will save you some boredom. Relax in your seat, take in the views outside the window, read your book, and you’ll be at your destination before you know it.
  2. Parks: Depending on the weather, parks can be a great way to combine exploration with your reading time. On my recent trip, I would use my maps app to find the nearest Big Green Area and use it for a nice walk and maybe some reading time if there’s a bench or some nice grass.
  3. On the airplane: I hate flying but planes are good for getting a lot of reading done. I try to pull out my book as soon as I’m boarded so I don’t sit and agonize over how long it’s taking for the plane to take off. I’m also an introvert so I don’t love chatting with fellow passengers (sorry, fellow passengers).
  4. Coffee/tea shops: It’s a good way to explore a new place by finding the nearest coffee shop, or if you’re in one place for a while to find your favorite. Hot beverages are pretty universal, and coffee shops are a great place to hang out with a book due to the deliciousness, atmosphere, and comfy chairs.
  5. Tourist site lines: If you’re doing a lot of sightseeing, you might have to deal with more than a few ticket lines, entry lines, whatever lines. Stash a small book or Kindle in your bag and pull it out if you find yourself tapping your foot with boredom.

Travel is fun but tiring; reading helps me take some time to relax and think about something besides what I’m going to do next. How do you make time to read while traveling? Which places did I miss?

Question for audiobook readers: I don’t use audiobooks very often. Most of the places on my list don’t have guaranteed electrical outlets. How do you deal with listening to your book while on the go? Portable phone battery? Other? Let me know in the comments!

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Bahnreads Overseas: Literary Sights

I recently traveled from the West Coast overseas to London, Dublin, and Italy. I already blogged about my favorite bookshops I found while traveling. I also visited and/or discovered a few literature-related spots, some of them by accident because I am not as good at planning as I like to pretend. Read on for my favorite literary sites that we visited.

The Jane Austen Centre (Bath, England)

Is it touristy? Yes. Is it gimmicky? Yes. Is it a ton of fun? ALSO YES.

What first struck me at the Jane Austen Centre was the sincere enthusiasm of everyone who worked there. The young woman calling herself Louisa Musgrove gave a practiced monologue on Jane Austen’s family, but she made it interesting enough and got some laughs, and she handed us off to Lady Catherine De Burg who told us about the different portraits of Jane Austen and the arguments over their authenticity. Everyone else we interacted with, whether it was the costumed gentlemen at the door or the cashier in the gift shop seemed knowledgeable and honestly glad to be there.

The Centre itself was full of both contemporary Austen artifacts and reproduced versions. Besides the information displays and museum exhibits, there were some interactive areas where you could try on costumes, practice writing with a quill, and play contemporary tabletop games.

Check out my photos below for some examples of the displays and costumes.

 

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The Book of Kells and Long Library Exhibit (Trinity College, Dublin)

On our first full day in Dublin, we took a tram (because Trams Are Best) to the Trinity College campus. First of all, gorgeous campus, what is this, ridiculous, so beautiful. Second of all, they have the Book of Kells at their library so we visited that. Unfortunately, they don’t let you take pictures of the old books in the exhibit. But trust me when I tell you, WOW ILLUMINATED BOOKS, THEY ARE GORGEOUS AND BEST. The level of detail and the bright colors and gold were incredible. The pages we saw were the genealogy of Jesus and a section from the Gospel of John. You can see some official photos here.

We were able to see the Long Room in the same library building. It’s the perfect library aesthetic with a longgggggg room (imagine that) with fabulous-looking arches, as well as a bust or fifty of famous writers. You can check out my photos below.

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Via Dante Alighieri (Florence, Italy)

dante

There are quite a few Dante-related sites in Florence, Italy, which you can read about here on Walkabout. Our time was very limited there, although we did, of course, see the Duomo. I spotted this street named after Dante and snapped a photo. It’s really fun going to cities where these famous writers lived and worked, and imagine them as they were.

 

Jonathan Swift’s tomb (St. Patrick’s Cathedral)

While in Dublin we visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I had no idea that Jonathan Swift’s tomb was there! I really need to brush up on my author history because Jonathan Swift was Dean there for 32 years. If you visit the Cathedral, which is beautiful in its own right, you can see artifacts such as Swift’s pulpit. Swift wrote his own epitaph, because of course he did. The epitaph marks Swift’s grave and is in Latin, but the translation is:

Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Divinity and Dean of this Cathedral,
Where savage indignation can no longer lacerate his heart;
Go traveller and imitate if you can, this dedicated and earnest champion of liberty
He died on the 19th October 1745, aged 78 years

Check out my photos below.

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Overall I had an amazing time exploring, especially when we found places and sites we didn’t always know were there.

Bahnreads Overseas: My Favorite Bookshops

It’s good to be blogging again! I returned a few days ago from a long trip overseas, with stops in London, Dublin, Rome, Venice, and Florence (with a tiny stop in Keflavik). While I didn’t do any sort of comprehensive tour of libraries or bookshops, I did my best to visit and explore them when I could. In this post I’m going to share my favorite bookshops I found while traveling. In a later post, I will share about other literature-related places I visited, including a certain fantastic library.

London

IMG_7828Okay, it’s not technically a bookstore, but the Globe Theater gift shop sells a lot of books by William Shakespeare. The theater is a reconstruction of the Globe Theater that Shakespeare worked in and wrote his plays for. We were able to do a tour as well as see a show. I highly recommend the experience! As far as books are concerned, the gift shop sells many different editions of the plays and sonnets, including big fancy folio-like reproductions.

I also managed to visit Forbidden Planet, which has been on my list for a while. If you like science fiction or fantasy, this is a magical place. The ground floor is entirely non-book nerd gear: toys, games, shirts, etc, from alllll the franchises. The Star Wars wall was really delicious. The basement floor is all books! They had many signed editions, along with a fantastic selection. Yay Forbidden Planet!

Dublin

Manor Books Limited in Malahide (just outside Dublin) was a fun little shop. They had a lot of Ireland-related books and books by Irish authors. What I love about independent bookstores is that I discover books I would never otherwise know the existence of. I bought a book here titled How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of The Crossroads (by Daniel Cassidy). I haven’t read it yet, but our tour guide at Malahide Castle mentioned quite a few common expressions that supposedly came from Ireland, so I’m very intrigued!

The Winding Stair Bookshop was one of my favorite finds on the trip. It’s pretty small, but very carefully curated to include both new books and used, with an emphasis on feminist books and Irish authors. I found a tiny little book titled A Little History of Dragons by Joyce Hargreaves, but there were a bunch of other books I wanted to carry off with me.  It’s also right next door to The Winding Stair restaurant.

I went into at least one branch of the Dubray Books chain. Besides being a decent all-around bookstore, they always had sizeable displays on Irish authors and Ireland-related topics, which, as a tourist, I really appreciated.

Rome

So the thing about Italy is that they speak and read Italian there, and I don’t. We went into a couple of little bookshops but the only place I bought books was actually the Colosseum gift shop, where I found a delightful little book called A Journey to Rome that had beautiful watercolor illustrations paired with quotes from famous literary people who visited Rome. Not to worry: I definitely plan to visit Rome again and next time I will plan my bookshop visits a little better.

Venice

Okay, first of all, Venice is surreally beautiful and probably not even a real place. Second, it contains a bookshop called Alta Acqua that is also probably not real. I have photographs of it and I’m still not sure. They keep many of their books in waterproof flotation devices, whether it be a gondola, a bathtub, or a canoe. I didn’t actually buy any books here, although they did both English and Italian. Enjoy the photos, and visit this place if you can.

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Florence

Right outside the Accademia Gallery (which is awesome, you should go there) is a bookshop called Libreria Gozzini. I definitely only saw like four rooms when I was there, so I was surprised to look it up online and be told there are multiple floors and 23 rooms! We really missed out. However, we did find a few shelves of English books and I found a couple of tiny old copies of Shakespeare plays, one of which I took home with me (Romeo and Juliet). Besides beautiful shelves of books, there were many old prints and drawings, which were fun to look through.

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Overall, I really enjoyed my trip. But being in a strange place can be disorienting, and it’s always very comforting to hang out with books in between eating delicious food and seeing the sights. What are your favorite bookshops you’ve found while traveling?