Traditional vacation season is behind us for another year. Oh, there will be travel for Thanksgiving, and for winter break, and some of you lucky folks will go somewhere beachy for cold February or dreary March, but by and large vacations are over until spring. Time to work five-day weeks, wear closed-toe shoes, watch your freckles fade.
But we can still talk about vacation books, right?
I asked recently whether it was true (as reported in Smithsonian) that Minnesotans travel with books of nonfiction more than any other genre. You had, as always, a ton of fervent opinions. Mostly, the opinion was: yes!
Chris Larson of Eagan takes along Bill Bryson. “He makes history, geography, biology and botany interesting,” Larson wrote. “I read ‘In a Sunburned Country’ on a trip to New Zealand and Australia. I learned so much about Australia while I tried to keep from laughing out loud on the plane. I’ll go back, just to see the cities we missed that he describes so perfectly.”
Luann E. Rice of Baxter, Minn., likes political books, “such as ‘Giant of the Senate’ by Al Franken,” she wrote. “It usually gets me a smile or a frown from people.” But it always provokes discussion.
Judith Trolander of Duluth also prefers nonfiction, especially if it relates to her trip. “In late July, I visited the San Juan Islands,” she wrote. “Our tour director recommended a memoir by a woman whose father was the lighthouse keeper early in the 20th century. I found the book, ‘The Light on the Island,’ by Helene Glidden, and read it on the return flight to Minneapolis. It was a wonderful way to extend my vacation by reading.”
Mary Hanvik of Minneapolis brings Sarah Vowell, Bill Bryson or Mary Roach with her on trips. “They can take history or science and make them informative and funny.”
And Patty Schmidt of Northfield brings travel stories with her on her travels — specifically, the anthologies “Better Than Fiction: True Travel Tales From Great Fiction Writers” and “Better Than Fiction 2.”
“Readers may pick and choose favorite authors or locations,” she wrote. “They’re perfect bedtime reading as well, as not many offerings are more than 10 pages.”
A year or so ago, Brian Harper-Tibaldo of Minneapolis found himself in the Boise, Idaho, airport with nothing to read. He ended up buying “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” by Betty Smith, a book he had read — and hadn’t much liked — in high school. This time, though, it took.
“That book began a pattern. In all my travels since, I’ve taken along books from my high school’s assigned reading list: ‘The Great Gatsby,’ ‘As I Lay Dying,’ ‘Of Mice and Men’ and many others,” he wrote. “Exploring these titles anew, with 20-ish years of life experience, has been a fascinating journey. I still don’t read much fiction otherwise — just on planes. And jet by jet, the experience has been like going back in time and having a conversation with my teenage self.”
And now, one more request
The holidays are coming! Man, are they coming. Like a freight train, like a speeding bullet. Our holiday books roundup will run Nov. 26, and I would love to include recommendations from you. What’s a great book to give for the holidays? And why? Was it one you received and cherished, or one you have given many times, or a new title that strikes you?
Write me an email with a book recommendation, and why, at email@example.com. Please include your full name and hometown. And thank you.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune’s senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks