Terra Ziporyn


Author of The Bliss of SolitudeTime’s Fool, Do Not Go Gentle, and the new novel Permanent Makeup as well as many nonfiction works including The New Harvard Guide to Women’s HealthAlternative Medicine for Dummies, and Nameless Diseases.


Once upon a time, I’d fill a backpack with thick tomes I had been waiting for months to devour. Paperback or hardcover, it didn’t matter. I was the kind of person who read War and Peace on the beach (and, actually, my organic chemistry text on a cliff near the Oracle at Delphi – but that’s another story). Now that I’m older and wiser, I’m not sure that’s the best way to take reading on the road.

With summer vacation on the horizon, I’m at a loss. I am currently facing a sea of unread books and magazines, and the prospect of packing up some subset of them for several road trips. I have to make some difficult choices. And I’m thinking it’s time to re-think old strategies, given the sad record I have of lugging books around the world and either destroying them or never touching half of what I lug.

I do own a Kindle, by the way. But to date I haven’t taken to using it to full advantage.

So I’m looking for advice. And stories. And thoughts about what kind of reading you think is best for travel.

I realize that the type of trip may affect the type of reading. A trip to the beach may make you less inclined to bring along an heirloom hardcover (though, somewhat to my regret, I’ve been known to do exactly that). A trip to rural Africa where you can’t be sure of a power supply may make a Kindle a bad bet. And when space is at a premium, throwing in every New Yorker you’ve accumulated since 1986 may be unwise.

But that’s okay. I’m still trying to find out what reading material people enjoy bringing to the beach, on a remote adventure, or on a retreat to a summer cottage. What makes sense and when? And what have you learned over the years about the best travel reading experiences?

That’s why I’d really appreciate shared insights and experiences. You can use the poll below for guidance – but feel free to share any best strategies you have for reading on the road that I haven’t considered!


What’s your favorite way to take reading on the road?

  • Pack one or two serious books that you may finally have time to read
  • Stock up on easy, breezy beach reading
  • Tackle those magazines piled up on your nightstand
  • Load the Kindle
  • Bring books related to the place being visited
  • Just bring whatever you’re currently reading
  • Other (Please specify)

Please share responses – and any other travel reading tips you might have – via the comments section below, the contact form on my website,  my Twitter account (@terraziporyn), or the Late Last Night Books Facebook page. I’ll share results next month.

  • J.H. Snider

    My favorite way to take reading on the road is to pack books directly related to the road trip. That may be a great history, great novel, or famous travelogue.

About Terra Ziporyn

Terra Ziporyn

TERRA ZIPORYN is an award-winning novelist, playwright, and science writer whose numerous popular health and medical publications include The New Harvard Guide to Women’s Health, Nameless Diseases, and Alternative Medicine for Dummies. Her novels include Do Not Go Gentle, The Bliss of Solitude, and Time’s Fool, which in 2008 was awarded first prize for historical fiction by the Maryland Writers Association. Terra has participated in both the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the Old Chatham Writers Conference and for many years was a member of Theatre Building Chicago’s Writers Workshop (New Tuners).  A former associate editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association  (JAMA), she has a PhD in the history of science and medicine from the University of Chicago and a BA in both history and biology from Yale University, where she also studied playwriting with Ted Tally. Her latest novel, Permanent Makeupis available in paperback and as a Kindle Select Book.