I leave Tuesday morning for a lightning fast solo road-trip across the country: 2,900 miles, Silverton to Philadelphia, in five days, with a brief detour southward to visit The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas.
An important part of any reader’s travel plans is deciding which books he or she should take. My M.O. is to fill a separate backpack with books, magazines, and literary journals, salivating at the prospect of hours and hours of uninterrupted reading time. Inevitably, I get carried away and pack five or six times as many books as I can realistically hope to read.
This trip I am bringing just one book with me: the first volume of the collected poems of William Carlos Williams.* However, I’m daunted by the thirteen hour driving days ahead, so I am jam-packing my iPhone with audiobooks. These titles made the longlist, inasmuch as I have them checked out from the public library:
- Three by Stieg Larrson: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.”
- “Home,” by Marilynne Robinson
- “Black Elk Speaks,” as told to John G. Neihardt
- “A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn, The Last Great Battle of the American West,” by James Donovan
- “The Day the World Ended at Little Bighorn,” by Joseph M. Marshall III
- “The Journey of Crazy Horse,” by Joseph M. Marshall III
- “The Lakota Way,” by Joseph M. Marshall III
- “Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History,” by S.C. Gwynne
- “Shop Class as Soulcraft,” by Matthew Crawford
- “The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work,” by Alain de Botton
- “This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly,” by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff
- “How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities,” by John Cassidy
- “What Technology Wants,” by Kevin Kelly**
- “Homegrown Democrat,” by Garrison Keillor
- “Bossypants,” by Tina Fey
A casual glance at the list will reveal a few of my nonfiction reading interests. Except there is no baseball on this list. I really wish I had a baseball book to listen to.
Have you read any of these books? Let me know if you want to recommend one or wave me off another. They’re not all going to fit on my iPhone – not by a long shot. Do you have a strategy for picking books for travel? I would be interested in hearing about that too.
*If I get my copy of Wes Jackson’s new essay collection, “Nature as Measure,” I’ll bring that too. I am writing about it for the Englewood Review, and Jackson is the founder of the Land Institute. But I don’t expect to get it; the book, which was released on July 12, seems to me on backorder. I also plan on visiting Hearts & Minds Books in Allentown, Pennsylvania. So undoubtedly I’ll come home with more books than I left with.
**A late addition to the list, with a title that is irritating and provocative – kind of like Kelly’s recent interview in Christianity Today. The introduction to the CT interview included this quote from “What Technology Wants”: “[W]e can see more of God in a cell phone than in a tree frog.” This I have to read…