Michael and I made a few mistakes while planning our honeymoon. We waited forever to go on one, for starters, and we agreed to share our trip with friends who don’t exactly… travel like we do. But there were a few things we did right. We paid extra for the private beach at our all-inclusive resort. (You know who else pays for the private beach? Elderly couples. And they are, by far, the best beach companions.) And Michael gifted me his hand-me-down Kindle so that I wouldn’t do that thing where I spend $50 on new books at Hudson News in the airport and then complain about how heavy my purse is.
I’ve been opting in to streaming entertainment since ABC started releasing online episodes of LOST the day after they aired, and I’ve been a member of Hulu since they launched their Beta platform. So it surprises me that I was resistant to try digital books for so long. But as circumstance would have it, our travel buddies ended up contracting Montezuma’s Revenge during our vacation, so instead of participating in our planned activities, I spent my honeymoon sipping coconut cocktails and downloading books from the convenience of my beach bed (oh yes, there are beds on the private beach). Needless to say, I am now a devoted digital reader when I travel. (And I’d probably be a devoted digital reader at home too… if only I could give myself long enough of a break to read while not on vacation.)
Since then, I’ve been looking for a subscription based e-book service that allows me to try out new books on the fly without having to commit to them on the spot. (The pressure of picking out the perfect book is how I end up spending almost as much time researching new literature as I do reading it.) So I am really excited that we get to partner with Oyster today on APW’s very own honeymoon reading list, because it combines my favorite things:
- Not having to get up from your comfy spot while on vacation
- Risk-free purchases
- Recommended book lists
If you haven’t heard of Oyster yet, it’s kind of like the Netflix for books. You pay $9.95 for monthly access to their library of over 500,000 titles (or start a free 30-day trial here). All Oyster books can be read at will on either your iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire, or NookHD. You can sync up to six devices if you want to use switch between a phone and a tablet, and since Oyster stores your ten most recently viewed books for offline reading, you can stock up on reads before traveling to avoid international data charges. Oyster says their mission is to lower the barrier to trying out new books, especially ones you might be hesitant to purchase outright.
Humorously, it turns out most of the APW staff accidentally took really heavy reads with us on our honeymoons. (But who’s surprised about that? Not us.) So we thought we’d put together a list of our favorite books for reading poolside, combined with a list of our favorite books that you should probably leave at home for when your partner is gone and you’ve got a bottle of wine handy. The following list is from our reader-in-chief Meg. (I’ve built my current library almost exclusively from her recommendations.) She says browsing Oyster feels like all the library browsing she did as a child, before the world went digital. It’s funny how sometimes the perfectly designed digital space brings us right back to the pleasures of real life browsing.
Meg’s Honeymoon reads:
11/22/63 by Steven King: Look, if there is one book on this list that you MUST READ on your honeymoon, I’d argue this is it. Steven King’s 842-page time travel novel about the assassination of JFK is such a page-turner that I read it in three days. It landed on the New York Times top 10 best books of 2011 list for a reason, but unlike most of the books that end up there, it was pure joy to read. I want to read it again right now. I can stop work to do that, right?
How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran: Since this was an APW book club pick circa 2011, before it was even out in the US, you might have read it. But then again, you might not have been an APW reader then, and haven’t gotten around to it. If so, SEIZE THE DAY. Or the honeymoon. I didn’t read this on my honeymoon (wasn’t out yet), but I did read it on the Islands in Greece. It was one the best, most thought-provoking, inspiring, and funniest vacation reads I’ve ever stumbled on. Hell yes, feminism.
Happily Ever After by Harriet Evans: Because it’s clearly hilarious to read a book by this title on your honeymoon! Ha. No, let me be totally frank here. UK bestseller Harriet Evans is my new cousin-(not)-in-law, and is a funny and amazing badass feminist, who also happens to write some of the page turning-est chick lit books that exist. Until I met her, and really soaked in her arguments for why commercial women’s literature is not taken seriously (which are the same as my arguments around running a commercial women’s website), I’d pretended I was too good for chick lit. Let’s all eye roll at past-Meg. After reading some of her stuff, I wondered WHY, exactly, I hadn’t figured out this is how you do light reading ages ago. Because LITERATURE is great, but I’m not always in the mood. So do some light reading at the pool, courtesy of a feminist.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie: Apparently this is the world’s best selling mystery. DESERVED. I was possibly a slightly precious reader as a child (who had no TV to distract her), so I read all of Agatha Christie’s oeuvre in middle school. This is one of the best. It’s light enough to be perfect for the pool, and engrossing enough to keep you guessing. And guessing. (Hint: If you suspect them, they’re out. If you suspect them because you don’t suspect them, they’re also out.)
The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephan Chbosky: Confession, I haven’t read this book yet, but I want to. But the movie was fantastic. (It somehow wrapped it’s arms around exactly what teenager-hood felt like to me. I saw it while I was waiting to give birth and sobbed over the “one day we’ll have kids” ending. ) And books are always better than movies.
A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers: His first. What put him on the map. There was a point back in 2002 in NYC, where this novel was so popular (and for such good reason) it was sort of uncool to admit you actually liked it. I loved it, and I really don’t care who knows.
1,000 Places To See Before You Die For planning all the mini-moons you’ll have, for the rest of your long lives together. Honeymoons are for dreaming. Suddenly I’m sad I’m not on my honeymoon again.
NOT Honeymoon reads:
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon: Look. It’s supposed to be great. (I love Chabon, though I sometimes struggle with him, but it’s always worth it.) But it has a twelve page long sentence. It’s… not a beach read. I carried around a Chabon book for my whole honeymoon, and never made it past page two. It ended up being one of the best books I’d ever read, but the honeymoon was not the time or the place for it.
A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggars: I worked on this (keyword, worked) through the last days of my pregnancy. It’s good, in a Death of a Salesman kind of way. But the pages don’t exactly fly through your fingers. Leave it for bedtimes, on work nights.
The Wife by Meg Wolitzer: I haven’t read this one yet either, but I’m pretty sure I want to. That said, the tale of a failing marriage is basically what you don’t need to bring with you on your honeymoon. Seriously. I know you’ll feel all ironic and wise doing it, but the nonsense fights you’ll pick (if you’re anything like me) are not going to be appreciated.
Since APW is full of the smartest readers on the Internet, we thought we’d kick it to you guys for your recommendations.
Which books should everyone be loading onto their devices for the honeymoon and which ones do we definitely want to read, but maybe later in the comfort of our own homes? and stay tuned next week for a few more summer reading picks from the rest of the staff!