I first heard of the word, bookpacking, in the Suite101 post. I think it is great to have an actual, understandable, word for something I have been doing since I learned to read.
In the bookpacking post the writer combines bookpacking with exercise. I haven’t always done it that way, at least not deliberately. I do take the bus, walk along downtown, go shopping or even take a day trip or road trip. I always pack a book with me (and my camera for the past several years).
Are you one of the people who typically carries at least one book around with you, where ever you go? Even if you might not get a chance to settle in somewhere and have the alone, or quiet time to read… do you always have a book, just in case? I do.
I don’t think you can take an eReader on a bookpacking excursion. It might get bumped and banged around, it could get wet or you may not have enough battery power to keep the lights on. Besides, there are always times when the old reliable paperback is just what you need.
The Elements of Successful Bookpacking
First, the book you want to read. Not just any book you happened to pick. You need a good book and a book you are in the mood to read. You could pick a book which is well written and seems to have a great story… but you just aren’t in the mood to read it for some reason. So, you need the right book at the right time.
Second, you need something to carry your book and other accumulated gear around with you. These days we often carry around more stuff in order to be green. I keep a backpack with cloth bags for grocery shopping, sometimes a reusable coffee mug too. The mug doesn’t work out so well if you stop at a second place before you have washed it out.
My backpack gives me space to stash my purse inside it too. If I’m on a longer trip I carry a map book, my camera, paper and pens and assorted other standard stuff (for me).
Make sure whatever you use to carry around your stuff is easy to carry around. Don’t pick something which is already a bit heavy, even before you pack it up. It’s only going to get heavier.
Next up is location. Not everyone can read just anywhere. I like semi-quiet. A little distraction with people watching is nice too. I tend to pick coffee shops. I really like enjoying a coffee while I read. Other nice places are libraries, museums, restaurants… pretty much any place with a comfortable chair, table and a niche that blocks out noise if it’s a busy place.
Bookmarks. Of course, you can turn down the top of a page. But this contributes to making books dog-earred. Meanwhile you can use anything slim enough as a bookmark. You could even use a real, actual bookmark.
Those real on-the-go sort of bookpackers might want a portable chair. However, this isn’t practical for the added weight of hauling it around yourself. For those with a vehicle to haul a portable chair around for them, it seems a bit redundant when you already have a nicely padded chair in the vehicle. But, it could be nice if you are on a bicycle or motorbike and want to take a break to read in the great outdoors. (Even then it occurs to me that a picnic blanket would be a better choice for it’s weight and multi-purposeness).
One thing I can not do is read on a moving vehicle. So, you may find yourself enjoying to read on the bus, ferry, and so on. There really are endless great locations to pull out your book and read a few pages or a few chapters if you have the time. If you do discover you can’t read on a moving vehicle either, just put your book away and try to look off into the distance for awhile. You may need to abandon the vehicle for at least a short time. Stop off at a coffee shop and read awhile, outside the vehicle or while the vehicle is parked.
On a Side Note…
There are a few times and instances when you shouldn’t bring out a book and read. Your brother may not think well of you if you bring a book to his hockey game and sit in the arena with your nose stuck in a book, not really watching his hockey game more than the odd quick glance up. Every once in awhile this comes up in my family. But, I am the only true bookpacker in the group. Still, its good to remember that not everyone is into bookpacking.