I wanted to call this post ‘packing light for book lovers’ but I am not sure how good my advice will be on the keeping-it-light front so I’ll keep to a more modest title.
If you are both an avid reader and a backpacking traveller, you have likely faced some difficult choices besides deciding which pair of jeans to keep and which to leave behind / ditch. I’ve had a couple of years experience of frequent moving and long-ish trips (3 to 4 months at a time) but every time the issue comes back to haunt me: what to do with the books? This is where my no frills approach to travel clashes with the amount of books I need to remain happy.
Here are the strategies I have adopted so far, not always successfully:
1. Prevention: do not accumulate books in the first place! Do not hoard!
I know what you’re thinking: books are life! But avoiding accumulation of books, or any other bulky item, is key to moving swiftly along after a time of sedentary living.
The first inexpensive and obvious way to keep reading without the hurdle of storing books is to use a public library, especially if you are lucky enough to live near one.
Donating books to friends (circulation of love) or to libraries when you’re done reading them and are not planning to use them again soon, is a salutary habit that will save you a lot of time when you are looking to start a journey without a fixed destination. Plus, your friends and local library will love you for it.
Like every decent pep talk person, I do not always follow my very sensible advice, which brings us to the next point.
2. Convert to e-reader
It will change your travelling life, I promise. I use an old Kindle model that I’ve bummed around with for over 2 years. It appeals to the hoarder in me since I can keep many of my books with me without adding weight or volume to my luggage.
3. Sell your books to a second-hand book shop
You said you’d avoid buying too many books, and hoarding them. This has not quite worked out as planned despite going for ebooks as much as possible. Now you need a quick fix? I feel you.
Second-hand book shops can get some books off your hands while lining your pockets with a bit of cash or coupons (do NOT fall for the coupons or you’ll end up leaving with as many books as you brought!). I used to sell mine at an English-language book shop on Sukhumvit in Bangkok.
4. Keep a box / shelf at a reliable friend’s house
There are books you’ll be able to give away easily and others you’ll want to use again after you settle down somewhere for a few months or years. I’m sure you can find a friend or a relative who’ll keep those for you until you give them the call. Just don’t burden someone with your full Agatha Christie collection.
For this trip, I’ll make sure I keep to a maximum of 2 physical books on top of my Kindle. I must admit that one fine thing about Paris that I will definitely miss is the availability of so many awesome public libraries.