In her book Things I Want My Daughters To Know: A Small Book About the Big Issues in Life, Alexandra Stoddard advises:
Being self-sufficient in a strange place is empowering. Traveling heavy reduces anxiety. (p. 22)While Stoddard's advice applies to the broader spectrum of life, for purposes of my upcoming trip, I am taking her advice on the simple level and am packing four books that will add weight to my luggage. I made this decision after weighing the pros and cons of only taking my iPad and eschewing traditional books. It is easier to share printed books with my husband. It is easier to make notes in the margins of printed books. And I am taking my laptop anyway because I need a traditional keyboard to write at any length.
Since we are embarking for France, the books I'm taking focus on France. David McCullough's biography of John Adams was so interesting that I just bought The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, which sketches the lives of Americans in Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900.
The Back Roads France provides 24 "leisurely drives" in different regions -- maps and suggestions on what to see and where to stay. It will come in handy if we are in search of additional inspiration.
Champlain's Dream tells the story of the remarkable Samuel de Champlain, the father of New France and the reason why my husband's family set off for the New World centuries ago.
Finally, when in France one must eat ... and eat. The little red book from Michelin is invaluable for finding hotels and restaurants in every town. Why wait to get there before buying the book? It is a perfect airplane companion.