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I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people who can only read certain books in certain places. Pairing an environment and a book is like finding the perfect wine for a meal. I mean, yes, more is always better, but the point is, it’s an art.

I know this is a little late, but I was pretty busy braving the massive lines in NYC before the storm hit. If you’re not from around here, the New Yorker way to deal with natural disaster is to close the blinds and pour a drink, so the grocery store lines were out the door. Literally. Walk in and all of the water bottles were still on the shelves, but the beer, wine, and liquor were cleaned out. Gotta love that city mindset.

Anyway, this weekend was particularly apt for scenic reading as we had to prepare to go without electricity. It never went out in my building, but I made sure my kindle was charged and I had books on hand that would see me through the storm. I figured there were two types of books I’d want to read if it got really bad:

Category #1: Ship Breaker

Read this type of book when you want to go all out and embrace the madness. While you sit inside and ignore the rain pounding at your window, you can read about what happens if a natural disaster gets really crazy. Also consider The Wizard of Oz. If you’re genuinely afraid of getting swept away in a hurricane, this may not be your best bet. In that case, try…


Category #2: Sloppy Firsts

Sometimes it’s better to just shut off from whatever is happening outside. I know during the firestorm of 2007, there was no way I was going to open a book about a wild fire. In that case just find a lighthearted, preferably hilariously funny book that will make you forget all about the state of disaster right outside your door. If the characters in your book are clueless high school students who care more about who is dating who than the state of current affairs, it’s very likely you’ll be sucked in and suddenly it’s all like, what? Hurricane?

I know Irene ended up being kind of a let down (I wanted crazy wind! I wanted insane rain! I wanted to be huddled in the basement with all of the other student staff playing hours of gin rummy by flashlight! What, too much?), but it never hurts to be prepared. The next time your town is plagued by locusts or there’s acid rain, you’ll know how to quickly and efficiently categorize your books into those worth taking with you to the evacuation center, and those you might want to leave at home.


I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people who can only read certain books in certain places. Pairing an environment and a book is like finding the perfect wine for a meal. I mean, yes, more is always better, but the point is, it’s an art.

Like this one time, I was making my way through all seven Harry Potter books in time for the sixth movie premier, so I brought the fourth book with me to the beach. It did not work out. There’s something about reading about magic in a huge Scottish castle that just did not mesh with the sand ‘n surf atmosphere. So then I had to stop reading, but I didn’t have my iPod and we’d run out of chips and I was just kind of lying there for the whole afternoon and the water was too cold and it just ruined the whole experience.

Now I’m a lot more careful about the books I bring to the beach with me.

I’ve found it’s incredible important to have three books with you at the beach at all times.

Category #1: (this week the position is filled by Anna and the French Kiss)
This book should be fun and light, preferably with a swoony guy. Ann and the French Kiss will be perfect, especially since I’ve heard the swoony guy in question is French. This position can usually be filled by a Sarah Dessen book (see: The Truth About Forever and Keeping the Moon), although some of her books do fall into…

Category #2: (currently occupied by The Sky is Everywhere)
This book should be that book that you’ve been hearing about, that’s just so so so good, the one that none of your friends could put down but for some reason you haven’t read it yet. For a lot of people, this summer that book is The Help, but may I also suggest 13 Reasons Why or Looking for Alaska?

Category 3: (Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks)
This one is different for everyone, because the only requirement is that it’s a book you’ve already read and loved. I loved Disreputable History the first time I read it, but it was for a class so I thought I’d give it the time and devotion it deserved.

Even if you’re only going for the day, having all three of these books with you is extremely important. Take it from someone who’s been there. How are you supposed to know what your beach experience will be like until you get there? Maybe it’s so ridiculously hot that you can’t concentrate that well, in which case rereading a book is probably your most relaxing option. Maybe it’ll be a little windy and gray and suddenly you’ll be feeling a little contemplative, making a Category 2 seem more appealing. You never know.


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