A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Books to Pack for Your Adventures

By Stephany Kim, SAL Intern

Summer has a way of beckoning us out of our daily routines and into adventure—in my case, I find myself restlessly drumming my fingers against my desk as I daydream about what lies beyond my lecture hall this season. I often look out the windows and imagine myself cruising through the canals of Venice, feeling the ancient temple of Angkor Wat against my fingertips, climbing the high mountains of Patagonia, and of course, eating all the local cuisine along the way. Long gone are the days of exams and deadlines!

While these out-of-the-country travels remain far out of reach for a full-time college student like me, I am fortunate enough to be traveling to Maui with the Chamber Singers of Cornell University this summer. For me, a chance to travel means a chance to turn off my phone, close my laptop, and read—plane rides, layovers, in between activities, and so on. I have a terrible habit of packing way too many books wherever I go (last Christmas, I packed seven books while visiting my grandma for three days, all the while refusing to use my e-book), so this trip, I am planning on limiting myself to just two books, one novel recommended by a good friend and one poetry collection by a professor: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong.

If you are feeling inspired to go traveling this summer, even just vicariously through fictional characters, here is how the team at SAL are filling out the “about travel or read while traveling” square of their 2018 Summer Book Bingo cards!

Alexandra Chase, Donor Relations Associate

“My totally unattainable dream destination for reading this summer is a beach in Greece with a glass of rosé in hand. My more realistic dream destination for reading this summer is a hammock in the mountains. For my upcoming camping trip, I’ll probably bring Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, and I am hoping to read some more poetry from Kate Tempest’s Hold Your Own. I’m also working on finishing The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.”


Ruth Dickey, SAL Executive Director

“This summer, I’ll be reading Road to Santiago by Kathryn Harrison to get ready to walk from Bilbao to Santiago de Campostela along the Camino del Norte starting in August.  “Campostela” translates to “field of stars” and I love the image of walking 400 miles to get to a field of stars.  My biggest open question is how many books will fit in my backpack; wish me luck and no blisters!”


Christina Gould, Patron Services Manager

“Last week, my sister promised me that we will make our dream to visit Vietnam a reality. Maybe next year? In the meantime, to keep the dream alive and complete the “read while traveling” bingo square, I will be reading Catfish and Mandala: A Two – Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew X. Pham.”


Rebecca Hoogs, SAL Associate Director

“I am incredibly lucky to be traveling to Rome this summer to teach a creative writing course for the University of Washington. When I was last there, two years ago, I gobbled up Book 1 of the Neapolitan series by Elena Ferrante. And though I was intent on continuing when I returned, life (and other books) intervened. So, as I return to Rome, I will return to the series and read Book 1. If you happen to be traveling to Rome, I recommend you read Anthony Doerr’s memoir about living in Rome for a year after the birth of his twins as he tried to find his way back to writing: Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. I also recommend Rome and a Villa, published in 1952 by Eleanor Clark (who would marry Robert Penn Warren). Though some facts have changed as the city as changed, the essence of Rome remains and the collection is an evergreen lyric and poetic tribute to her four years wandering and wondering at the Eternal City.”


Alison Stagner, Events Associate & Content Editor

“In just a couple of days, I’ll be headed for Prague, city of pretzels, plentiful lager, cheap Mozart, and the world’s biggest castle! Several hours on budget Euro-airlines equals many e-books. So, besides my “read while traveling” pick, which will be The Story of My Teeth by 2018/19 LAS author Valeria Luiselli, I’m also bringing Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey for my “first in a series” square—it’s the inspiration behind the TV show The Expanse, my current sci-fi addiction. I’ll also been attempting to check off “your best friend’s favorite book” square with the novella Franny and Zooey. My bestie urged me to give the much-disparaged-by-me J.D. Salinger another try post-high school, so we’ll see how it goes. . .”

Posted in Summer Book Bingo