Road Trip Recap and Book Haul

Just over a week ago I posted that I was going on a road trip and was so proud of myself for checking out audiobook versions of some titles that are on my current TBR Action Center. The Girl on the Train, A Moveable Feast, and My Reading Life.

I rented a car for this trip because my car has recently become unreliable. We’re looking to eventually replace my car with a small SUV. On vacation earlier this year we rented a Jeep Patriot. It was nice to have such an extended test drive, so for this trip I rented a Fiat 500x. It was comfortable and handled well, but there was one tiny problem.

Fiat 500x white rental
Fiat 500x claims up to 34 mpg highway, but during my trip it never went over 27 mpg.

The drive started with bookish podcasts. Books on the Nightstand, The Readers, Literary Disco. It was smooth sailing through CT, NY, NJ. After I ran out of new podcast episodes, it was time to crack open an audiobook. I had the disc in hand, looked at the dashboard, and it was then that I realized there was no CD player. Whaaa? Doh! Technology.

My car is a 2004 VW with a cassette deck and a CD player. I know cassette players are a thing of the past, but I thought CD players were still standard. Apparently not. Hello smart phone revolution. Anyway, I gazed at the dashboard for a few seconds, rather at a loss, before laughing about the situation. So much for the audiobook plans.

Fiat 500x no cd player
No CD player here, grandma!

I listened to some music. Turning on the radio in NJ meant lots of Billy Joel and similar. When I got to the hotel that evening I revived my Audible account, but never got around to downloading a book for the next leg of the journey. I like podcasts and some radio, but I also like quiet, too. But, man, I wanted to listen to The Girl on the Train!

The primary reason for the trip was to attend Induction Day at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. This is the day that incoming freshman get sworn into the Navy and then go through a six week boot camp like experience called plebe summer. I have a young friend who invited me to attend the festivities of his induction. I-Day, as it is commonly called, is a day of events for family and friends while the plebes are being processed. The day ended with the Oath of Office ceremony at 6pm. There were some tears and lots of misty eyes as loved ones and parents said goodbye to their sons and daughters. (Women make up 28% of the class of 2020, the highest percent to date.)

At the museum bookstore I bought a copy of Reef Points, the midshipman handbook that plebes memorize over the summer. I admire the small size of this book–about 3.25″ x 5″–which makes much more sense than the bulky 6.5″ x 8.5″ Guidebook for Marines that I lugged around in boot camp (and which I think is still the same size for Marine recruits). Makes me wonder if officers might be a tad smarter. Or, if I were to put on my enlisted cap, I’d say it’s more evidence that officers do indeed have it cushier. 😉

Oath of Office, or swearing in, ceremony. Good luck, class of 2020!

Next I headed about 50 minutes down the road to DC to meet up with book blogger friend Thomas of Hogglestock. It was great to see him again and meet John and Lucy. If you read Thomas’s blog you know he’s been doing a shelf-by-shelf series about the books in his library, so it was neat to see his collection in person.

With Thomas in his library.
And I scored a few books from his library. (To clarify: Thomas gave them to me, I didn’t steal them. Although it might have been fun to steal one and see how long it took him to notice. I had friends that did that to me once when I moved. They each snuck a book out of a box and were waiting for me to eventually start wondering aloud what happened to certain books. Back then I was hyper anal about organizing my books. Unpacking and shelving my books was traditionally the first thing I did when setting up a new apartment. That time I was too busy with a new job and broke from tradition. They started asking not so subtle questions about my books and soon the cat was out of the bag. It ended up being funny for all of us).

Anyway, the books Thomas gave me are:

The duck is from Politics & Prose…Thomas bought it for me…should I name it Thomas?
  • Shadow of a Man by Mary Sarton
  • Spiderweb by Penelope Lively
  • The Sure Thing by Merle Miller
We eventually headed over to Politics & Prose for a browse and lunch. We started off downstairs, in their excellent remainder section, where we both found goodies. Then headed upstairs to the fiction section. I would’ve loved to have spent a couple hours browsing, but also wanted to make it home before midnight.

My stack:

WildmooBooks book haul from Politics and Prose

I was planning to limit myself to 4 or 5 books, because, you know, space/time/money, and ended up with 7. Not too bad. Plans never seem to work out, exactly, when books are involved, do they?

  • Hotel De Dream by Edmund White — top two recommended by Thomas.
  • Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron 
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen — for The Readers summer readalong.
  • Women Crime Writers, The 1940s by Sarah Weinman — have had my eye on this two book collection from The Library of America since before it came out last year.
  • Women Crime Writers, The 1950s by Sarah Weinman
  • A Small Circus by Hans Fallada — have wanted to read more Fallada since reading Everyman Dies Alone in 2010.
  • Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser — for the Australian Woman Writers Challenge
Chris Wolak and Thomas Otto getting their summer reading on! The Sympathizer
Summer reading!

My drive from DC back to CT on that Friday before the 4th of July actually wasn’t that bad. I took a route through rural Pennsylvania that Thomas recommended and enjoyed the countryside. Some torrential downpours in NY slowed me down, but the drive took about nine hours. I had feared it would be more.

I did read The Girl on the Train over Independence Day weekend and loved it! Looking forward to the movie, which comes out in October.


  1. Fun! We're leaving for DC tomorrow but we're taking the train. I should really get into audiobooks for travel (I can't read while on ground transport) but I always find them too slow for me, plus loading them on my iPod is a process. Sorry you missed out on your anticipated listen!

  2. Loved traveling vicariously with you to DC. This grandma would have been scratching her head at the lack of cd player though I do listen to audiobooks on my mp3 player. Glad you got to read Girl on the Train when home.

    What great fun to catch up with Thomas. A generous guy both smart and funny. I think you should name the duck hogglestock. Adorable.

  3. After you left I realized there were so many non-bookish things I wanted to ask you. I guess it isn't too big of a surprise that we didn't much get off topic. What may seem like generosity in giving books away, is really only me trying to find a good home for some of my duplicates and not trusting the donation route to keep them out of the pulper.

    I'm off to P&P tomorrow with Nonsuch Book. I hope to be slightly more restrained.

    I liked The Girl on the Train but is it true the film takes place in the U.S.?

  4. Same here! We need more than a few hours next time. I just saw the trailer for the film and it is set in the U.S. Bummer that. There's even a shot with yoga mats. 😢

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