Time Enough To Read: 1 year, 9 books, how to choose

It’s the three day countdown until I ship out for my year in Haiti. For the past two-weeks I’ve been tossing things that I might want next year into my “Haiti box.” Now that it’s only a few short days until the flight departs, the serious packing has begun.

I’m attempting to travel as lightly as possible this year, so I’m stripping down to my barest necessities for life.

1. Books

2. Clothes

3. Medications

4. Electronics (for work and also entertainment)

Medications are pretty easy. I take what they tell me to bring: anti-malarials, advil, anti-diarrheals. And a few things I know I’ll miss: TUMS, Dayquil, Nyquil, Sutafed.

Clothes, fairly simple. I’m going for whatever’s lightest for a year in 100+ degree humidity.

Electronics. Just what I’ll need for work really: a laptop, an iPhone for quick wifi access at the Guest House.

And then there’s books. The most difficult. No one tells you when you sign up for a year of service abroad that you should ideally not be a book lover. Despite the time that I will finally have the time to read now that I’ve graduated, I don’t have the space in my bags for the dozens of books I’d like to read.



A horrible dilemma, not unlike Twilight Zone episode 8 “Time Enough At Last.” In a post-apocalyptic word, the protagonist finally has the uninterrupted time he’s always craved to read. He piles up books from the local library for each month he will have to read in the foreseeable future and excitedly sits down to begin. Only when he bends forward to pick up the first book, do his glasses slip off his face and shatter on the cold cement steps of the library. A cruel fate now that he has time enough at last.

Yes, I’m being dramatic. Together, Kelsey and I will bring around 18 books to Haiti and will trade throughout the year. It should be more than enough and maybe I will finally learn the value of rereading. Ultimately, I may have to resign myself to buying books on my iPad: a simple solution to the problem that my stubborn library-loving heart won’t accept until it’s most necessary.

In truth, I’m so grateful to be going to Haiti next week, I don’t worry about the book situation. But it’s an interesting thing to think about for fellow book lovers. It’s almost like the desert island question: “You’re trapped on a desert island for the rest of your life, what 3 books do you bring with you?” Instead of a lifetime, it’s a year, and instead of three, you can pick nine.

So, fill me in: “You’re moving to Haiti for a year, what 9 books do you bring with you to occupy your time?”

Here’s what my list looks like so far:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Raise High the Roof beam Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
Make Us Aware by Reverend Dr. James Leslie
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Paper Towns by John Greene (on my iPad)

4 thoughts on “Time Enough To Read: 1 year, 9 books, how to choose

  1. Wow, what a great question… it really got me thinking! It’s hard because I think I would be tempted to bring some of my favorites — my list of books I want to read is so long that I don’t tend to re-read very much, but that would be a good opportunity to dive again into some favorites. Plus, I suppose all 7 Harry Potters would be hard to pack ;).

    I am so excited for you and your upcoming, life-changing journey… both your life, and those of the people you meet in Haiti! Will you continue to blog from there? If so, I look forward to continuing to follow your adventures! All the best to you!!


    • Thanks so much for your thoughts, Wendy! I do plan to blog from Haiti…as a matter of fact, I’m planning to sit down and do some writing for the blog today. The 7 Harry Potter books were a tricky decision not to pack. If only they weighed less! On the bright side, it turns out there’s a whole bookcase of books here that I haven’t read so I don’t think I will ever run out.

  2. I will concede that having a pile of books on my nook while traveling helps make answering the question easier … or at least a larger variety of options is easier to accommodate! And even though this is late in response, will comment anyway! Assuming you had to select just a handful of “hard” books to bring along, here’s a few that come to mind, Life of Pi, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Alchemist, To Kill a Mockingbird. One of my favorite reads last summer was The Boys in the Boat, the story of the 1936 Olympic rowing team.

    • Great choices, I haven’t read about half of those! To be honest, since I’ve been here I’ve already bought two books on my iPad to read…I’m becoming an iPad/nook/kindle convert slowly but surely. In other news, we discovered a big stockpile of books hidden in one of the closets here so my fears of having nothing to read are over!

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