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Why do I always pack too many books when going on holiday?

One week in Los Angeles; seven books in my suitcase … but who reads a book day when travelling?

Why do I always pack too many books when going on holiday?
Suspended in time … Venice Beach, Los Angeles. Photograph: Xavier Arnau/Getty Images

I’m writing this from a coffee shop in Inglewood, Los Angeles. For this, my one‑week holiday, I packed seven books. What was I thinking? My suitcase was already full enough, but I managed to squeeze in Lola Olufemi’s Feminism Interrupted,On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez. Quite the range, but who reads a book a day on holiday? I had to remove myself from the house my friends are in just so that I could take some time out to read. I ordered my tea, got ready to reread On Beauty, and made it three pages in before being interrupted by a songwriter, also on holiday, who sat down next to me, a copy of Toni Morrison’s Beloved in hand.

What is it about a holiday that gives us this false sense of our reading speed and ability? Is it that we believe we are able to somehow suspend time in order to get through a small library? Or perhaps it’s panic about the idea of not having enough to read. To that end, having read three pages of my entire collection, I’m about to head to a bookshop in nearby Echo Park. To buy more books. That will take up more space in my suitcase.

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