The Best Books to Bring on Vacation

One of my favorite parts of writing Cup of Jo is getting comments from women who read the site. Everyone is smart and funny, and I’ve learned so much. But now and again, we’ll get questions, and I figured I’d tackle a few, with help from expert friends (and please weigh in!)…

Q. Now that summer is coming, there a natural bug spray that actually works?
A. My friend Yolanda, who spends a ton of time outside upstate, swears by Dr. Fedorenko True Organic Bug Stick. Apparently, it really works, it’s organic, and it smells great.

Q. My boyfriend and I are going on a long-awaited weekend trip. What book do you recommend I read by the pool?
A. Alex teases me for bringing depressing books on vacation (like this and this) — he’s right that it’s nice to bring something breezier. How about a memoir by a female comedy writer: Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Jessie Klein or Issa Rae? And Kelly Oxford’s new book came out this week. You can pick them up, put them down, and laugh over your umbrella drink.

Q. You mentioned a dinner party, where you put the boys to bed after the guests had arrived. But how? My kids would have been swinging from the rafters all night.
A. All families have different approaches that work for them, but we’ve always tried to be super strict about bedtime, so our kids know we’re not messing around. For dinner parties, we go over the plan ahead of time: All day, we’ll talk about how they can say hi to the grown-ups and eat a few chips as long as they go to bed afterward with just a song and a kiss. If they’re whining, we try to change the subject: “Do you want the door closed or cracked?” Lexi’s sister has a great idea, too: She lets her kids start out sleeping in her bed, which makes them extra cozy and happy.

COf course, it’s not always perfect: A few months ago, we had people over, and Alex went to check on the boys an hour after they had gone to bed. He came back into the living room and whispered in my ear, “So, Anton is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.” We had to politely excuse ourselves and search for him and it turned out he was hiding under our bed playing with toys! We still laugh about it, and sometimes we’ll randomly walk up to each other and whisper ANTON IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.

Q. My mom’s coming to visit me in New York. What are the good Broadway plays right now?
A. How fun! I haven’t seen a play in forever, but my friend is an entertainment lawyer and sees everything. She recommends The Play That Goes Wrong, Come From Away and Bandstand. Plus, she says, “Dear Evan Hansen is the hottest non-Hamilton ticket, although it’s a little dark.” Overall, if you’re researching plays, she recommends going to the New York Times Theatre section and checking out the “Critics Picks.”

Q. What shoes will fit my wide feet? Even Converse aren’t comfy for me. Slippers? Flip flops? Moon boots???
A. My feet are a wide size 10, so I feel you! These days, I’m loving Nisolo sandals (and here’s a similar wide style from Target); Allbirds are quite literally the most comfortable shoes in the world; and of course Birkenstocks are legendary as being good knock-around sandals (this color is cute). Also, ASOS has a “wide fit” section with more than 400 styles. Good luck!

Thoughts? Do you agree with these? Any different answers? And please leave any other questions — on any topic — below!

P.S. How to introduce someone, and 7 funny Instagram accounts.

(Photo by Jimmy Marble.)