Design

What Book to Bring on Vacation, and Other Reader Questions

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. 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!

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.

P.S. Of 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. 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), but 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.

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.)

  1. Juliette says...

    Hello! I have a question – my dear friend’s birthday is approaching, and she has a 4 month old baby and clearly needs the gift of time, rather than stuff. What’s the best treat I can get her?

  2. Big Feet? Wide Feet? Generally hate uncomfy, tight shoes?

    TOMS!
    http://www.toms.com

    I love love love them as they are comfy and last a LONG time which is important to me as I seem to trash my shoes wandering the city. As well, they are a fantastic company who aligns with my values of giving back.

  3. Lane says...

    It looks like Amazon is currently not carrying the anti-bug stick, but I found it here: http://bit.ly/2ptociJ Just in case anyone was looking! :)

  4. Phuong says...

    ANTON IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. Dead. Love your stories! Keep them coming team :)

  5. Ellen says...

    Do you have tips for good facial sunscreens? The ones with zinc are so expensive and I’m sick of buying them only to find out they are super oily or make you white like a ghost.

  6. Loving these recommendations! I just wanted to add, once on flight I took Delia Ephron’s “Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog” and another time I took an old copy of The Great Gatsby. For me the key is that the book has to be a super slim paperback that I can slip into my carry-on!

  7. Karen says...

    Shotgun Lovesongs is a great vacation read. It captured this time of life (thirties) perfectly for me.

  8. Elizabeth R says...

    Re. summer reading:
    The Ramblers: A Novel Hardcover by Aidan Donnelley Rowley
    Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
    Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau
    The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
    Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
    The Divorce Party: A Novel by Laura Dave
    God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo
    The Arrangement: A Novel by Sarah Dunn

    • We might be the same person. I just started Modern Lovers, finished Girls in White Dresses on Friday, and love anything Laura Dave writes. Definitely checking out the rest of your recs!

    • elizabeth r says...

      You must be super cool, then. :P. Also, I like your name. Incidentally, check out ‘The Opposite of Love’ by Julie Buxbaum, really anything by Laura Dave, Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid, What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, and Next Year, for Sure: A Novel Kindle Edition by Zoey Leigh Peterson if you want to check out some more books!

    • Ooooh I loved Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave. She has a new book coming out on July 11th called Hello, Sunshine!
      The Opposite of Love sounds great. Currently reading and loving Julie Buxbaum’s YA novel, Tell Me Three Things!

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Shannon says...

      Loved The Madwoman Upstairs! My absolute favorite book right now. Envy the person who hasn’t read it and gets to…

    • Thanks for the suggestions!!

  9. Regarding theater tickets, Broadway is great but don’t overlook the amazing acting and innovative plays that happen Off-Broadway. Tickets tend to be cheaper and the productions are of equal caliber (the number of seats in the house is the only determining factor between Bway and Off). Definitely check the NYTimes listings as suggested, but you really can’t go wrong with anything at the Public (where Hamilton started!), Signature, Classic Stage, or BAM.

  10. Cassie says...

    Hahahaha, oh my gosh, Anton! That’s hysterical/terrifying that Alex couldn’t find him. Thanks for sharing such a funny little real life anecdote :) I also love those one-liners that become running jokes for years to come!

  11. Rachel B. says...

    Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson is one of my favorite books, absolutely hilarious, I was laughing out loud! And if you’re a fan of Call the Midwife on PBS, the books it’s based on are really good, there are 3 in the series.

    Another size 10 wide here! I practically live in Toms and I like Vans for sneakers, they both stretch to fit my feet and don’t make my feet look bigger than they are, which is always nice. I also like tieks flats for nicer occasions, they have amazing customer service.

    • I just commented about my love for Toms, too. I’m a 9 1/2 – 10 and although my feet aren’t wide, i find most shoes just so damned uncomfy!! And, one cannot live in flip flops alone (in Boston).

      Happy Friday. :)

  12. Here’s a vote for The Play That Goes Wrong! My husband and I saw it in Britain last summer. Probably our most favorite memory of our vacation! It’s absolutely knock out drag down hilarious!

  13. Zadie Smith “Swing Time”
    I listen to the audio book as I run every day.
    Courtesy of NYPL for free as audio books can be pricey to keep purchasing.

  14. I says...

    AHHHHH I LOVE THIS. PLEASE MORE POSTS LIKE THIS.

    I’m finally moving into what I would call my first grown up apartment. (I.e. I finally have an income, it has two car garage–tandem but hey!) I’m moving across country with furniture. AHHHH. I would love a post on:
    1) how do people move w furniture? Everyone I’ve spoken to just gives what they have away or is in the military. It’s been really hard to navigate how to choose movers and I pretty much only find mover horror stories. We’re going to use PODS. But I would love to know what other people do.
    2) I love the home tours. But it took me almost two hours to find that the color on Lucy’s walls was Chantilly white. Your posts are such a treasure trove of information, but it can be really hard to find non-linearly
    3) how did people’s apartments/homes mature? I’m still in the process of figuring things out. I would love to know how spaces transformed from one to the next. What did people love having invested in (rug? Dishes?) and what did they regret? Any stories of home improvements gone awry? What were great splurges? What were just not worth it?
    4) when you do the house tours, how do people balance being renters? What things were they able to change and what things did they just accept and how did they go around it?

    • Katy says...

      I second this comment wholeheartedly. I am adulting at about 90% most days and my fiancee and I are trying to figure out how to make our home reflect that. Transitioning our hand-me-down goodwill furniture and impulsive IKEA purchases into a unified look has been challenging, to say the least. Did you all know going in how you wanted your house to look? How long did it take to develop your style/find the right furniture/find paint colors you didn’t hate/etc.? How did renting impact your ability to make your home your own (we aren’t buying in the near future)?

    • Lucia says...

      Long term renter here, the Bay Area housing market is beyond nuts! I have found that I never regret our thoughtful purchases, just the impulse buys. Just this week I replaced our cheap plastic trash can with an expensive Simple Human can and I felt like such an adult (late 30’s here, that occasional feeling of now being a “real” adult never goes away). Now, I can’t believe we put up with such an eyesore in our kitchen. As a renter, I can’t change the worn linoleum but I can make sure the things I buy are beautiful as well as utilitarian.

    • Brianna says...

      I still rent, but I’m saving up to buy in the next year or less. I’m also turning 35 in August and have recently decided that 35 will be the year my home grows up. I will purchase furniture. I will buy my own dishes and give my mother back her dishes. I will buy pots and pans that I like. I will buy frames for my artwork. I will buy artwork. I will buy lamps I like. I will stop eating like a toddler. Etc. Etc.

    • Samantha Zimmerman says...

      People like to rag on IKEA for being ‘college furniture,’ but pretty much my entire house of furniture is from there.
      The key is to a) not get the cheapest thing possible, and b) plan out what you want. Before I moved into my first big girl apartment and bought all new furniture, I browsed the website for months and picked out what I wanted and made sure it all looked nice together.
      I get my rugs from rugsUSA.com — you can find pretty much any style you want and they have amazing sales/fast shipping.

      A fun home improvement story……
      I bought my first house last summer, and when I had the plumber here to replace a toilet/fix a sink, and he found leaking pipes in my ceiling, and had to tear out the ceiling in the living room to replace the pipes TWO WEEKS after I moved in. Not a great start to homeownership, But, you learn to role with the punches and accept that you can’t control everything.
      I’ve had hiccups with pretty much every project I’ve tackled in my house.
      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ has become my motto!

  15. elizabeth says...

    “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” is a hilarious book that I started reading after someone left it in my Little Free Library – I can’t put it down! It’s written in a very clever format, and if you hail from Seattle there are numerous Pacific Northwest-specific jabs that made me laugh out loud. Even if not from Seattle, it’s a quick and funny read.

    • Oh yes! I second this recommendation. Such a great read!!
      “Today will be different” is similarly brilliant.

  16. I’ve been reading Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi and I just couldn’t put it down when husband pestered me to sleep!

  17. Hi, Joanna! Our Ecuador Huarache Sandals that you love so much are best if ordered a half size down as the woven leather tends to stretch out after a few wears. If anyone has any questions about our Ecuadors or any other styles, email us at support@nisolo.com. We’re hear to help!

  18. Kat says...

    Love this series! I can 100% vouch for Come From Away! It’s a beautiful show. My brother was the percussionist for the original run in Seattle and La Jolla and I got to see it two summers ago. WOW. Be prepared to cry your eyes out. It’s not all sad though, it’s ultimately a story of human connection and kindness in the midst of a national tragedy. Absolutely terrific and everyone should see it!

    • jill says...

      I used to work at La Jolla Playhouse and second Come From Away! It’s one of my favorite experiences EVER.

  19. Haha! Love Alex’s comment about you bringing depressing books on vacation! Still Alice is definitely one of my favourite reads. Highly recommend the movie if you haven’t watched it yet. Julianne Moore blew me away with her performance!

    Also loving all the recommendations from everyone.:)

    Books I love that would make great vacation reads:

    Fiction:

    The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza (Words can’t adequately express how much I love this book! I read it twice!)
    The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis (A beach read with substance. Read it twice!)
    Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Devoured this in two days last summer.)
    The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand (The first book I’ve read from her and my favourite so far!)
    Me before You by Jojo Moyes (The only book that’s made me cry. Also watched the movie twice and bawled like a baby.)

    Short stories:

    The Other Language by Francesca Marciano (perfect for reading by the pool or beach!)
    Paris for One by Jojo Moyes (Loved this short story collection, especially the title story!)
    Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash

    YA:

    Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
    Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

    Thrillers/Mystery/Suspense

    I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (I recommend this thriller to everyone! So. many. twists. I read it twice.)
    So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum (Just finished this one and thoroughly enjoyed it! The writing is beautiful.)
    Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (One of my favourite reads last year. I could not put it down! Wouldn’t recommend reading it during a flight since it’s about a plane crash.)
    What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan (Currently reading and can’t put it down!) Sooooo good.)

    Historical fiction:

    Tiny Little Thing by Beatrice Williams
    The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

    Nonfiction:

    Food and the City by Ina Yalof. (This was one of the books I recommended the most last year.)
    The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (I finally read this memoir last year and it quickly became one of my favourites!)
    Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (I can’t stop thinking about this memoir. I tried reading it years ago while battling an illness and I didn’t get very far. It was just a matter of wrong timing. I picked it up again last summer and devoured it in two days. Gripping and harrowing for sure!)
    A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett (I could not put this memoir down. Vivid, beautifully-written, and . I read it a few years ago and it’s stayed with me.)

    Recently read and can’t stop thinking about: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. My hands trembled while reading certain parts. It made me laugh, cry, sick to my stomach, and most of all, angry. This book should be recommended reading for everyone! Not sure if I would read it while on vacation, but that’s just me. I prefer to cry at home.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what incredible recommendations, thank you so much, donna!

    • Cyn says...

      Wow Donna, thank you for this list! I’ll be checking back to it again and again over the summer :)

    • You’re welcome, Joanna! Would love to hear if you check any of them out. I also emailed you the list!
      Ooooh and thanks so much for including my comment in your weekend links post.?

      Love from Toronto.

    • Happy to share, Cyn! Would love to hear your thoughts when you read them.?

    • Katie says...

      Great recommendations! Do you have a goodreads account or curated list of books you love? I’d definitely check it out!

  20. I love the idea about how to get kids sleeping for dinner parties. I always allow m kids to start out in my bed as well., because for them its like getting a treat. Then we just carefully move them to there bed.

  21. vote for Allbirds. they kept my feet warm during a bitter cold weekend in Philly, while at the same time SO COMFY. also, i bought the same color for me & the husband to wear, cus we’re that nauseating couple. (i wear a size 7 and he has small feet, and he got a womens 10)
    i pulled the trigger on some everlane street shoes that are so pretty but they run narrow & small and then allbirds came out with the lounger and i’m just kicking myself cus i want those now…

  22. nancy says...

    I love the posts on books, thanks!!! I just finished the last of a trilogy by Jane Smiley beginning with Some Luck. It was a family saga spanning 100 years beginning on a farm in Iowa. All 3 books were spectacular – she is the best writer – just gets it and so much history – just loved it and I’m so sad because I’m missing the Langdon family already…

    • Jessica says...

      I know I’m late to the game here, but YES to Jane Smiley’s books! I loved this trilogy. Also loved A Thousand Acres and I’m reading Greenlanders right now.

  23. Rachel says...

    I’ve had huge, wide feet my whole life. Converse run narrow, so don’t blame yourself if they’re not comfy for you! For flats and loafers, I really like the brand Born. They’re a little old-ladyish (I’m 24), but so good for everyday shoes to wear with dresses or work clothes–and I’ve walked for miles in them. For gym shoes, I’ve been happy with my Nikes.

  24. Kathleen says...

    Do you find Nike running shoes to run narrow? I wear a B/M width and have had two pairs of Nikes that I cannot wear. Just wondering…

    • Ashley says...

      Brooks are the BEST running shoes for wide feet! They have a wide version of each style and I have had great luck with them on my big feet.

  25. Sofia says...

    Oh my god, for some reason I laughed so hard at the “So, Anton is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND” bit!! :D good thing I’m working from home!

  26. Maria says...

    For vacation reads, I always have a fiction book and a nonfiction one. I like to be able to pick one or the other based on my mood. For nonfiction, Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Pollan are my favorites. For fiction, I love classic British novels–Wuthering Heights, Persuasion, Far from the Madding Crowd. But right now I’m reading the Outlander series, which makes me feel scandalous.

    • Amy says...

      I just read this book and loved it! Charming!

  27. I recently finished a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt and read The Handmaid’s Tale on a beach vacation, mostly poolside. It’s not really a typical light, beach read, but I don’t usually try to find a specific type of book to take on vacation. I’m always reading, so I usually just take whatever I was going to read next, anyway. A few years ago I read Gone With The Wind while in Puerto Rico. I did read The Vacationers by Emma Straub while on vacation at a beach. I also read The Girl on The Train and Gone Girl on vacations. I have purchased books that I might not have normally found or read because I was out of reading material and found myself buying a book at the airport. This was how I found A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, which was such an endearing book. I subsequently purchased some of his other books, including Brit-Marie was Here, which I liked, as well. I also came to read I See You by Clare Mackintosh because I was looking for a book at the airport. It was a psychological thriller which I found engrossing and very much enjoyed, but would probably never have discovered otherwise. Right now I’m reading Exit West by Moshin Hamid, after hearing Terry Gross interview him on Fresh Air. So far it is a good book, with beautiful language.

  28. Kirstin says...

    If you haven’t read The Glass Castle yet (it’s over 10 years old at this point), do so before the movie comes out in the fall. I bought it years ago but never read it. I always buy the most hyped books and stack them with hopes of “getting to them soon” ….and then when I do have time, I have to make choices. I finally read it last year and loved it so much, I ordered it to teach to my sophomores this year. It’s the first book I’ve taught in years where my students would begin discussing it on their way through the door/before the bell rings. One day we were so obsessed, we googled the memoir’s people, places, and things all period (me on my computer and the students on their phones) and kept sharing our discoveries.

    • Laura says...

      Did you read Half broke Horses too then? Loved it even more than Glass Castle.

    • It’s going to be a movie?
      I LOVED this book.

  29. Sasha says...

    Wide feet shoes: me too, also very high arch and instep, + foot pain issues, so pretty hard to find anything at all that works for me.
    I can’t wear anything “cute” like flats or heels, so not sure about dress shoe options. For house slippers I wear crocs. Daily out and about shoes, I wear skechers work clogs (they look just like danskos, but have a cushion sole, so soft, and gripper treads, and are cheaper too, they come in wide). I just got a pair of merrill moab hiking boots for hikes, and I love them, also come in wide. For summer I wear chacos and sanuk flip flops. For running shoes I like the fit of brooks cascadia (mens fit me better than women’s), but I’d only recommend them if you can replace every two months because they are so badly made they fall apart that quickly.

    Best of luck!!

  30. K says...

    I saw a Derren Brown show recently which was awesome. It was in London but he was work-shopping content for New York and think he’s there now. Such an entertaining evening, highly recommended!!

    Books-wise, I still think about these months after reading them:
    A Little Life – Just so insanely engrossing and horrible and sad and brilliant.
    When Breath Becomes Air – which needs no introduction here, but I recommend to everyone.
    The Invention of Wings – so gripping! It’s about women’s rights pioneer Sarah Grimke!
    Olive Kitteridge – deliciously written.
    Gemma Burgess’ books (who is CoJo’s friend I think?)
    Cheryl Strayed – Tiny Beautiful Things is perfecto to dip in and out of. (Again, nothing new but so wonderful to read).
    Nora Ephron’s books. Obv.

    • Miriam says...

      I second The Invention of Wings. Devoured it last summer! :)

  31. Rita says...

    This comment section was so much work, I had to open 30+ tabs to deal with all the recommendations…
    Thank you!

    In return: if you like non-fiction, I really liked Nature vs Nurture and I always recommend Stiff, which is fascinating, interesting, outrageous and funny. I think the last novel I loved before the Ferrante books was Hawk, which is strange and a little different but really interesting.

  32. Jacqui says...

    For the people that enjoyed Hillbilly Elergy, I found Evicted really interesting. It gave me a totally new perspective of why people behave in ways we might find self destructive.
    Also I have some Allbirds and I looove them, it’s like wearing secret slippers all day!

  33. I find on holidays it’s great to read books that movies (or TV shows as it is becoming more popular) have been based off so that way you know the story and it’s more relaxing.
    My mum just read Lion and she loved it, I have just finished reading 13 Reasons Why and my sister has really enjoyed ANZAC Girls and the Call The Midwife books (there’s a few books the show has been based on).

  34. Celeste says...

    Joanna, I don’t know if I’ve ever connected more to you than I have at the disclosure that you wear a size 10 wide. Big-footed ladies FTW!

    • Laura says...

      I loved that admission, too. During my pregnancy last year one of my feet got suddenly wider…and I kind of love that you just threw that one out there. Feeling like a part of the club on this one, ha. Thanks for sharing! :)

  35. Valerie says...

    The story about Anton going missing made me laugh out loud for a solid minute. It reminds me of so many questionable, yet funny parenting moments. Thank you for that!

  36. Kathleen Heffner says...

    I just finished reading “mrs Lincoln’s rival” . Really enjoyed it!

  37. Robin says...

    On the wide feet issue, I have these Sam Edelman booties (in grey) and they are SO COMFORTABLE. I avoid heels normally but they are great. I tried on some New Balance sneakers today and was relieved when I changed back into my boots – they were so much comfier. And they look great! I have normally wide feet and last year I wore them through my pregnancy. So good.

  38. Yay I love book rec posts! I always bookmark and come back to them when it’s time for a new read. I just finished The Handmaids Tale so I could watch the Hulu series, now reading Before I Go by Colleen Oakley. We’re going on a trip in a week and I’ve been plotting the perfect book for the place (some of my best reading is done in the clouds).

    • Karinny says...

      Me too! I loved the History of Love!!!

  39. Elizabeth Figoni says...

    Really enjoyed this piece and loving all the new content you are trying out.

  40. Tash says...

    Hi from Australia!!

    I love your blog Jo! Just wondering if you can help – I would love some help on gift ideas for lovely mumma for their second, third + Bub. It’s always tough to think of something special to give.

    • Sasha says...

      Gift certificates for favorite take out places?

    • Melinda says...

      Hi Tash, a friend of mine recently organised the MOST BEAUTIFUL baby shower gift. She asked all the women in the mama-to-be’s life to choose a special piece of fabric and then had her own mother make them into a quilt! The grandmother-to-be even cut up her wedding dress and the lace was included. Such a special, thoughtful gift. Obviously you’d need to know or pay someone who can quilt but it’s such a lovely idea, I thought it worth mentioning…

    • Nicola says...

      My best friend has just had her third child. When she’s home and settled with each child I go over with meals on wheels. I take a bag of ingredients or a pre-made home cooked meal and feed the family. She says that a good meal that has had zero input from her and that she doesn’t even need to leave the house for is the best gift ever!

    • Tash says...

      Thank you so much ladies!! They are all such great ideas – Melinda, what a beautiful idea, I think the addition of the piece of wedding dress fabric would be so special! x

  41. amanda june says...

    fun post!

  42. Sarah says...

    I read an in depth scientific study on mosquitos reactions to natural bug sprays…the conclusion was lemon-eucalyptus based sprays are the only ones proven to work almost as well as DEET. Murphy’s naturals, REPEL and now Cutter all make one. I haven’t tried one but will soon since I just moved to Florida!
    I haven’t tried it

    • lauren says...

      Not sure if we’re talking about the same study, Sarah, but to research a story I wrote for HEALTH last year, I interviewed the scientists behind a 2015 study on repellents (as well as several other entomologists); they told me that the only “natural” repellent that performed well as an active ingredient (and it did not perform as well as DEET and picaridin) was oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), which is synthesized and not the same thing as essential oils (which are NOT effective). Oil of lemon eucalyptus isn’t recommended for children under 3, since it can cause damage to the eyes. DEET might sound yicky, but all of the experts I spoke with said it was far and away their top pick; because it’s been around for decades, there’s way more data on its immediate and long-term safety for users than there is on any other repellant. (It’s safe, by the way. Sounds scary – a lot of people conflate it with DDT – but it’s not.) Personally, I use picaridin sprays; picaridin doesn’t work quite as well as DEET does, but it doesn’t ruin synthetic clothing and plastics the way DEET can. (RIP, favorite bathing suit.) It’s also worth noting that “natural” bug sprays aren’t regulated by the EPA (unlike those containing OLE, DEET, and picaridin) and don’t have to provide evidence to back up safety or efficacy claims.

      Long story short, “natural” bug repellents made with essential oils (like the Dr. Fedorenko stick) just don’t work. If you really need to keep mosquitoes away (if, say, you’re traveling someplace where mosquito-borne illness is a concern), you’re going to have to reach for something synthesized, like OLE, picaridin, or DEET. This Consumer Reports breakdown is a good place to start looking.

    • Sasha says...

      Lauren and Amanda, thank you so much for this! I feel a little better about my back country deet habit.

  43. Ally says...

    “A Man Called Ove” – my favourite recent read, laugh out loud in some parts, tear jerker in others. And for super comfy cute shoes, another recent discovery – Another Sole http://www.anothersole.com

    • Kaycee says...

      I just ordered two!

  44. K says...

    Oh oh oh! Not exactly a ‘light’ read but Elena Ferrante’s series starting with My Brilliant Friend is amaaaaaazing. Goes deep into women-friendships, growing up, sex, and all the other important things. Soooooo good!!

    I’m currently reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and it is so beautiful…

    • Clare says...

      Yes! Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels are fantastic! I love taking them on long solo plane rides for work trips – hours go by and I don’t really notice because I’m enjoying the book so much.

  45. Susan says...

    How could you leave Amy Poehler’s book off the list?!

  46. Alexia says...

    Y’all have to read “We Were the Lucky Ones”. I am a huge reader but not a big crier; this book made me sob, but in a very cathartic way. It is based on the true story of a Jewish family in Poland living through the Holocaust. Most impressive part is that besides dramatic interpretation everything in the book actually happened to the authors ancestors.

  47. kb says...

    This little $14 collapsible camping lantern/flashlight is the best money I’ve ever spent. It comes with us when we travel because my 5-year old doesn’t like complete darkness, and it’s a special thing we use only when we’re away. I can kind of use bribery, like “if you want to use the lantern you have to stay in bed.” My 3yr old is getting into it, too. The best part is you can charge it with a plug, but there’s also a hand crank that charges it.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NIL1DFO/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  48. Love this Q&A post! Keep doing them!

  49. I know it’s a bit controversial, but how about different parents’ approaches to kids and screen time?

    P.s. those Allbirds woolen runners look SO comfortable :-)

    http://www.thislifeisbelle.com

    • Liza says...

      You weren’t asking me, but I truly believe the reason we don’t have a phone-obsessed teen is that we never limited her access to technology It wasn’t a privilege, so it was never all that exciting. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of snapping going on at our house and we have gone over the data limit twice, but the homework gets done and she never brings the phone to dinner even when we go out and her food looks particularly delicious. She reads on an iPad when she works out and before bed, does schoolwork on a laptop and talks to her friends on her phone. It’s just never been a problem. I think of it like the French giving teens wine at dinner. If it is normal it doesn’t get abused.

    • Amy says...

      I totally appreciate the comment Liza! I agree that just ‘normalizing’ the screen time within boundaries is great. I work at a desk in front of a computer almost 8 hours a day, use my iPhone for Instagram, texting, etc throughout the day and then watch some Netflix at night and I’m a sane human being with apparently a ton of screen time myself, lol!

    • Maria says...

      I think an interesting question is whether screen time affects children’s brain development. Humans were without screens until just recently, and now some small children are exposed to them for hours a day. Is this affecting their social skills? Their hand-eye coordination? Their eye-sight? Their neural pathways?

  50. Amanda says...

    I’m a huge reader and relish the free time on lazy vacations to catch up on the stacks of unread books I have around. So I usually have plenty of things in line. But I’ve also intentionally started a series, because I can bring a few books with me and gobble them all up at once. The book equivalent of binge watching. (It can help to try out the first one before you leave, though, so you can be reasonably sure you’ll like it.) Two I’d recommend are the Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) Cormoran Strike mysteries, and the Flavia de Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley (with an amazing 11-year-old protagonist.)

    • Jaime says...

      LOVE the cormoran strike mysteries! If only she would write faster haha!

  51. K says...

    Thank you to those of you who recommended “A Gentlemen in Moscow”. Started to read this morning and just gorgeous writing and so far such a compelling read. And thank you Joanna for continuing to reach out to your readers to share their “finds”. My life is richer because of the amazing content here. k

    • Lila says...

      Same, I loved that book!

    • Deb says...

      I lived in Moscow 20 years ago (for 2 years) and I LOVED “A Gentleman in Moscow”. I can picture all the streets and alleys near the Metropole Hotel where the story began. The book illuminated so many eras of Russian history as they were experienced by the gentleman in Moscow. It is a charming, sad, curious, touching perspective of life by someone who chooses to see life as a gentleman. (Where can I find an American version of that guy?) It’s a keeper!

    • Lindsey says...

      It was such a beautiful book, but the ending!! I needed to know WHY.

  52. Jen Vercelli says...

    Today the question I’m feeling the most is…how do I figure out what I’m meant to do with my life? Ha!

    I know, big question…but I really am struggling to figure out my next career.

    I always love the book recommendations here and agree with Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling recs (TF I was doubled over laughing on a flight). Finishing up Thomas Friedman’s book and also in the middle of Tess of the D’ubervilles for book club (not really a fan so far). Need to load up my kindle for vacation next month.

    • Jennifer says...

      Hi Jen,
      Have you ever heard of the podcast “Hidden Brain?” Your comment reminded me of Episode 56, “Getting Unstuck,” which talks about a really interesting approach to the question of “what do I do with my life?” Hope this is helpful!
      http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510308/hidden-brain

    • Molly K says...

      I’m also reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and it just feels so sexist to me on, like, every page. If it weren’t for that, I think I would like it.

    • Laura C. says...

      Jen, we’re on the same boat, darling! I am trying to figure out my passion and follow it. I’m turning 40 next year and I don’t want to waste more time. I wish you the best of luck.

  53. Dawn says...

    Not to steal any COJ thunder (love you ladies!), but Modern Mrs Darcy does a summer reading guide every year and it’s nearly time to be released. Books are her thang, and its so good every time!

    • Sheilah says...

      Completely obsessed with her What Should I read next podcast.

    • I completely agree! Love Anne’s summer reading guide and What Should I Read Next? Podcast.?

  54. Liz says...

    I’m so curious to know – are you stopped ‘on the street’ often by your readers? If I ever saw you in person I would give you a big hug and thank you for your hard work on this blog! I enjoy it so much!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      liz, you are the sweetest! that made my day:) we do get stopped quite a lot and i always really love it — everyone is always friendly and sweet, and it’s fun to chat with people, especially on vacation when we can ask for local recs, etc! :)

  55. I LOVE this post!! Just what I needed on this dreary Wednesday. Where did NYC’s spring go??

    Please do this more often! :)

  56. Ashley says...

    Just came here to say I love this! Please do this more often xx

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yay, thank you! we will!

  57. G says...

    Love my allbirds! :)

  58. I just read “The Hating Game” which would have been a perfect vacation read — funny, smart, well-written, and light all at the same time. (Just reviewed on my blog too!)

    You have changed my life with the revelation that ASOS has wide fit shoes. I’m a wide size 6, which is even harder find! I thought I was the only one with small but stubby feet!

    • deb says...

      also loved “The Hating Game” :)

    • Carmen B. says...

      I just picked up this book. I’m ready to get into it this weekend.

    • Mirella says...

      One of my favorites!

  59. Karen says...

    I’ve been reading Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels, and I’ve saved the 4th in the series for my 4-day weekend at The Standard in Miami (which starts tomorrow, wheee!). The books are smart, share the incredibly rich internal lives of characters, and illustrate female friendship in a beautiful and complicated way. There’s smart zippy dialogue and a mesmerizing plot rooted in the social upheaval of 1960’s Italy. Can’t put them down!

    • Suz says...

      This series is the ULTIMATE vacation book!!!! Just perfect. Was going to add this!

    • Maria says...

      I second this, these books are a wonderful journey.

  60. ali says...

    I think about that post you did about how Seinfeld talks about bedtime all. the. time. I go into bedtime thinking this will be quick, just like Seinfeld, but then 45 mins later I’m still chatting, cuddling, and “writing” on their backs for them to guess the letters :0)

  61. Lindsay says...

    My favorite beach read has been Fitzgerald’s short stories “flappers and philosophers.” 10 summers ago I was reading it while Waiting for the train in a quiet seaside station in Portofino, and this nice older man nearby sweetly told me how his wife also loved Fitzgerald. Something about our interaction , scenery and the sentimentality he had has always made me remember that. Also Hemingway and Salinger are great choices. I associate books with where I read them so I like choosing beautiful feel good books that I can think extra fondly of. I remember reading Jane Eyre for the first time in San Diego around age 19!

    • If this were facebook, there’d be heart emojis all over this comment. Beautiful! And I am the same with books…they transport me the way a song does. I agree, Fitzgerald is always a good choice, and Jane Eyre reminds me of a summer I spent in Bournemouth when I was 12. It was my first “big girl book”. I’ve been meaning to pick it up again and see how differently it reads now that I’m decidedly now 12×3. :)

    • Karinny says...

      I second Grace’s comment <3

  62. Lindsay says...

    After reading Big Little Lies and The Husbands Secret, I’m on a Liane Moriarty kick. I also heard Dark Matter by Blake Crouch was good, haven’t read it yet, but its on the list!

  63. Just finished Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye (it may have been in the Cup of Jo comments from another post?) and it was a fun read. A reimagining of Jane Eyre…

  64. JMT says...

    For wide shoes – Soft Stars!!

  65. Angela says...

    I like Kate Morton books, but The Forgotten Garden is my favorite of hers.

    Also, I am in a book club that reads only children’s literature. We are going old-school, reading Anne of Green Gables this month. The writing is so beautiful, and though there are portions of the story that would offend feminists, I think the portrayals are accurate for the time period and, regardless, Anne is such a fun, lively, admirable heroine.

    • Ashley says...

      I just reread these as an adult. I missed so much of what happened as I hadn’t been in love yet. I think they are a beautiful story of a family, and how somethings never change (like Anne and her hair :)

    • Deanne says...

      I would love to be in a Children’s Literature book club. How cool!

    • Allison says...

      I love the idea of a kidlit book club! I mostly read that genre anyway and there is so much good stuff. If you have only read the Anne books, go find Magic for Marigold and The Blue Castle (my 2 favourite LMM books).

      I am loving reading The Secret Garden again (it has been years) to my daughter at bedtime. Bedtime stories when they reach the chapter book phase are so fun. The children’s lit book I’d recommend for a holiday is I Capture the Castle.

    • Miriam says...

      Anne of Green Gables is still one of my favourite books. I love the whole series & read them every few years! There is also a recent audiobook read by Rachel McAdams which I highly recommend. I’ve always been apprehensive about listening to an audio version because I’ve been afraid the reader’s voice might spoil it but Rachel’s reading actually enhanced the story for me. It was a great match.

  66. Laura says...

    I saw Come From Away before it went to Broadway and it is wonderful. You will laugh and cry and love it. Going to see Evan Hansen in a few weeks. Also, great vacation reads (not too scary or depressing) for me lately have been The Rocks, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, and Commonwealth.

    • naomi says...

      Saw Dear Evan Hansen a few weeks ago and I am OBSESSED. Literally looking at tix on seat geek and stub hub daily to see if I can snag a deal to see it again because it was SO FREAKING GOOD!! I laughed and I cried. (ok,so maybe i bawled.) But easily the best show I’ve seen recently, maybe ever. Ben Platt is just, wow. Incredible. Make sure to have tissues with you and have the cast album downloaded and ready to listen to on repeat once you walk out of that theater :)

  67. I would *love* to see COJ do a post that asks mothers “What songs do you sing to your kids?” I’d love to get recommendations! Being sung to as a kid is pure magic. I hunted far and wide for the perfect lullaby/bedtime song to teach myself while I was pregnant — and that I was certain wouldn’t get tiresome after singing it a million times. With the help of a friend, I found “Comfort” by Deb Talan (co-lead singer of The Weepies) and it’s been nothing short of life saving for us these first 7 months of our daughter’s life. I sang it no less than 12 times per day when she was a newborn, every time she ate and got sleepy, and always at bedtime. Then I started using it as a way to encourage her to relax when she got upset. Now, when sleep training her, all I have to do is turn out the light and start singing and she becomes putty in my arms. It’s truly Pavlovian how that song makes her instantly sleepy. Now I need songs that are upbeat to keep her awake and entertained!!

    • Oh, not just what mothers sing — fathers too! Having grown up getting sung to sleep by my dad with at least 3 songs per night, I should have known better than to exclude the papas!

    • I love this! My almost-2-year old’s favorite phrase seems to be “more song” these days. Our standbys for bedtime are “Edelweiss,” “L-O-V-E” (the Natalie Cole version), and “Blackbird” and “I Will” by the Beatles.

    • Sarah says...

      My mom sang me “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as a child and now I have sung it to my son (almost 3) and daughter (9 months) since they were born. i also switch it up with “Amazing Grace”. I hope they will sing the same songs to their children someday.

    • Caitlin says...

      The kids I take care love when I sing “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music and “‘Tis the Gift To Be Simple”! Very sweet and mellow songs! Good luck!

    • Meggie says...

      This is such a great idea! I picked my favorite hymn in a major key when my first child was born because it was relaxing for me (I chose come thou fount of every blessing) and now that I’m expecting #2 I’ve been really thinking about what will be helpful this time around, it seems just as calming to me as it is for the babies! As for upbeat songs, we really like the Raffi Pandora station or Elizabeth Mitchell is another favorite though typically calmer. Hooray for music and it’s effects on our lives!

    • Deb says...

      My son was adopted at 4. Our 1st night I sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and “Jesus Loves Me”. I then sung those same songs every night until he was 6, when he wanted “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” every night for 2 years. The whole month of December is always old classic Christmas carols. As he grew, the songs changed, but had to be sung every night. We just stopped when he decided he was too old for it in 8th grade :)

    • Andrea says...

      Ohhh thank you for this comment! I am a very new mama (baby is 3 days + some odd hours!). I’m relaxing in my first bath since delivering her and indulging in catching up on COJ posts I’ve missed, and am now listening to “Comfort” on repeat! It’s lovely and I want to learn it too!
      My husband sang “The Rainbow Connection” to her in uterine often, so we’ve been doing that one for a lullaby as well. For more upbeat, try Googling “The Current: Rock the Cradle” – it’s the Minnesota Public Radio kids’ station that can be streamed online. From my experience listening to it with friends’ kids, it’s pretty great. You might discover some gems. :)

    • Sasha says...

      I sang “blackbird” by the Beatles to my daughter. When she graduated high school two years ago I sewed her a quilt (a big feat for me, i highly recommend a “strip” quilt if you are not a quilter, but nonetheless want to make a quilt), with the lyrics “you were only waiting for this moment to arise.”

      To the children I nanny, I sing “you are my sunshine”, “brahms lullabye”, rockabye baby and I make up a lot of songs too.

      When I was in grad school, a fellow student w
      walked around my cubicle one day and told me that hearing my voice had brought her to tears. She had been orphaned but remembered her mother singing to her, and her voice was like mine. I think of the power of singing to a child so often.

    • Sarah says...

      Love this idea. My mom sang to us every night and I’ve loved carrying on the tradition, starting when I was 18 weeks pregnant with my now 3 year old son and learned that his hearing was developing in utero! Favorites include: A you’re Adorable, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Edelweiss, I love you a bushel and a peck, skidamarink, and Dream a little dream.

    • Celina says...

      I also sing Amazing Grace every night to my 18 month old, and have done so since day 1! It’s also a song that’s easy make up variations to when you’re humming, and easy for other caretakers to sing to her if I’m not the one putting her down.

    • Lulu says...

      I sang Rainbow Connection and Free Fallin to my 1st and plan to do the same with the 2nd. It was those 2 songs because those were the only ones I could remember the lyrics to in those sleepy confused first months of motherhood.

    • I’ve never found such a wonderfully and unexpected sentimental thread ever before. I can’t help but smile and well up with tears thinking about all the babies in arms with their parents soft voices singing to them. Makes me nostalgic for my now ‘big girls’ baby days of rocking and singing…

    • annemarie says...

      When my parents came to visit after my first daughter was born, my dad picked her up while she was fussy and started singing When I First Came To This Land, and I had such a strong physical reaction that I burst into tears. I was a terribly cranky baby (seriously, the worst ever) and he spent hours and hours and hours pacing and rocking and singing to me. Seeing him fall right back into that rhythm 26 years later was the most beautiful thing.

    • Cynthia says...

      My husband always sang David Bowie’s Starman as a lullaby when ours were little — but very softly and slowly. Now we often sing along to it in the car, and our kids know it used to be their lullaby.

  68. Laura says...

    I just read a book that might interest Alex, since he is quite the music fan. It’s called The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto and is about a guitar player who becomes a famous pop star in the 50s and 60s. The best part is that it’s narrated by Music, so it’s really like a love letter to musicians.

    • Joanna says...

      Thank you. Sounds like my thing.

  69. Maire says...

    I have been going through celebrity memoir audiobooks read by the authors- Amy Poehler, Anna Kendrick, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman. Next up, I am going to listen to Mara Wilson’s book. In terms of books that i have read- just finished If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, which was both a great YA/coming of age story but is also about a transgirl and is written by a trans author. Also, I just read How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran and I want to hug it- British, feminist, kind of lewd. So fantastic.

  70. Cait says...

    I just found out my neighborhood friend is in Come From Away! I can’t wait to see it. And a few other acting friends said that The Great Comet is one of the most amazing things they’ve ever seen, and I believe them. (As long as you don’t go into it hoping for a Josh Groban concert!)

  71. Emily says...

    A couple of weeks ago, I read Celine by Peter Heller and absolutely loved it. I described it to a friend as a grown-up Nancy Drew book! There is nothing better than a little bit of mystery poolside.

    • Lindsay says...

      Thanks, looks great!

  72. Tania says...

    ANTON IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.
    Lmao :)

  73. Kate says...

    YES- LOVING all the book suggestions :) Books I have read recently and loved: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover, and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. Really heavy subjects so not typical beach reads- but found myself thinking about these books well after I had finished reading. Thought these were lighter but entertaining: Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel, The Assistants by Camille Perri, The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle. I just started All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, and want to read The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Cline. Keep the suggestions coming :)

    • The Orphan Train is really great!

    • deb says...

      I 2nd “It ends with Us” by Colleen Hoover…timely and powerful…have read most of her books and have enjoyed all of them…

  74. Sasha says...

    We’re road tripping to Seattle for memorial day (20 yo daughter + me). Any tips?
    We’ve already rented a cute vacation cottage near the Ballard neighborhood.
    We like hiking, quirky shopping (clogs, fabric, beeswax candles, tea, chocolate), history, culture, FOOD. Beaches too.

    • Lindsay says...

      Go to golden gardens beach park. Pike place – We love the chowder and the freshly made donuts, both are too busy on weekends, so if possible go on weekday. We are pretty new here but those are my favorites. I’ve heard the farmers market in Ballard is great.

    • Ainsley says...

      You will love Ballard then! If possible, I’d plan to spend Sunday exploring the Ballard Farmer’s market and the shops, coffee shops, and restaurants on Ballard Ave (which are great any day of the week, but are even better during the market!). If you’re looking for a short hike, Discovery Park in Magnolia is just across the bridge from Ballard offers a great 3-ish mile loop with a beaches and a light house. On the chocolate front, I’ve only ever visited the tasting room, but I hear tours of Theo’s chocolate factory in Fremont are fun!

    • Junny says...

      You could also take a ferry over to Bainbridge Island and enjoy the cute shops and restaurants over there. It’s such a gorgeous view and a relaxing way to go across the water! We also have a plethora of great food options here so definitely check out Eater Seattle for some suggestions. Some Ballard favorites: Walrus and the Carpenter (for oysters), Staple & Fancy (Italian), and the Sexton (for delicious cocktails). Ballard also has the cutest little shops, Horseshoe and Camelion Design are two of my favorites. Definitely check out the farmers market on Sunday. And stop by the Ballard Locks to see salmon swimming and the boats change water levels as they go from the Puget Sound to freshwater. So cool!

    • Leah says...

      You just so perfectly pinpointed the kind of shopping I love but never thought of as a specific type of shopping.

      Quirky shopping – hah! love that!

    • Stacy says...

      Weekend brunch or weekday breakfast at Oddfellows in Capital Hill, then afterwards just walk around the immediate Pike/Pine area. TONS of shops and stuff to do, from ice cream (Molly Moon’s), mod furniture (Retrofit Home), apothecary (Sugar Pill), fabric shop (Stitches), clothing and wares (Nube), records (Everyday Music), books (Elliot Bay Bookstore), community park (Cal Anderson Park) — it’s the best location in the city to eat and casually stroll and shop around!

      I used to live in Seattle, so whenever I go back, these are the spots I always make an effort to go to:
      — Toulouse Petit in Lower Queen Anne (GO FOR WEEKDAY “HAPPY HOUR” BREAKFAST – super high end restaurant with crazy discounted breakfasts; get there when they open at 8AM to easily get a table)
      — Delancey in Ballard (normally so busy, but go at 5:30 PM on Wed or Thurs and you won’t wait at all – perfect for an earlier mid-week dinner; get the chocolate chip cookie for dessert)
      — De Luxe Bar & Grill in Capitol Hill on Broadway (if you and your daughter are night owls and love delicious greasy pub food, go here for Happy Hour bites after 10 PM on any day — or go on Wednesdays for “Burgerama”: enormous burgers with fries or salad for $5.99!)
      — Remedy Tea in Capitol Hill on 15th Avenue (modern tea spot, crazy number of delicious options)
      — Rom Mai Thai in Capitol Hill on Broadway (IMO best Thai food and service in the city — huuuuuuuuge lunch portions for a great price)
      — Ballard Farmer’s Market is the best in the city!

      Have a great time!!

    • Sasha says...

      Thank you all so so much! This is just what I was hoping for :)

    • I love Ballard! Two words: Hot Cakes. They specialize in molten chocolate cakes, but their cookies and pastries and drinking chocolates and boozy milkshakes are great too. I hear they also have real food but who has time? Molly Wizenberg (of the fabulous blog Orangette) also owns a restaurant in Ballard (Delancey) which is definitely some of the best pizza in town. Lastly, although it may not be what you want to lug home, I LOVE killing an hour at Ballard Re-Use (west of the shopping strip close to Safeway) – it’s an amazing thrift store of home wares. We got our kitchen sink, faucets, flooring, countertops and cool vintage lights there. I just like to go and dream (and pet the shop cats).

  75. Emma says...

    Roommates: My Grandfather’s Story and I Love Gootie both by Max Apple (I recommend reading in that order). These books leave you feeling full and empty all at the same time in the way that the best memoirs do. You will laugh, you will cry, and then you will thank me. :)

  76. Sasha says...

    When we go back packing we carry a bottle of 98% deet. Horrible, I know. But when you are out there, sometimes you just can’t get away and mosquitos can be unbelievably terrible. I’m talking clouds, biting through clothing, unrelenting. Nothing natural even comes close to the power of deet. I am so “good” in every other aspect of my life that hopefully it won’t take too many years off. I actually now associate the smell of deet (which is knarly) with having fun and bring happy because I love being in the wilderness more than anything. We also have mosquito repellant shirts with hoods.

  77. VB says...

    To the reader looking for vacation book recommendations, don’t forget that ebooks are always available through your local library! All you need is your library card account number & you can download to your heart’s content! No need to worry about dragging heavy books or hating the picks you brought.

  78. yael steren says...

    I know it’s old, but I still love the book Unbroken! Soooo good! xx yael

    • Sasha says...

      Such an amazing read. I LOVE that book. One of the ones I’m still recommending years later.

    • Melinda says...

      Ha! Yes. It’s a wonderful book. I couldn’t put it down. But…. I read it while flying to Puerto Rico and continued to read beachside while my husband was scuba diving. Plane down, lost at sea, sharks, etc…. Did. Not. Sleep well a few vacation nights!

  79. Egle says...

    Hi Joanna,

    the story with Anton is so cute! Any tips for Chicago? we are planning holidays in this windy city and while i am doing my own research, would be great to hear recommendations. I’ve tried to search your site and there was an article with your vacation a few years back, but if there are any tips and tricks of late, would appreciate a lot!
    thank you.

    • Angela says...

      My husbands family lived in Chicago for many years and love the restaurant “The Italian Village.” I’m pretty sure it is a front for the mob, but it’s really good food and a cool atmosphere.

    • Aura says...

      Hi! Love Chicago.

      -Portillo’s for hotdogs.

      -Heritage Bicycles for coffee and good vibes.

      -the Goddess and the Grocer for sandwiches

      -Au Cheval for the best burger of your lyfe.

    • Liz says...

      Born and raised Chicago girl here… Couple of tips:
      1. Go have a drink at the Palmer House Hotel. It is one of the most breathtaking buildings you’ll ever walk in to.
      2. If you’re there on the weekend, downtown will be crazy busy for the holidays. Head up to the Andersonville or Lincoln Square neighborhoods for a bit of respite. It’s a $15 cab ride from downtown and each are great for window shopping, cafe/bar hopping and people watching.
      3. There are a lot of fun traditional things going on at the theatre during the holidays: A Christmas Carol at The Goodman, The Nutcracker at the Joffrey Ballet, and others.
      4. The Driehaus Museum is a small museum just west of Michigan Avenue. It gets all decked out for Christmas and is just off-the-beaten-path enough to not be too crowded.

      Hope you have a great time in my hometown!!

  80. Jorden says...

    Nutshell by Ian McEwan is an odd little book that is a juicy page turner. It’s told from the perspective of a fetus (I know, I know, but it I promise works!) who is privy to his mother and her lovers plot to murder his father. It’s worth reading for the baby’s verbose but captivating language alone. You won’t want to put it AND it will grow your vocabulary.

    • Rachel says...

      I just started reading Nutshell and had the same kind of “no, seriously… it’s not as weird as it sounds” moment when I was explaining it to a friend :-) It’s a really great read!

    • Maria says...

      I enjoyed Nutshell, but The Children’s Act – also by McEwan and also a slim book – is even better. A judge in a life crisis finds her personal situation affecting her professional decisions. It’s a fascinating look into what goes on behind the scenes in the judicial world and into a successful woman’s reflections on her life choices. McEwan is an incredible writer, his sentences are a joy to read.

    • Jorden says...

      Maria, I read The Children’s Act as well and loved it! As a pediatric nurse, it was fascinating to read about how ethical situations are addressed beyond the hospital. I agree that it is a more accomplished book than Nutshell; in my mind Nutshell is a lighter read, perfect for the pool. I have enjoyed almost everything I have read by McEwan. He is, indeed, a master with words.

  81. Bethany says...

    Just finished Commonwealth by Ann Patchett and it has been one of my fav reads so far this year. I do love mysteries though for a good beach read and Peter May is one of my favorite mystery writers. We are actually planning a trip to the Lewis Islands off the coast of Scotland, because his trilogy about this area intrigued us (me, my husband and college-age son) so. Start with The Black House. Or for mystery, anything by Henning Mankell or Tana French.

    • Sasha says...

      I just checked out a Peter may book from the library, excited to start it!! Do you read Anne cleaves?

    • Sheilah says...

      Ok you are living my dream! Completely jealous of your trip. And I second the Ann Cleeves rec!

  82. We like to have friends over for dinner/drinks also and our little guy was always pretty good about getting to bed. Now that he’s more in tune to what’s going on (he’s almost three), it’s become so much harder! Last time we found him sitting outside of his room and he says to us , “I want to listen to records, too!” We let him come into the living room and he fell asleep on the couch a short while later.

  83. Alexa says...

    I highly recommend Rebecca Solnit! Her books are often thought-provoking collections of essays so they make for perfect bite-size reading and will give you lots to discuss with your vacation partner(s). “Wanderlust” and “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” are great for inspiring adventures, and I really want to check out her new book “The Mother of All Questions.”

  84. cooper says...

    I LOVED Commonwealth by Anne Patchett – one of those books with richly developed characters that weaves flips between past and present so beautifully. And I once described “My Name is Lucy Barton” to a friend as a the perfect book to read on the beach on a cloudy day, since it’s deliciously melancholy :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that description!

  85. Andrea says...

    Life Stride has some wide sizes for people who don’t wear leather.

  86. I agree on that bug stick! No bites for many vacations and backyard adventures and I looove the smell!

  87. Cara says...

    Serious but great reads: We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (a beautifully told Holocaust story based on the author’s own family history) and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. Just for FUN: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (delightfully ridiculous).

  88. Cassie says...

    Your depressing vacation books made me laugh. We went to Mexico in December and I read one Holocaust book (Mischling) and one slavery book (Underground Railroad). Both were absolutely amazing, but not really the light beach reads I was hoping for. When I found myself having an internal debate about which was worse, the Holocaust or slavery, I promptly downloaded Amy Schumer’s book on my Kindle!

  89. Lauren E. says...

    I like to read books on vacation that pertain to the trip. For example, I read Elizabeth Street during my Italian wedding/honeymoon trip, Where I Was From (Joan Didion) on a trip to LA, Skippy Dies in Ireland, and The Paris Wife on a trip to… where else… Paris. Then if I ever go back to the book, it takes me right back to the trip, as well.

    • Kate says...

      I do this too! Sometimes to help with my understanding of the history, like reading The Killing Fields in Cambodia, or sometimes just to feel really immersed in a place. My favourite travel read ever was “A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East” which I picked up in a secondhand bookshop while travelling around Southeast Asia. It’s insightful and funny and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting that part of the world!

  90. Katherine says...

    I love more difficult books on holiday! I feel like in my regular life, sometimes it can feel overwhelming to try to live my life and also read a really challenging book, so holidays are really when I have the mental space I need to dig in. I just read Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad on my trip a few weeks ago, and it was perfect!

    I also recommend reading something full of adventure, because it always makes me want to go out and explore even more! Reading books set in the location I’m visiting can increase my excitement about being there. Joan Didion has a lot of good books for this, and other thoughts might be Teju Cole’s Open City, Haruki Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, etc.

    • Nicole says...

      Oh, yes! I also tend to read short stories and essays in the little snippets of time I usually have, and save books that take more of a mental commitment on vacation. Kristin Lavransdatter, My Struggle, In Search of Lost Time…Murakami is always great too. (actually typing this out makes it seem sort of ridiculous, but I love this sort of thing!)

    • Katy says...

      Love Haruki Murakami! The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Colorless, Kafka on the Shore, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running… His writing is so are hard to explain, to be able to do it justice.

      Here’s someone else’s try…..
      Murakami is a Japanese writer but he is also a “global” one, meaning that his works are best read not as expressions of Japanese culture, but as examinations of questions that concern all humanity. What is the nature of the individual self? What is the meaning of “happiness,” or “success,” in the global age? What is the soul, and how do we get one? Why are some people turned off by the structures of contemporary societies, and what alternatives do they have? These are just a few of the many issues Murakami addresses, and they affect us all.

  91. Brooke says...

    I’m cracking up at “ANTON IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND….” !

    • Sasha says...

      Me too, “losing Anton” could be a theme…

    • Me, too! So funny, and it sounds exactly like something my husband and I would joke about for years.

    • Me three! Quietly trying to keep it together at work.

  92. Though these are the nice suggestions, I usually avoid books on vacation trips. Because I feel vacations are to steal some moments for yourself. I love reading but not on vacation.

  93. Mary H says...

    News of the World by Paulette Jiles was a fa

  94. Deirdre says...

    Sweat by Lynn Nottage just won the Pulitzer Prize for playwriting, making her the first woman to win the award twice. And I second the recommendation for Indecent by Paula Vogel. Both women have won every award in the book at this point and are only now making it to Broadway. Support women writers!!!

    • Brianna says...

      I saw Sweat yesterday. Not only is the writing fantastic but I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such good ensemble acting. It didn’t feel affected at all. Highly recommend!

    • Yes Yes Yes!

  95. Em says...

    I love Anton hiding story. Too cute!

    Also can this reader question format be a regular thing? I just love your answers!

  96. I’ve been waiting to buy some Allbirds to see what colors they come out with – and then they came out with the loungers which I’m even MORE excited about. Waiting for them to restock the Slate color!

    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

  97. Anna says...

    My question (and I know you’ve sort of covered it before) but I would love to hear how parents with one child decided not to have other children. I have a son and my husband and I are conflicted about trying for a second. How do those families know that one is right for them?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a great question, anna.

    • Lacey says...

      I’m right there with you, Anna! I would love to hear from one-child only families.

    • I would love to read a post on this topic! :)

    • Dawn says...

      When we were wondering this same thing, I took a survey of couples with older families that I trusted and asked how they decided and if they were happy with their choice now that their kids were in sr. high or older. Nine out of ten of the couples I asked all said they wished they had had one more kid in retrospect. The response surprised me, but we went for it! I am so glad we did.

    • CiEng says...

      To have a second or not, I am struggling with same question. Or maybe I am struggling with being ok with just having one child? Would love to hear other one child family stories. Thanks for bringing it up Anna!

    • Anna says...

      Dawn,
      My goodness, your comment is just lovely. I read somewhere (maybe on NYT in an article about marriage or finances? my memory of it is vague) that we should ask ourselves how many children we hope to have when we retire and that shifts many people’s perspective. But, I also can’t help but think of that Aziz Ansari skit about how having a kid(s) is a crazy gamble; couples get every thing all set – like a newly finished puzzle – and then decide to f* it all up and have a kid. The skit is hilarious, but there are some true fears for me that come up more intensely in choosing to have a second child – our lives are so great now, what if there are health problems or unforeseen challenges or stressors with a second child that we can’t anticipate? What if another child makes our lives somehow feel smaller and more difficult instead of bigger and even better?
      Anyway, thank you for chiming in! Hopefully we will see a future post here!

    • Teresa says...

      I’m sure you can find plenty of families who are really happy with one child, but I’m highly doubtful that you will find a family with two or more kids that would say they regretted having more than one.

    • Astrid says...

      Anna, you never know what a second child will bring, until you try. I guess that’s the fun part.

      Don’t be afraid, trust your gut. Fear is the worst counselor!
      Good luck with your decision!

  98. LAETITIA says...

    Just read Big Little lies on Spring break, and it is the perfect Vacation book! Now i’m excited to see the TV show!!
    Other recommendations, all books I absolutely loved:
    Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    My brilliant friend (and following books), by Elena Ferrante
    Drop City, by T.C Boyle
    A Girls guide to hunting and fishing, by Melissa Bank
    Summer things, by Joseph connolly
    The Dead Heart, by Douglas Kennedy
    Life, by Keith Richards
    One hundred years of Solitude, by Garcia Marquez

  99. Anonymous says...

    I just finished “A Gentleman in Moscow” and absolutely loved it – a beautifully written story spanning many years with a main character that I adored.

    • Crosby says...

      So. Good.

    • A really beautifully written book! Loved it!

    • oh, I loved A Gentleman in Moscow, and his first The Rules of Civility. So so so good!

  100. Hands down the most effective natural bug repellent is a bottle of lemongrass essential oil – we live in Scotland where the Scottish midge(s!) will give any biting insect a run for its money. Sprinkle the oil onto clothes/hair etc – 100% natural and smells like lemon sherbet

  101. Erica says...

    I have to recommend the Broadway play “Indecent”! My cousin co-composed and co-directed the music. We saw it last year in San Diego and we are thrilled to see it make its debut on Broadway– it opened yesterday! In fact, my family and I are traveling from CA to NYC in May to see it on the big stage. It’s a beautiful, unique play that brought tears to my eyes at points. Looking forward to seeing it again and exploring NYC in spring!

    Variety’s Review: http://variety.com/2017/legit/reviews/indecent-review-play-broadway-1202033530/

    • Rachel says...

      Excited to see it in Minnesota! The Guthrie just announced it as an addition to their schedule next year.

  102. Abby says...

    WRECKAGE – Emily Bleeker!
    The Blue Bistro – Elin Hilderbrand
    What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty
    Testimony – Anita Shrieve
    Read them all.
    Also, if you aren’t listening to S-Town, stop what you’re doing and download it now. Some things are hyped up and and some things are hyped up because they are truly magnificent. This podcast is the latter. (oh and it would be great for weekend trip ;) )

  103. Jami says...

    I thought “The Orchardist” by Amanda Coplin was an intense and deliciously written but easy to read novel, highly recommend for a vacation read!! :)

    • Carmen B. says...

      I loved this book so much. Talmadge stuck with me long after I finished the book.

    • dhs says...

      This is a great book. I got to hear the author read some excerpts which brought the story to life even more

  104. Alli says...

    Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 isn’t for everyone, but it’s breathtakingly gorgeous and unlike anything else I’ve seen on a stage.

    Can someone recommend self-tanners? I’m getting married in a month in a strapless gown, and my tan lines from bike rides I took *LAST* summer will not go away.

    • Kat says...

      Saint Tropez tanner is the best self tanner I have used at home. Watch a few YouTube tutorials for proper application, but it comes down to exfoliating A LOT before you apply, using the mit, working quickly and then wiping down hands, feet, ankles, knees and elbows to ensure no weird areas.

      I would start now and then do once a week (or every two weeks) until the wedding, and put the last coat on three or four days before the event. That way you event out and if there is any concentration in your knees or elbows you can exfoliate a bit more.

      I did this before my wedding and was really happy with the natural glow it gave me.

  105. Abby says...

    For the beach read, ALLLLLL the Liane Moriarty books!! Bar none, the best beach reads that aren’t actually silly beach reads on the market.

    • Amy says...

      Yes!

    • Kristen says...

      Yes! Taking one this weekend with me!

    • Hil says...

      I was about to write that same comment! I’ve turned so many people onto her books. They are easy to read, but interesting with complex characters and twists that make sense but I still never see coming.

    • Becca says...

      Yes! I can’t get enough of her! I wish she would publish a new one every month ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oooh i’m so curious to check her out! thanks, guys!!

  106. Laura says...

    I have wide, flat feet and I tend to wear canvas shoes like Toms and those cloth mary janes from Urban.
    As far as books, I just finished Annihilation (book 1 of the Southern Reach trilogy) by Jeff VanderMeer. I first heard about it because I was looking at Tessa Thompson’s (amazing actress from Westworld and Creed among many others) wikipedia page and saw that she’s in an upcoming movie adaptation of it! It’s also one of view sci-fi books that features a mostly female cast of characters.

    • Emma says...

      Love that series (especially Annihilation, I read it in 3 hours). Not only almost all women, the characters of the series are almost all PoC as well!

  107. Em says...

    I read your brother-in-law’s fantastic book, When Breath Becomes Air last year on vacation. I had been meaning to read it and picked it up at the airport right before boarding a plane to Chile. I finished it while sitting poolside at a little boutique hotel in the San Pedro de Atacama dessert. I definitely had tears running down my cheeks and was struggling to hold it together, while my friend was reading a chick lit next to me. I usually grab thrillers for vacation (like Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train), for that reason! It’s an incredible book that I recommend to everyone, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for vacation pool crying.

    • jen says...

      I recently read ‘Breath’ and loved it. Sad, but so, so inspiring to read such a great, outstanding kind person’s words. Loved him.

    • I read it on the plane to Paris and was weeping on the plane! Apparently I read really depressing books on vacation because I also read Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget on the same trip.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i loved blackout!!! i read that at the beach too haha.

    • Amanda says...

      I read it last year on vacation, too! It was amazing. On the same trip, my partner read All the Light We Cannot See, so we were both reading beautiful but teary books.

  108. Suzanne says...

    I’m going on a beach vacation tomorrow and packing books (enough and the right type) is always a big worry of mine before I leave!

    I’m bringing:

    Paris My Sweet – Amy Thomas
    How To Murder Your Life – Cat Marnell
    Probably one more, because 3 books for a 4 day vacation sounds about right. :)

    BRING ON THE BEACH READING!!

    • Jen says...

      We are soul sisters! I always pack more books than I can possibly read…you know, so I don’t run out of books and so I have the right books for my mood: thriller, memoir, humor, serious literture…

  109. Christine says...

    There is scientific research showing that lemon-eucalyptus based insect repellents are almost as effective as DEET based repellents against mosquitos: http://www.entsoc.org/press-releases/researchers-compare-natural-mosquito-repellents-deet .

    Although it is probably not as “natural” as others that have mentioned, I regularly use Cutter Lemon-eucalyptus insect repellent while hiking/backpacking. It’s cheap, readily available, smells decent, and is gentle on my skin. Also, while using it hiking through marshy areas I have seen mosquitos hovering 2 inches away from my arm as if there were a force field they were attempting to get through. If I stood still long enough, I would eventually get bitten but even just moving around a little bit was enough to prevent any bites.

  110. Laura says...

    Sci-Fi isn’t my typical go-to but I’m reading Dark Matter by Blake Crouch right now, and it’s been great! Probably my favorite read of 2017 so far.

    • Carmen B. says...

      Oh, I’m in the middle of Dark Matter too. It’s thrilling, sciency, and makes me anxious but I’m loving every bit.

  111. Donnia says...

    If anybody around here likes (in no particular order): Virginia Woolf, biographies, strong, beautiful, and creative women, or non-fiction, I HIGHLY recommend Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, A Close Conspiracy, by Jane Dunn. It’s a beautiful, and beautifully written, double biography of Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell, who was a painter. It goes deep into their characters, their relationship and the development of their personalities, art and creativity. Really beautiful work.

    • Celia says...

      I’ve had this book on my shelves for over a decade now and I still re-read it! One of my favourite biographies ever.

    • Nicole says...

      Oh, thank you for reminding me about this–I almost can’t believe I haven’t read it!

  112. That Anton story is too funny. Probably scary at the time, but funny in retrospect! As for pool reads, I read “Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan a few weeks ago and plan on reading the sequel “China Rich Girlfriend” on vacation in May. It really is the perfect beach read—kind of fluffy but very funny and a page-turner. Although, I also recommended that a friend read “Hillbilly Elegy” on her beach vacation. Lol

    Briana

  113. Kelly says...

    I started the Outlander series at the beginning of one summer – it got me through all weekends by the pool, beach, on planes, etc. No regrets!

    • Angela says...

      In LOVE with the book Outlander, and the show, but did you read the whole series? Just asking out if curiosity because I got partially through Dragonfly in Amber and finishing it has been like pulling teeth.

  114. Emma says...

    Another recommendation for us wide-footed gals out there (represent!) are Saltwater sandals. I got a pair last summer and wore them EVERYWHERE. As the name suggests, they are waterproof, and they’ll actually mold to your feet when you get them wet. And, bonus: they also have a little girls sizes, so you can do the whole matching mother/daughter sandals thing (which happens to be one of my super-secret cheesy life goals).

    http://www.mysaltwatersandals.com/

  115. I’m seeing Come From Away soon and can’t wait! As for beach reads, a couple of my favorites from years past have been Eligible (a modern day Pride and Prejudice) and The Royal We (about a fictional Kate Middleton).

    A semi-related vacation question: what should I bring on a 10+ hour car trip to keep my daughters (ages 1.5 and 3.5) occupied? We’ve only ever taken one trip this long and I still have post-traumatic stress from it. Thank you!!

    • Ashley says...

      Kirby- we travel frequently with our three (under five) kiddos. I always bring: stickers, WASHABLE markers, washi tape and matchbox cars, loads of snacks, plain paper and coloring sheets, and wipes. Also, books on tape are magical. The library overdrive app had loads to download. My kids especially love Peter and the Wolf where each character is an instrument. I also love Roger Priddy and Usborne sticker books. For planes you’d have the try but for a car trip you might want a lap desk( that works with a car seat) or clipboard.

    • Em says...

      Yes, this! My sister, mom, and I traded off reading chapters of “Eligible” out loud to each other on a just-us road trip across half the country last summer. It was a hoot and made the miles pass almost too fast! Some of my girlfriends and my sis and I are going on a road trip this year, and we’re taking “Eligible” along again for the ride.

  116. I recently saw Dear Evan Hansen and CANNOT say enough about it. Without being trite…it’s life changing, splitting your little heart right open in the best possible way. It’s amazing.

  117. I stumbled across this book “Broken for You” by Stephanie Kallos in my local library several years ago and it has become one of my all time fave reads. I suggest it to EVERYBODY :), a wonderful book, and even though the title sounds depressing it is absolutely not that.

    Love Walked In is another great book that completely turns what one might expect from the title upside down in a good way!

    Also love the Maisie Dobbs series. by Jacqueline Winspear The first one is a YA read and they progress from that point. I think there are about 12 in the series so far!
    I agree about Allbirds, sooo comfortable, not too sexy, but who cares they are like walking on air. I would love if they start making more interesting patterns, like the radishes and seaweed prints from LEWis home’s Liz whom you showcased.

  118. Lisa says...

    I like Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent – we live in a wooded area and it really works! We also spray our yard with garlic spray and are able to hang outside in the evening hours without getting eaten alive (and your yard smells delicious while it dries!): http://www.mosquitobarrier.com/

  119. Emma says...

    I have a few answers!
    Q. Now that summer is coming, there a natural bug spray that actually works?
    Take vitamin B complex– somehow makes you less tasty to mosquitoes!

    Q. What shoes fit wide feet? Even Converse aren’t comfy for me.
    I swear by the payless dexflex line- it is insanely comfortable and they have some cute styles (and every season they have a few trendy patterned flats). And MANY wide options.

    • Emma says...

      And then a book recommendation: The particular sadness of lemon cake– a surreal fantasy rendering of ways that particularly sensitive people cope (or don’t cope) with life.

  120. I’m dying to read Mindy Kaling’s book. Some books i’ve ordered recently are: Women, Race, & Class by Angela Davis and The 4-Hour Work Week

  121. Natalie Sheridan says...

    I was pregnant last year during the Zika outbreak and have always been a mosquito magnet, so I was a little nutty with protecting myself. I started wearing lemon eucalyptus oil and didn’t get one bite the entire bug season! I live in Atlanta so it can get pretty bad in the spring and summer. It smells great too. Repel makes a good spray or you can just dab a few drops of essential oil on your wrists, ankles, etc. I’ll never use anything else.

    Also, I plan to read Lincoln in the Bardo at the beach. I think you recommended it!

    • Caitlyn says...

      I chose Lincoln in the Bardo for my book club to read this month, and I am loving it!

    • Jen says...

      I’m 15 weeks pregnant and living on the Gulf Coast, so I’m in the midst of the Zika paranoia now! Just a heads-up that lemon eucalyptus oil is a bit more controversial than Deet or Picaridin for use in pregnancy. The CDC says not to use it on young children, so some (EWG included) advise against it during pregnancy. For any other preggos out there, it’s worth checking with your doctor before using it regularly!

  122. Crosby says...

    As an ultra light, long distance hiker (I’ve done the 2100mi Appalachian Trail, etc.) I refuse to mess around with bug spray that doesn’t work. The only bug repellent I ever carry is baby oil with lemongrass essential oil mixed in. Totally natural, smells great, works like a charm.

    • Lidia says...

      That’s great to know! What’s the ratio mix of lemongrass oil to baby oil?

    • Laura C. says...

      Next month I’m going to Italy to meet my in-laws, and there are lots of mosquitos there. My eldest daughter is six and last year I thought she was having chicken pox due to the big quantity of mosquito bites she had. Poor thing. She is really a magnet to them. My little one instead never got bitten.
      That thing of baby oil + lemongrass oil, will it work for mosquito repellent?

    • Crosby says...

      Laura C., It will totally work!
      Lidia, you will need to play around with ratios. I need a much stronger formula than most people (I guess my blood is sweet), just don’t use it undiluted because it can burn your skin like tea tree oil.

  123. dhannon says...

    Hey, what about narrow feet? I have thin narrow feet and shoe shopping is a nightmare. Most stores don’t stock many narrow brands, Nordstroms has good selection online but that involves ordering numerous styles/sizes etc and then returning. Any input from Cup of Jo readers? Thank you!

    • Sharon says...

      I also have narrow feet and Nordstrom online is my normal go to as well! I have also had luck with Clarks, but I always need shoes that have an adjustable strap of some sort. To pull in on the sides.
      And I should admit, living beachside in Florida, I spend most of my time in havanias flip flops – the most comfortable easy shoe imaginable.

    • I have the same problem! I really like Pons Avarcas and Salt Water for sandals. I have the most difficulty with boots and my favorite ankle boots ever are the Kork Ease Velma. For oxfords I’ve had really good luck with Bass. I have a pair of the All Birds mentioned above and I love love love them. I’m about to order my second pair.

  124. Irene says...

    Everyone should try and see Come From Away! It’s such a wonderful (TRUE!) story of the ability to pull together with open arms and generosity to support those in need.

  125. Emilie says...

    I just finished Girl Waits with Gun and really enjoyed it. It’s about three sisters living in early 20th century rural New Jersey who begin to be harassed by a nearby loose-cannon factory owner. They defend themselves with pluck and gumption, and the novel kicks off a female-driven detective series. I loved that it had suspense and intrigue without violence (that can be too much for me with the current news cycle), and that the protagonist was so self-sufficient.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “and that the protagonist was so self-sufficient” = love that.

  126. Meghan says...

    I went on a beach vacation in high school with my family and brought none other than The Bell Jar. Talk about depressing vacation reads. Sometimes it is nice to brood on a beach!

  127. dana says...

    Oh, I love this!! What a great idea.

    Here’s my question: Aside from wearing a thong, how do women avoid panty lines? No matter what I do, my behind always looks frumpy and lined. Big undies. Small undies. Different materials. Different pants. NOTHING helps!! Advice would be greatly appreciated. =)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great question!!!! going to start sleuthing… :)

    • Laura says...

      I use seamless underwear! It’s actually comfier than my regular ones because it’s not restricting at all without seams. I’ve bought other seamless ones that were horrible. Victorias Secret is definitely not my favorite to underwear/lingerie shop from, but that’s where I got my favorite seamless pair (it was with one of those free coupons). I forgot what specific collection it was from though.

    • Andrea says...

      I have wondered about this too! So curious how others pull it off :)

    • Jody says...

      Dana, I swear by these Calvin Klein hipsters for no panty lines: http://amzn.to/2p1qCWZ

      I wear them to yoga, gym workouts, under office clothes, you name it! I would say they run just slightly small, by their size chart I should be a small but I get a medium. I hope that helps :)

    • Melisa says...

      Check the Lululemon Namastay Put Hipster underwear!

    • Mollie says...

      Uniqlo ultra seamless collection – they are truly amazing, and absolutely NO panty lines.

    • Ali says...

      Commando is AMAZING. It’s expensive but they do last if you take good care of them. And they don’t show at all.

    • I’m interested in hearing peoples suggestions — especially if anyone knows how to prevent the BELLY panty line. I have a bit of a thicker middle and even higher-rise underwear cuts me right at the soft part, giving me a lumpy front. Anyone else?

    • I’m a broken record recommending the Pure Body panties from Gap but I’ve had really good luck remaining panty line free with the both the high waisted and shorties versions. Some pants can be super problematic- I’ve used jockey slip shorts in tighter fitting dress pants.

    • talia says...

      Soma vanishing edge – the perfect undie that shows no lines. Game changer for me!

    • Auste says...

      I second the Calvin Klein hipsters. They’re all I ever wear – with yoga pants and skinny jeans and dresses. They’re so comfy and show no lines!

    • Brooke says...

      Target also has some cheap seamless ones right now in their Gilligan & O’Malley brand. Seamless is all I wear (or none at all!)!

    • Emma says...

      When the outfit allows for it, i wear men’s boxer briefs over my underwear. Prevents both the dreaded chub rub and smooths out panty lines, both top and bottom.

    • Sasha says...

      Have you tried none? I stopped wearing underwear 21 years ago (I remember because I was pregnant with my daughter), & couldn’t wear them now if you paid me.

      It was *very* exciting for my husband for a little while ;) Just a tiny thrill that I knew I was commando…But he got used to it.

      You could use all the money you save to buy books (or better yet, take a vacation!!).

    • hahaha I love this question. I myself have great luck with Aerie’s cheekies! They are really pretty, offer more coverage than thongs, and have no panty lines (in my experience). Also, 7 for $27.50! I discovered them years ago when Jo did a post on underwear and a reader mentioned she preferring them. I ordered them and have never looked back!

    • morgan says...

      thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! nursing friendly pretty clothes are so hard to find!

  128. Ashley says...

    I actually had to return my Allbirds. They looked flimsier than I expected, it seemed like they would begin to pill quickly, and they gave me a blister within a few hours! Bummer, because I loved the concept and wanted to love them so much. So, no, I can’t say I recommend them as well.

  129. “Marlena” by Julie Buntin and “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid are both quick reads for summer, but great ones!

    xo, Sofia

  130. I love reading funny books on vacation! I’ve really enjoyed Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling on my last couple vacations, or something that’s a little more light-hearted in the fiction department. Not that I haven’t wandered into more dark selections on the beach — I read Gone Girl while away — but I try do — and read — as many enjoyable things as possible on those precious days away from the real world.

  131. Julie says...

    A few of my favorite vacation reads:

    Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple-funny and light book about a girl searching for her mother written through emails, letters, and other creative means.

    Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher-an actress goes to rehab and navigates through her career and love life.

    Before the Fall by Noah Hawley-a small plane crashes killing everyone on board but two, the book is written in the perspective of the victims and survivors.

    Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff-just the most beautiful book about an imperfect marriage that I have a ever read.

    Life Drawing by Karen Black-ditto.

    If you’d like a fun series, you can’t go wrong with the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I read 6 of them on my honeymoon :)

    • Jamie Thiel says...

      I’m so glad to see Where’d You Go, Bernadette? here. I’m not usually one to read comedy and this truly was for me. I found myself laughing out loud through the entire saga. There is a special air to the Microsoftie Crowd and surrounding town and Maria Semple captures it. Funny, fast, great read.

    • cooper says...

      I picked up a paperback of “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” at an airport and read the entire book on the plane. Best flight ever :)

    • Caitlin says...

      I recently read The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff and thought it was so so good. It was almost like a compilation of short stories with a large overarching story tying it all together.

  132. jaclyn says...

    OMGGGGG. I read The Year of Magical Thinking while on my Vegas solo birthday trip. ME- white wine, sun hat, crop top, tears streaming down my cheeks from behind my sunglasses while I soaked up the sun by the pool. Alone. It was amazing. I highly recommend The Help for reading or listening. It’s NOT the kind of book I would normally read but I breezed through it and loved every word of it.

    • Em says...

      I LOVED The Year of Magical Thinking. I know it has mixed reviews and her writing style isn’t for everyone but wow, I just found it so beautiful and striking. (I’m glad I wasn’t reading it at a Vegas pool though!)

  133. Tracey Baird says...

    Book: Larchfield by Polly Clark – not sure if out in US yet though? Lovely book about loneliness, new motherhood, poetry, fitting in and madness….. I know – it sounds a strange combination but just try it!

    • Brianna says...

      It’s only available used on Amazon and Barnes and Noble thinks I can’t spell when I search for it. :(

  134. I just read Lila Bowen’s fantastic, fast-paced, fiercely fun book Wake of Vultures on vacation in Hawaii and loved it.

  135. Just when I think Motherhood Around the World or a Week of Outfits is far and away my favorite thing on your blog, you go and do this. I think ANTON IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND is a hilarious inside joke. Thanks for sharing all that you do. You and your family are #goals. <3

  136. j says...

    as a wide footed person, the friendliest brands for me have been birkenstocks, blundstone, korkease, merrell, and was recently excited to find out that bryr clogs will fit too!

  137. Katie says...

    I love how many book nerds read Cup of Jo! Every time I need to find new books, I find one of your posts where you just mention a book, and find literally hundreds of book suggestions, most of which are right up my alley. :)

    BTW I just read Before the Fall by Noah Hawley and really enjoyed it! Equal parts character piece(s) and suspense. It centers around a plane crash, but it’s not terribly dark or eerie. I couldn’t put it down.

    • Caro says...

      Just added this to my Amazon cart! Thanks!

  138. I’m an author and everybody thinks my last book ONE MORE DAY is the ultimate beach read :) (not posting cover or link, because that would be uncool, and i am cool)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, kelly!!! and i’ll post the link;) it looks terrifying (in the best way)! http://amzn.to/2onlLuR

  139. Love a good book! Currently reading Tim Tebow’s “Shaken.” So amazing!

    xx, Hannah

  140. meghan says...

    honest bug spray is effective and smells great. on special at costco right now! ;)

    • Caro says...

      Now I want to go to Costco and get some