A few observations on books and reading after spending a week at the beach:

1. The number one book spotted on the beach/in airports/and everywhere else I looked: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. If you need further evidence that this book has crossed from bestseller into phenomenon territory, take a trip.

2. If you're reading on a Kindle, you have to turn it off during airplane takeoff and landing—a total pain, especially if you've reached an exciting part of the book. If you're reading a good, old-fashioned paper-and-ink version, you can keep reading your book while the Kindle reader next to you squirms anxiously and awaits the announcement that personal electronic devices can be turned on.

3. If your plane hits extreme turbulence over the Atlantic, you won't want to read either your Kindle or your old-fashioned book. You'll want to clutch the armrests with both hands and moan as quietly as possible.

4. Though it's widely reported that women read more than men, this doesn't hold true among travelers. In airports and on the beach, men are just as likely as women to be staring at a book (though the man is more likely to be sound asleep and pretending to read the book).

5. Having a book in your hand is a great conversation starter among strangers.

6. Sand can be used effectively as a bookmark.

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