Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Traveling Light” as Want to Read:
Traveling Light
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Traveling Light

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  209 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Paula Makaikis is ashamed of her marriage. Driven out of their bedroom by Roger's compulsive hoarding, she has spent the past ten years sleeping downstairs on her husband's ratty couch. Distant and uninspired, Paula is more concerned with the robins landing on her office window ledge than her hard-earned position at the university.

Until a phone call changes everything.

A ho
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Forge Books (first published July 16th 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Traveling Light, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Traveling Light

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 05, 2013 Zoeytron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I do not play fast and loose with my 5-star ratings, but Traveling Light is a winner, hands down. Stunning writing, absorbing story, it made me feel something.

Paula's 10 year marriage has evolved into a pile of junk, in the most literal sense. Her husband, Roger, is a hoarder. He has systematically grown his stacks of periodicals, newspapers and whatnot to the point where there is no longer any room for a wife in his life - not even in his bed. To add insult to injury, Paula has become increasi
Emily Medakovich
Wow! This book truly blew me away! The writing was absolutely phenomenal. I could truly feel all of Paula's emotions from her sadness and loneliness trying to convince her friends, husband, and herself that she was in a happy marriage to the freedom she received from taking a break from her life in New York, traveling to Minnesota and working at a wildlife rehabilitation center. There are several moments that keep you on the edge of your seat where you are pulling for a good outcome for all peop ...more
Catherine Hasson
A lovely, moving story that left me wanting more. This book is a true gift. This is a smart and involved story about unrequited love within a marriage and life change and a dog and animal rescue. And life secrets. What a wonderful book.
Oct 16, 2013 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc-edition, animals
The storyline is pretty straightforward: a woman gets a homeless dog she doesn't want, leaves her hoarder husband, ends up working at a raptor/wildlife rehabilitation center. Sounds like a great basis for a story, lots of potential.

Lots of potential it didn't fulfill, sadly. Initially, the writing failed to draw me in, too much explaining and telling, and didn't bring out either sympathy or empathy from me. There were too many metaphors for my taste.

I absolutely agree that puppy mills are horrid
May 19, 2014 Janice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would give this 6 stars if I could, I really loved this book. This is a story of a woman who has reached a point of no return; her marriage and her career are both floundering, and she takes actions that seem at first totally irrational, but turn out to be the best intuitive decisions of her life. She begins a journey, and along the way she learns to love a dog, an eagle, an owl, and other assorted animals and humans. This is beautifully written, with characters that are complex and interestin ...more
Sylvia Walker
This is a lovely book! The characters are very real. The topics, mental illness, hoarding, animal rescue and rehabbing, loneliness and friendship, are all really interesting to me. I cared about the main character, and what happened to her, and the others as well. The descriptions were beautifully written. I wanted to be there and see those things, too. Highly recommended.
Aug 22, 2013 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! The characters are rich and well developed. Excellent portrayal of what it's like to live with someone with a mental illness. I loved the role animals played in the main character's development. Excellent book! I didn't want it to end. Read it. :)
Apr 18, 2015 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely story with great character development. A woman whose husband is a hoarder tries to make a life for herself. Interesting subplots about descendants of immigrants, the role of women, and the magical wonder of owning a dog.
Oct 29, 2016 Michaela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could say it is about finding yourself but that isn't quite right. Or maybe about uncovering your true self but that isn't quite right either. More like searching for the fate line that is true to yourself. Love stories set in this part of the country and love the protagonist's Greek background as well for the memories it brought back to me. Author appears wiser than the age of her jacket photo.
Viviane Crystal
Oct 06, 2013 Viviane Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paula Makaikis is a smart woman who has earned a Ph.D. and is now working at the Center for Immigrant Studies at NYU. She doesn’t really fit in with her colleagues who view her as in charge and yet odd. It’s fall and she’s feeling uneasy, restless, unable to concentrate on her work, and in obvious need of something she just can’t grasp. She’s also married to a brilliant astrophysicist who just happens to be a messy hoarder. So deep is his problem that Paula sleeps on a ratty couch at night becau ...more
Aug 23, 2013 Kendra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, first-reads

I won Traveling Light and was a little terrified, mostly because I am also a conscientious Goodreads citizen, and I make a solid effort to read and review every ARC I win. A book's reputation--and a new author's, too--are somewhat dependent on reviews like mine (scary thought, I know).

I will not take this review in the direction that so many reviewers do ("This book was so much better than I thought it would be! A+! Five stars! You might think you'll hate this book, but you'll love it too!").
Nov 10, 2013 Kristi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paula liked so many things about her husband Roger - but her marriage is crumbling. The biggest reason is simple - Roger is a hoarder and their home is a nightmarish jumble of papers, furniture and mess that both shames her and yet cradles her each night when she comes home. Roger banished her from their bedroom in the first weeks of marriage saying he couldn't sleep because of her breathing beside him, and yet she's trying to live through that too, sleeping on the couch one floor below him. Her ...more
Jul 23, 2013 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this e-ARC courtesy of Edelweiss.

Baggage. We all have it. Some more than others. Stuff that we just can't get rid of.

Paula is in a crazy marriage and a crazy job.

One day, she gets a phone call asking her to come to the hospital to get some information from a homeless man who seems to speak only Greek. During the conversation, she agrees to take care of his dog. After the dog is cleaned up, Paula decides to take a leave of absence from her job at NYU, buys a Ford Escape, and takes off for
Aug 11, 2013 Kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 06, 2014 Serena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun, light, late-summer read. I really enjoyed journeying alongside Paula as she discovered the joy of living with a dog and the awe in holding an eagle. And the story line was engaging, if not a tad cliche on its most basic level.

It could use a good edit, namely for believability. For example, that "something" that compels Paula to call the wildlife rehabilitation center is never explained to any extent. Maybe she doesn't know why she called, but I'm sure she at least felt something.
Jul 24, 2013 Jael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've watched dozens of episodes of Hoarders, and with each one I wondered how people got to that point. How can a person be so attached to stuff? So much so that it can destroy their family? Of course, I'm one to talk I own more than 500 books!! But I don't need an organizer or 1-800-GOT-JUNK trunk to sort it. I promise. The reason I'm saying this is because I recently finished Traveling Light by Andrea Thalasinos. Hoarding plays a central role in the book, and that was a huge selling point for ...more
Michael Martin
Jan 01, 2014 Michael Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Andrea Thalasino's Traveling Light is a wonderful book about the powers of reinventing yourself and the importance of following your bliss. It follows the story of Paula Makaikis, college academic caught in a loveless marriage with a compulsive hoarder, who finds herself through an odd twist of fate adopting a dying man's dog. The second half of the book deals with Paula taking an eight-week leave of absence from her flat and unrewarding academic career, ending up at a wildlife rehabilitation ce ...more
Aug 06, 2013 Judith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely light weight chick-lit,but if you are facing a longish airplane trip, this is the book for you. I started reading it in Tampa and didn't put it down till I arrived in Orange County (CA). When you are on a plane, you don't want to be slogging through "The Brothers Karamazov".

Paula Makaikis is on her third loser of a marriage. She lives in a brownstone with her husband, the hoarder who forces her to sleep on an old couch in the living room because her breathing disturbs him. Sh
Cj W
.... Nifty Good!

I won this book here on in the Goodreads 'First Reads' giveaway, and I opened it up not expecting too much from it .... .


It was REALLY good. Ya'll can read the book description for yourself to find out what its about.

I love how Paula, the main character, allows herself to be taken away by a split second decision, and how that split second decision veered her off course from her painful and seemingly meaningless life, into a path full of 'Fotis'... Light.

It's a fantastic
Jun 03, 2014 Katrina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Read An Echo Through Snow instead
Shelves: adult, fiction
I liked Thalasinos' An Echo Through Snow so I had high hopes for this book. And, I did think the parts about Paula and her hording husband were interesting-the dynamic of living in a relationship like that. But I found most of the book to be too syrupy sweet and too tidy. Paula has no idea where she's going, stops for a bit to eat and on a whim applies to be a wildlife rehabilitation after having spent her entire adult life behind a desk--and she gets hired!!! Yeah, right. Oh, and did I forget t ...more
Oct 23, 2013 Tonya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
Wow I loved this book. Paula's marriage is non-existent. Her husband is a hoarder and so she has been sleeping downstairs. When she meets a dying man and agrees to get a home for his dog, Fotis, she is found with freedom and a new friend. On the road, she ends up taking risks and doing things she never would.

What she finds and how she heals, will bring you to your knees, saying this is why I read. If you are anything like myself anyway! I thought this book was thought provoking and I couldn't i
Jul 24, 2013 Lorrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cyd Bennett
This was a free, GR giveaway book that I won through the GR site.

I thoroughly loved this book. The book hits so many raw nerves, feelings, issues, and emotions that I was just astounded as I read it. I could relate to the main character's issues, need for education, failed marriages, and travels.

The mother/daughter bond was intriguing and even more so as it began to become clear in the light of day. It was also interesting to learn of the father/daughter relationship.

The dogs, the wild birds, W
This one really got under my skin the more I read. In some ways it is straightforward women's fiction, but so many elements in it were unique: the Greek heritage of the main character, the not often portrayed in fiction marital problem of hoarding, and the northern Minnesota setting in the real town of Grand Marais. An unhappy woman starting a new life is common in fiction. Doing so at a wildlife rescue center as she learns how to rehabilitate a golden eagle is a different take on the genre. Bea ...more
May 01, 2016 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I looked forward to reading it and, for me, I didn't want to see the book come to a finish. I thought the author did a great job. Okay, there were a few little things that I would have wanted to see treated differently, but I am not going to complain. The main character, Paula, teaches us that life can change on a dime, one thing leading to another and then, suddenly your entire life is topsy turvy. Sometimes we have tremendous choices to make. I liked how the aut ...more
Amber Polo
Apr 10, 2016 Amber Polo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs
Andrea Thalasinos again magically captures settings with grace and sensitivity. From New York City streets to the shores of Lake Superior, each detail convinces the reader this author has stood and absorbed the essence of each place. Because of a dog who needs her, Paula leaves her academic career and suffocating life in her hoarder husband's house and follows her love of birds.

With her and her wonderful character Paula Makaikis you hold an eagle in a wild animal refuge, battle a puppy mill fir
Sep 29, 2013 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think if the author had written about hoarders, compulsion, and mental illness, I would have liked this more.

Or, if she had written about raptor recovery, eagles, even other animal rights issues, that would have been okay.

But to try to cover all kinds of political territory when it comes to puppy mills, raptor recovery, mental illness fair labor, the immigrant experience, and still have a story? Not so much.

Also, it didn't help me to have random Greek words and phrases thrown in without def
Mar 25, 2015 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: here-be-dogs
Paula, ground down by 10 years of a soul-destroying marriage to a hoarder, is called to the bedside of a dying man. Hours later, she finds herself in possession of the dead man's dog. This rather simple thing changes everything in her life.

I liked Paula, her mother Eleni, Fotis the dog, and all the people in Grand Marais, the Minnesota community where Paula takes an unexpected temporary job caring for injured raptors.

Not a romance, but a wonderful story about a no-longer-young woman who finally
Oct 07, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am such a sucker for books with animals, especially dogs. I think without Fotus, I may have given a rating of three stars. The story goes develops in a way that does not mirror reality, which bothers me a bit. However, it is in pursuit of making a point that the author goes this direction, so I can overlook it for the most part. It's a touching read and inspires one to fly out of the nests we create in this life to explore the big, wide world that exists without.
Feb 10, 2014 Annthelibrarian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, animals
Paula Makaikis is not content with her life, but puts up with her husband’s hoarding and distant behavior. Then one day, she’s called on to take in a dying man’s dog. Realizing she has to have a break from her marriage and get out of New York City, she buys an SUV and decides to take a road trip with the dog, Fotis (Fotis is Greek for “light”).
The road trip leads her on a path she had not imagined.
Great book; loved it!
Dawn Brown
I thought at first that the book was slow to start, but by the end of the first chapter, I had to finish and find out how "Paula" handled things. The book made me laugh, cry, and feel. It is a book that is very believable, in today's world.
The conversations between the characters are just the same as two people holding a conversation. The flow of the words are easy to hear, as if you were talking to a friend or family member.

Great Book!! I recommend it!!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Jackson's Pond, Texas
  • The Red Kimono: A Novel
  • Childless
  • Spanish Lavender
  • Surface Rights
  • Undressing Mr. Darcy
  • Ruby's Secret (Newport Ladies Book Club)
  • The Trial of Dr. Kate
  • Dark Days: The Long Road Home
  • The Last First Day
  • The Travel Auction
  • Dying for Sex
  • Disposition of Remains
  • Mimi Malloy, At Last!
  • The Awful Mess
  • The Spirit Room
  • Fathom Lines
  • All the Dancing Birds

Share This Book

“You can never miss your fate," Eleni would always say. "Even if it feels like it, it only means that your fate isn't what you thought.” 1 likes
More quotes…