7/7 the all-important airplane book

by KJ in #AmReading

Picking a book for a flight is just different

Airport bookstores are different for a reason. When you’re getting on a flight, you need a book that’s pretty much a lock—one that’s going to have you turning pages, oblivious to your surroundings and the slow passing of time and even your neighbor’s back-of-seat screen showing the latest Marvel movie.

What kind of book that is differs. Some of us want to be caught up in Malcolm Gladwell-esque non-fiction full of anecdotes and intriguing possibilities, others want the swoop of a dramatic story, others a puzzle or a banter-filled romp. If you’re in that airport bookstore, the limited selection is going to be one or two books within each genre with the broadest appeal—and if you like that genre and haven’t read one of them, you could probably do worse.

But you’re a reader, which means you put serious time into choosing a book for a flight (and you probably bring a back-up, or at least a well-stocked e-reading app, just in case, and you never, ever depend on in-flight wifi for downloads).

I start looking for my travel book weeks before a long flight—but there are complications! New books that I’m excited about are often hardbacks, and that won’t do. I want paper, but I don’t want to do bicep curls every time I pick up my bag (and I usually want to leave the book behind once I’ve read it). So the newest book by an old favorite may not make the cut.

My trick: older books by authors I know I like, but whose catalog runs deep. Kristan Higgins, Carl Hiaasen, Anthony Horowitz, Susan Mallery, Beverly Jenkins, Jennifer Weiner. Any new-to-you author can work for this—if you’ve just read your first Taylor Jenkins Reid, Liane Moriarty, or Lisa See, there’s more in store. Or if you’re a late-comer to a popular series, you’re all set.

Plane rides are a good time to revisit a genre you once loved, but have been reading less of late—fantasy, mystery. You’ve missed some big releases but they’re out in paperback now! Similarly, it’s a perfect time to hit big blockbuster titles you were too young for, or not interested in at the time. I missed both The Da Vinci Code and Gone Girl and I’d be willing to bet on either of them for a long plane ride. I’ve never read Twilight! If it’s an “old” book in your mind but there are still copies on the bookstore shelves (I’m thinking Where’d You Go, BernadetteA Year in ProvenceThe Devil Wears PradaConfessions of a ShopaholicThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) you’ve found airplane perfection.

I have a long flight coming up, and I’ll be taking Evie Dunmore’s A Rogue of One’s Own (second in a series; I just read Bringing Down the Duke). With any luck, I won’t look up until we land.

PS: My books make good plane reads!

The Chicken Sisters and In Her Boots are out now—possibly great examples of books you missed at the time. And treat yourself to a read that will get you through a fall flight (Thanksgiving, maybe?) in the form of Playing the Witch Card! (Pre-ordering is the nicest thing you can do for me. Target and Barnes and Noble are watching those numbers and making their stocking decisions….)


Hey! You have this. You’re probably on the list but if not, you want to be! Good books and book chat pretty much weekly.

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