Let’s talk about your favorite airplane reads.

Let’s talk about your favorite airplane reads.

Let's talk about your favorite airplane reads. I flew to the Festival of Faith and Writing last week, and choosing great books for the plane was a high priority. I’m a nervous flyer (shocking, I know) and so I like to read fast-moving, plot-driven books on the plane. (Guilty pleasure books are also high on my list.) I love gorgeous, lyrical literary fiction, but not at 30,000 feet.

It’s also about time to make the final selections for this year’s summer reading guide, so my reading list is long–good timing for air travel.

For this trip, I loaded up my Kindle Fire with:

The Language of Flowers

Honeymoon in Paris (a prequel of sorts to The Girl You Left Behind)

Eve in Hollywood (a sequel of sorts to Rules of Civility)

For backup, I bumped these ebooks to the top of my queue:

Wives and Daughters (because I loved the movie)

Eat with Joy (because the author was speaking at FFW, and I bought it ages ago)

And in case I had to turn off my electronic devices during takeoff and landing (horrors!), I packed Snobs by Julian Fellowes in hardcover.

Tomorrow is twitterature, but on Wednesday I’ll tell you something Anne Lamott (who was amazing) said about the families we grow up in. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (Is there anything else you want to know about FFW?)

What do you consider good airplane reading? If you knew you’d be stuck on a plane for a few hours and could bring any book(s) you wanted–regardless of cost–what would you choose?

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34 comments

  1. I’m with you on being a nervous flier too! Because of that I have to stick with books that make me feel really good and encourage me, so I usually pick a few easy to read book on some sort of Christian growth and development (Beth Moore and Elizabeth Elliot are always my favorites). The last time I was on a plan I read the children’s book Friendle because I was about to start a new literature study on it with my students the following week and I hadn’t even read it yet! 🙂

    • Dorothy K. says:

      I really love Elisabeth Elliot, too. I hope you don’t mind a recommendation, although it is not really part of this post. I have found Elyse Fitzpatrick’s books lately to be on par with E. Elliot, so you might look her up on Amazon and see if anything sounds interesting.

  2. Jeannie says:

    Hi Anne – can’t wait to hear your thoughts from the other Anne (Lamott, not Shirley). But in the meantime I’m wondering (and this may not be a question you can answer instantly), did you benefit from the conference mostly as a writer or as a reader? When I was there in 2010 I definitely went as a reader eager to hear from some of my favourite authors: Wally Lamb, Avi, Kate DiCamillo, Parker Palmer. Now I think if I went again I’d bring more of the Writer Me.

  3. Anne says:

    I’d like to hear what the conference is all about (had not heard of it, will google), how you choose which to go to, and anything you took away from it. How cool to hear Anne Lamott. I think the last book I read on a plane was Girl, Interrupted. Maybe not the most uplifting title…. 🙂

  4. Kailey says:

    Okay, this totally depends on who I’m traveling with and how long the flight is. If I’m traveling with friends, I try to pick a book that’s easy to stop and start so I can take breaks and socialize and I’m not mad at someone who interrupts my reading to show me a magazine article. For that, I usually pick a nonfiction or a book I’ve read before but not in a while. If I’m traveling alone I’m fine reading an intense page turner and tuning everyone else out. If it’s a long ride to a location I’ve never been before, I pick something familiar, like Anne of Green Gables or a Betsy-Tacy book or one of the Mitford books, so it still feels like home. If it’s a short, normal flight, I’ll bring a nonfiction to learn from. If all else fails, I’ll just flip through all the old books in my Kindle and see what tickles my fancy. 😉

  5. Ashley says:

    I’m all about noise cancelling headphones when I fly. Typically I listen to classical music, it makes the drudgery of flying more humane somehow. Thus I am usually reading something by Austen or Dickens or at the very least something by a European author or historical fiction. It’s just my thing when I fly.

  6. Jennifer says:

    When I travel, I usually just load up my kindle with as many of the free books as sound good to me, as well as one “pay for” book I’ve been wanting to read (typically part of a series – one of my guilty pleasures, like the Reacher books, JD Robb books). Although right now I am reading my way through the Anne (Shirley) books (just started “of the Island”!) and I am happy to just keep going with that, even if I would have to travel.

  7. Amy says:

    I know you mentioned before that you’ve never read Sophie Kinsella, but want to – any of her books would be great to read on a plane. They’re lighthearted, and easy to read, but hard to put down. My favorite is The Undomestic Goddess.

  8. Jessica says:

    I recently read The Book Thief on a flight (and during a SERIOUSLY long delay). It was a good read, totally kept my attention, but did make me cry (which is a bit embarrassingly when you’re flying solo). So I guess I love to pick something extremely readable but not too sad. I have the Anne of Green Gables series on my Kindle and read a bit of it as well.

  9. Erin says:

    I have to say that I took Snobs by Julian Fellowes on vacation a few years ago and had a hard time reading it on the plane. I recommend that you start it a day or two before (so easy, right) so that you are into the plot. It was good, but a bit slow in the beginning.

  10. kelli says:

    On trips I like to read books by Lee Child – light, formulaic plots, and easy to read. Lee Child’s books have nothing redemptive about them… and I hesitate to admit to them. But hey, whatever it takes to get through an hours-long flight!!

  11. Dorothy K. says:

    I love to fly and the longest flight I have ever taken was 13 hours from Sydney, Australia to L.A. – Whew, was I ready to disembark after that one?! Anyway, when I fly, I love, love, love to read magazines so that if I become bored, I have a wide variety of things to keep me occupied. So, I’ll stop at the news stand and purchase a few gossip or fashion magazines that I otherwise would never spend my $$ on. I also have a Kindle, so that goes wherever I go and has many, many unfinished books on it, especially historical fiction as well as biographies. Such an interesting question and post today!!

  12. I love to read fast-paced books on airplane rides too – mysteries and YA are high on my list, or truly absorbing historical fiction. (I read The Invention of Wings on a plane ride over Christmas.) And a good “fluffy” chick lit book is always a great back-up. What a fun post and question!

  13. Always Madeline L’Engle poetry (the last two flights, I’ve read and re-read The Weather of the Heart). I don’t know why–maybe because I never read poetry in my day-to-day?

    I don’t usually stock my Kindle before, but I want to be intentional to next time!

  14. As a college junior many moons ago, I was traveling solo from San Francisco to Paris for a college semester abroad. I was excited and terrified — it was by far the longest plane ride I’d ever taken and I was was alone.

    Luckily, I had the Kingsley Amis novel “Lucky Jim” with me. I laughed and laughed. It was the perfect choice to calm my fear.

    Nowadays, I’m always traveling with two small boys, so my airplane reads have to be engaging but able to withstand constant interruptions. Rosamund Pilcher works well, I find.

    • Anne says:

      I’ve checked Lucky Jim out of the library before, but haven’t actually read it–yet. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂 (And so glad it was the right book at the right time for you!)

  15. I don’t fly often (not the past couple of years, anyway), but for some reason Harry Potter is my go-to reading on airplanes! I usually read a lot of non-fiction, but once (on a whim) I purchased a Harry Potter in an airport bookstore before a flight. Now pulling out a Harry Potter feels like the thing to do when I board an airplane! It probably seems lowbrow if I have any readers seated around me, but it is such a nice relaxing break! 🙂

    • Anne says:

      That sounds like a lovely tradition. 🙂 (My son is reading the first Harry Potter book for the first time, which makes me want to plunge into the series again. It would be my third time through.)

  16. Jessica says:

    I take the opposite approach — I often bring something drier and harder to focus on that I’ve been wanting to get through because I know I will buckle down and read a few solid hours when I don’t have anything else (like the Internet) to distract me.

    • Anne says:

      That’s so smart, Jessica. On the plane you can’t get distracted by twitter, or get up to get a snack, or wonder if the mail’s come yet.

  17. amanda june says:

    Liane Moriarty books are my somewhat-guilty pleasure books. I find them to be such page-turners! I’ll probably download one for my next trip (I have an 8-hour train ride coming up soon) — I’ve seen you recommend “What Alice Forgot” a lot and haven’t read it yet, so maybe now’s the time! Though I’m not a nervous flyer, reading something purely fun and engaging is a nice treat for long days of travel 🙂

  18. Leigh Kramer says:

    I love The Language of Flowers! I’m intrigued by Eve in Hollywood. Rules of Civility was such an interesting read.

    I usually bring at least a few books, depending on how long the plane/layover time is and whether I’ll have time to read once I’m at my destination. Because I read so quickly, if I bring too many page-turners, I’ll run out of reading material. I like to bring at least one super thick book and mix up the genres. I’ve also found the plane can be a great time to read books I’ve been wanting to read but have put off for one reason or another. That’s how I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma- I was completely enthralled by it while flying to Austin a couple of years ago and it took limiting my options to realize it. Even though I’d meant to read it for ages!

    • Anne says:

      That’s why I love my Kindle for travel! Or at least for air travel–when we drive to the beach we pack a giant milk crate (or two) of books, but that’s for all six of us (even if half of them are mine).

      I planned ahead for this trip, but if I hadn’t then I might have gotten to my Kindle backlog. I’m glad you got “stuck” with The Omnivore’s Dilemma–that’s such a good one. 🙂

  19. Anna says:

    I tend to get severe motion sickness when I travel, which is unfortunate since I do quite a bit. That means I can’t really read or watch movies. I’ve found audiobooks & music to be best for me on planes. I need to have audiobooks that I’ve already read or listened to, as my concentration comes and goes. Things I like for times like that are murder mysteries like the Hannah Swenson series by Joanna Fluke or the Lady Julia mysteries by Deanna Raybourne.

  20. I tend to read magazines on a plane because I have a hard time concentrating with all the noise and people. I prefer to chat with strangers – weird, I know, but I love to hear people’s stories. I can’t remember the last time I flew without children, either, and you know there will be no reading with a child around ….

    The last book I really remember reading on a plane was Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love, which is not appropriate for an airplane because it made me laugh out loud. And that’s kind of awkward.

  21. Molly says:

    I’ve never really thought about this. I don’t fly that often. In the past when I’ve had a flight I’ve tried to bring a book I wouldn’t mind leaving behind, usually a paperback I didn’t plan on keeping. Now that I have a Kindle I just make sure I have a few books loaded that I have been wanting to get to.

  22. Allison says:

    Sshhh…don’t tell anyone. I pick up a Star magazine – read the gossipy stuff and then get lost in their huge crossword – it distracts me from my anxiety.

  23. Kelli says:

    I get so concerned when I know my reading material will be limited! When I go away for a few days, I always bring at least 20 books with me (new & already read familiar) so that I’ll have access to whatever I might be in the mood for. I don’t have a Kindle, but I’ve started downloading books onto my ipad. And now that I’ve discovered bookbub.com and see what I can download for free each day, I have an endless backlog of different genres to choose from! I think that’s the only way to go…. how terrible would it be to be in the air or on a trip and not have anything you want to read!

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