In this review, we will explore some of the best books to read on a plane, each capable of making the hours spent in the air a worthwhile experience.
Air travel, especially long-haul flights, offers the perfect opportunity to immerse in reading.
A good book can become a perfect companion while nestled comfortably — or oftentimes uncomfortably if you’re not in business class — in an airplane seat, thousands of miles above the ground.
Whether you’re a frequent flyer or an occasional traveler, reading on a plane offers an escape from the humdrum of confined spaces and lends a sense of serenity amidst the bustling travel environment.
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Best Books to Read on a Plane and Long Flights
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” is a monumental work by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez. This novel, published in 1967, is an exquisite representation of magical realism, where the ordinary and the extraordinary are intertwined seamlessly.
Set in the mythical town of Macondo, the story chronicles the Buendía family over seven generations. From the founding patriarch José Arcadio Buendía, who dreams of a city of mirrors, to the final generation facing a devastating prophecy, the reader is led through a century filled with love, despair, war, and solitude.
The narrative explores themes of love, power, fate, and time in a way that captures the cyclical nature of history. The characters struggle with their individual obsessions and idiosyncrasies, constantly battling between their desires and the inevitable forces of destiny. Márquez’s masterful storytelling blends the boundaries between reality and fantasy, creating a world where ghosts exist alongside the living and prophetic manuscripts determine an entire lineage’s fate.
The cultural and historical significance of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” cannot be overstated. It is often regarded as the most significant work in the Spanish literary canon since “Don Quixote.” The novel has had a profound influence on literature worldwide, popularizing the genre of magical realism and bringing Latin American literature to the forefront globally.
Now, why would “One Hundred Years of Solitude” be an excellent choice to read on a plane? Firstly, its grand, sprawling narrative is perfect for long flights. The book’s length and narrative style provide a captivating journey, allowing readers to lose themselves in the rich tapestry of the Buendía family saga.
The pace of the story is also ideal for air travel. The novel’s structure, weaving between past, present, and future, keeps the reader engaged without being overwhelming. It allows for breaks in reading, which is ideal for the intermittent nature of plane travel.
Moreover, Márquez’s vivid descriptions and lyrical prose make the reading experience immersive, absorbing readers completely into the world of Macondo. This makes “One Hundred Years of Solitude” an excellent distraction from the humdrum of long flights, transporting you to a different time and place.
In conclusion, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is more than just a novel; it is an epic journey through time, love, and solitude, making it an ideal companion for the traveler seeking to escape into a world of magical realism. Its compelling narrative, intricate themes, and absorbing storytelling make it a perfect book to read on a plane, ensuring that your journey is as enriching as your destination.
2. The Alchemist
“The Alchemist,” penned by the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, is a novel that has touched millions of readers worldwide with its profound simplicity and enchanting storytelling. Published in 1988, this allegorical novel follows the journey of a young Andalusian shepherd named Santiago, who dreams of finding a worldly treasure near the Egyptian pyramids.
The central theme of “The Alchemist” is self-discovery and pursuing one’s “Personal Legend,” or true purpose. The novel is a beautiful exploration of the human experience, delving into themes of destiny, spirituality, and the interconnectedness of all things in the universe.
Coelho’s writing style is simple yet profound. He uses straightforward language and uncomplicated sentence structures that belie the depth and complexity of the ideas he conveys. His characters are not intricately developed but serve as vessels through which he communicates his philosophical insights. The Alchemist, Melchizedek, and the Englishman are all guides who help Santiago understand the language of the world and the path to self-discovery.
I found “The Alchemist” deeply moving and inspirational. It is a book that encourages introspection and self-reflection, prompting readers to question their own goals and desires and how they align with their personal legends.
Why is “The Alchemist” an ideal read for long-haul flights? Firstly, its narrative simplicity allows for easy reading in potentially distracting environments such as a bustling airplane cabin. Secondly, the book’s central themes of following your dreams and discovering your purpose resonate with the essence of travel, making it particularly relevant for those embarking on their journeys.
The spiritual undertones of the book offer a sense of calm and tranquility that can ease the stress and fatigue associated with long-distance travel. It encourages readers to slow down, take a breath, and reflect on their inner selves amidst the chaos of travel.
“The Alchemist” is an exceptional novel combining philosophical depth and straightforward storytelling. This book encourages self-discovery and the pursuit of dreams, making it a perfect companion for the weary traveler. Its themes resonate with the essence of travel, offering a source of relaxation and inspiration on long-haul flights. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or embarking on your first journey, “The Alchemist” is a must-read that offers a transformative reading experience.
3. The 4-Hour Work Week
“The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss is more than just a book; it’s a lifestyle guide that challenges traditional work norms and offers readers a blueprint for living life on their own terms. Ferriss, an entrepreneur, public speaker, and angel investor, uses his personal experiences to craft a compelling narrative encouraging readers to break free from the 9-5 grind and live a life of freedom and fulfillment.
Ferriss’s writing style is engaging and conversational, making complex concepts accessible to a wide range of readers. He uses real-life examples and practical advice to illustrate his points, making the book relatable and actionable.
The book revolves around two central themes: working smarter, not harder, and creating a “muse” business. Ferriss introduces the concept of “lifestyle design,” arguing that we can live more fulfilling lives by rethinking our relationship with work. He emphasizes the importance of focusing on productivity rather than time spent on work and suggests that creating an automated income stream (a “muse”) can provide the financial freedom required to live this lifestyle.
For business travelers, “The 4-Hour Work Week” is an especially valuable read. Ferriss’s strategies for delegating tasks, managing time effectively, and maintaining productivity while moving are particularly relevant for those who frequently travel for work. His tips on remote work, automation, and virtual assistance are game-changers for managing work on long flights and during travel.
What sets “The 4-Hour Work Week” apart from other entrepreneurship and personal growth books is its practicality and broad applicability. Rather than offering abstract theories or one-size-fits-all advice, Ferriss provides tools and strategies that readers can adapt to fit their circumstances and goals.
From my perspective, this book is a must-read for business travelers. Not only does it offer practical strategies for managing work and improving productivity, but it also provides inspiration and motivation to rethink one’s approach to work and life. The book encourages readers to challenge their assumptions about what is possible and to strive for a lifestyle that offers freedom, fulfillment, and control over their time.
“The 4-Hour Work Week” is an exceptional guide for anyone looking to escape the traditional work model and live on their terms. It’s particularly relevant for business travelers, offering valuable insights and strategies for managing work while on the move. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting your journey, this book will inspire and motivate you to achieve your personal and professional goals.
4. The Japan Lights: On the Trail of the Scot Who Lit Up Japan’s Coast
“The Japan Lights: On the Trail of the Scot Who Lit Up Japan’s Coast” by Iain Maloney is a captivating exploration of an obscure but fascinating piece of history. Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Maloney now resides in Gifu, Japan, and his deep understanding and appreciation of both cultures shine through in this unique travel memoir.
Maloney’s writing is engaging and evocative, bringing to life the story of Richard Henry Brunton, a Scotsman who built many of Japan’s lighthouses. The narrative is a wonderful blend of history, culture, and personal travelogue, making it a compelling read from beginning to end.
The book stands out for its focus on a lesser-known aspect of Japan’s history. The story of the Scot who lit up Japan’s coast adds a unique perspective, shedding light on the influence of foreign individuals in shaping Japan’s modern infrastructure. This focus makes the book intriguing, particularly for those interested in Japan or historical travel narratives.
“The Japan Lights” is the perfect travel companion for those embarking on a flight to Japan. The book offers a deeper understanding of Japan’s history and culture, enriching the travel experience. Reading about the country’s past and the influence of a foreigner like Brunton can provide insights that enhance the appreciation of the sights and experiences.
Moreover, Maloney’s journeys to these lighthouses add a layer of contemporary reflection to the historical narrative. His observations and experiences offer a fresh perspective on Japan, its people, and its culture.
“The Japan Lights: On the Trail of the Scot Who Lit Up Japan’s Coast” is a beautifully written, insightful, and unique travel memoir. It offers a fascinating look at a lesser-known aspect of Japan’s history, making it an ideal read for those planning a trip to Japan or anyone interested in its culture and history.
I recommend picking up this book before your next journey to Japan, as it will undoubtedly enhance your travel experience.
5. Life of Pi
If you’re looking for a book that will captivate your imagination, challenge your perspective, and keep you turning pages long into the night, then “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel is the book for you. This Man Booker Prize-winning novel is an extraordinary blend of adventure, survival, and philosophical musing that will leave you pondering long after turning the last page.
The story revolves around Piscine Molitor Patel, or Pi, a young Indian boy deeply interested in spirituality. His journey from an inquisitive child to a resilient survivor stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker is nothing short of remarkable. The character development is masterfully done, with Pi’s transformation unfolding in a manner that is both believable and deeply moving.
What sets “Life of Pi” apart is Martel’s ability to weave a narrative filled with unexpected plot twists that blur the line between reality and illusion. Every chapter brings new surprises, keeping readers on their toes and making it an engaging read from start to finish.
When compared to other popular travel-related novels like “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert or “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, “Life of Pi” offers a unique perspective. While most travel novels explore physical landscapes and cultures, “Life of Pi” takes you on a journey within, exploring the vast ocean of human emotions, spirituality, and resilience, all against the backdrop of a literal sea.
For those planning a road trip or any long journey, “Life of Pi” is an excellent companion. Its gripping storyline makes those long hours fly by, while its deep philosophical undertones provide ample food for thought during those quiet moments on the road.
“Life of Pi” is more than just a novel; it’s an experience that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions and leaves you with profound insights about life, survival, and faith. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you do.
The Ultimate Guide to Reading Comfortably on a Plane
Traveling by plane can be an excellent opportunity to catch up on your reading list. However, creating a comfortable reading environment in a crowded cabin can also be challenging.
As a frequent flyer and book lover, I’ve compiled a few tips to help you read comfortably during your next flight.
1. Choosing the Right E-Reader/Tablet
While physical books are lovely, they can be bulky to pack. An e-reader or tablet, like Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s iPad, is a compact solution. They’re lightweight, easy to pack, can store thousands of books, and most have adjustable lighting to suit any environment. On the downside, they can be costly, and some people prefer the feel of a physical book.
2. Selecting the Right Seat
An aisle seat allows you to get up and move around without disturbing others, but a window seat allows you to lean and control the shade. If you’re planning to do a lot of reading, a window seat might be the best option.
3. Proper Lighting
Ensure your seat has a working reading light. E-readers with a backlight are great for low-light conditions. You can also bring a portable book light for physical books.
4. Comfortable Clothing
Wear loose, comfortable clothing and layers to adjust to fluctuating cabin temperatures. Warm socks or slippers can add to your comfort.
5. Noise-Canceling Headphones
Airplanes can be noisy. Investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones can provide peace. Play soft music or ambient sounds to immerse yourself in your book further.
6. Favorite Snacks: Airline food may not always be to your taste. Pack some of your favorite snacks to enjoy while reading. Remember to stay hydrated, too.
7. Book Stand or Holder: Holding a book or e-reader for hours can strain your hands. A portable book stand or holder can alleviate this. They’re generally lightweight and easy to pack.
8. Neck Pillow and Blanket: A neck pillow and travel blanket can provide extra comfort, especially for long flights. They can also help create a cozy reading environment.
9. Breaks: Remember to take breaks, especially during long flights. Stand, stretch, and rest your eyes every couple of hours.
10. Book Selection: Choose a book that suits your journey. A long flight might be perfect for diving into a thick novel, while a collection of short stories or essays might be better for shorter flights.
Reading on a plane can be a joy with a bit of preparation. By following these suggestions, you’ll be on your way to a comfortable and relaxing reading experience on your next flight.
Finding the best books to read on a plane can significantly enhance the enjoyment of long flights.
One standout recommendation is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece, “100 Years of Solitude”. Its gripping narrative, complex characters, and vivid descriptions make it an excellent choice for immersing oneself in a captivating world during lengthy travel.
The magic realism entwined within its pages offers a unique escape, turning hours of flying into a stimulating journey. Hence, for those seeking to transform their in-flight experience, investing time in well-chosen literature like “100 Years of Solitude” is highly recommended.