Not having anything to read on a flight is my personal hell. Even worse is getting pumped up for a book only to get 5 pages in, realize the prose is terrible, and spend the entire 5-hour flight flipping through SkyMall whilst fighting back tears of regret. But I won’t let that shit happen to you! When searching for a book to travel with (or download), I generally look for a few specific things. Unless it was recommended, the book I choose must pass at least one of the following stipulations-
- Under 150 pages
- Has a reflection component
- Transports me to another land
- Easy to start and stop
- Divided into short sections (or collection of short stories)
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
SHIVER! This book literally changed my life when I was 15 years old. I would highly advise not doing any research on this book and jumping right in. The most important part of the story is breathtaking if you aren’t expecting it. Even if you are a snoopy little beotch, the novel is full of unexpected twists. The effects of globalization and different cultures clashing is essential to understand for travelers!
Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Finished this book in a few hours- it was that good. The prose is so beautifully written and intricate, it could make a grown man weep. You can almost feel the Columbian sun on your shoulders and the damp floors of the dungeon. Marquez never fails to transport you to another world. The story itself is a little intense, with themes of pedophila (for lack of a better word) and religious infidelities.
Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
SO strangely interesting. More like a poem than a novel, the text has a little historical context. Inspired by the Greek myth of Geryon and the Tenth Labor of Herakles, the story revolves around three gay men in Argentina. I don’t want to give it away but I will say the best part is how damn poetic the whole thing is. There is also a crazy love triangle that is slightly hard to decipher. Keeps you wondering.
Four-Hour-Workweek by Tim Ferris
Okay, this guy is a legitimate legend. Talk about inspiring! I’m very into the whole alternative lifestyle, as in, there is no way in hell I’m sitting in a cubicle from 9:00-5:00 Monday-Friday. That just ain’t me, and it never has been. Even if you have no desire to quit your job, you really should read this book. He gives excellent time-management and prioritizing advice. Upgrade your life, love!
Animal Farm by George Orwell
If you haven’t read this by now, stop what your doing and pick this book up! I might be a nerd, but this is one of the novels I will re-read every few years just to get a reminder of what a damn good story is. The writing is simple enough to transport the heavy topic of communism, and it’s short enough that you’d be able to finish it on a long flight.
#GIRLBOSS By Sophia Amoruso
To me, flying is a wonderful way to disconnect with the world and reconnect with yourself. What better way to do this than by getting in touch with your inner boss bitch? Amoruso has a ton of honest, realistic advice and hilarious stories of how she got where she is today. She’s an inspiration to me because she had a million dollars cash from her business before she even went to the bank. Care about the job and the money will find you faster than the guy at the bar who already bought you three drinks. Did I mention she’s the founder of Nasty Gal? Oh yeah. She a bad one.
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Not sure how the world feels about “Self-Help” books, but I am a HUGE fan of personal development. Why the hell wouldn’t you want to be the best you that you can be?! Broken down into digestible chapters, she has basically taken centuries of knowledge and condensed it into modern language. Like really modern language. This lady is painfully hilarious and hits it home on pretty much every single point she makes. Great for anyone who is a little travel-shy and wants to bust out of that shell.
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Swear to G, this man will go down as the voice of our generation. Okay, he might be considered the generation above, but don’t let that stop you from devouring some of the best literature of our time. Diaz manages to provide painfully realistic love and life stories in a few pages. Although the stories are technically short essays, they all end up intertwining at the end. My stomach was in knots, tears of joy fell, and I gasped enough to have the person next to me ask if something was wrong. F’kin amazing book.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Actually had the pleasure of reading this book during my (mostly) solo trip to Europe. If you have a habit of slightly embarrassing yourself, this one will make you feel as graceful as Queen B herself. One woman reflects on her hilarious journey from a small town in Texas to a semi-successful blogging career and adulthood. Very light-hearted.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
DOUBLE SHUDDER! Another killer collection of short stories by a voice of our time. Sherman Alexie, a Native American poet and writer, does an unreal job at transporting you to the USA’s reservations. Some scenes are gut-wrenchingly sad, but with every stab to the heart, Alexie heals with insight into human nature. You’ll know my favorite story when he talks about his mom doing the rain-dance.