10 Books That Are Perfect For Long Plane Rides

You're not alone if you dread long flights. The recycled air, the stale food, the proximity to strangers laden with unknown quantities of bacteria… ugh. BUT! When else do you get hours of quiet, sustained, uninterrupted reading time? When else is it totally acceptable to eat two bars of Dairy Milk and drink a Diet Coke and call it a meal? When else can you not feel guilty for literally not moving at all for 8-plus hours in the name of reading a really good romance novel? Never!

So long-haul flights have their upsides. But figuring out the perfect book to bring along with you on that flight can be a whole other source of stress: it has to be engrossing and gripping; relatively easy to read, but not a complete waste of time; fun, for sure, but it’s also nice to learn something new along the way. (And, if you’re old school like me, it has to be lightweight.)

I’ve got you covered, high flyer: these 10 books have been personally vetted by either me or a fellow frequent-flying loved one. From the short stories to the memoirs to the mysteries to the straight-up good fiction, this list has something for every traveler’s tastes. Happy trails!

'One Plus One' by Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes is the queen of the airplane read — and I mean that as a compliment. All of her books are perfect packages of un-put-down-able goodness, but I’m partial to One Plus One , which tells the unlikely story of a young single mother, a rich tech wiz in the midst of a personal and professional crisis, and the road trip that brings them together.

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'Single, Carefree, Mellow' by Katherine Heiny

If you’re heading on a long-haul flight, make sure you pack a short story collection in your carry on: they’re less intimidating to crack open than novels, but they’re just as satisfying to finish in one sitting. Katherine Heiny’s Single, Carefree, Mellow is one of the best of 2015 so far, and, for serious, one of my personal favorite collections of all time. Every story, which focuses on irreverent but sympathetic women cheating on their husbands (or sleeping with their teachers), is fresh and smart and sophisticated, and, most importantly, funny.

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'How to Be a Woman' by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran is my High Priestess of Feminism and Generally Being a Badass Chick, so I couldn’t help but gobble up her memoir/essay collection How to Be a Woman in one very inspiring, very hilarious sitting. If you’re a feminist, or think you’re a feminist (which means you actually are a feminist) — or if you appreciate laughing, which I really hope you do — please read this book.

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'The Ladies of Grace Adieu' by Susanna Clarke

There’s something about settling in for a long plane ride that makes my brain crave a good fantasy. Maybe it’s because airplanes are actually hell above earth, so my brain’s like, “Don’t even worry about the fact that you’re breathing in your strange neighbors farts and sneezes for the next 10 hours! Here’s some MAGIC for you!” Susanna Clarke’s short story collection, which is dark and moody and escapist and so insanely magical, saved me from a very nightmarish, very delayed flight home from Honolulu, for which I am eternally grateful. I hardly even noticed the toddler kicking the back of my seat the whole time.

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'And Then There Were None' by Agatha Christie

There’s a reason why 98 percent (I made that up) of the world’s airports sell Agatha Christie books: it’s because she rocks, and mysteries, even charmingly antiquated ones like Ms. Christie’s 1945 classic And Then There Were None , are perfectly engrossing reads for long flights.

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'Attachments' by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments: another book that saved me from another nightmarishly delayed flight home. It’s safe to place your bets on all four of Rainbow Rowell’s books to keep you cozy on a long flight because they are all incredibly wonderful. But Attachments is especially fun because half of it is in email form, which makes reading it akin in ease and enjoyment to filling in a coloring book (which you could bring along with you, too).

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'Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution' by Sara Marcus

All those hours with your butt condemned to six inches of wiggle room actually provide the perfect opportunity to brush up on your cultural history (but not boring history, natch). Sara Marcus’ Girls to the Front is the best written and most encompassing history of the riot grrrl movement I’ve yet read, and it also provides you with a kickass roster of bands to check out when you’ve finally touched down. And yes, the ’90s do count as history.

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'An Age of License: A Travelogue' by Lucy Knisley

Crepes? Kittens? Hot French dudes? Yes, please. Lucy Knisley’s graphic memoir An Age of License recounts the cartoonist’s travels through Europe on a book tour, with an emphasis on the really delicious food she ate across the continent. Because obviously the most exciting part of traveling is the food. Obviously.

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'A Thousand Years of Good Prayers' by Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li’s acclaimed debut story collection explores life in China, or as a Chinese-American, illuminating the beauty of Chinese culture, but also of a perfectly-crafted piece of fiction. You won’t even know you’ve been sitting on a plane for the last several hours of your life after whizzing through these gorgeous stories.

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'Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last' by Patience Bloom

Romance! Always a good companion for a long and lonely flight. Patience Bloom’s memoir Romance Is My Day Job recounts the writer’s search for love, outside the books she edits for Harlequin on a daily basis. Funny, smart, and original, this is a romance book you don’t have to feel guilty about smuggling onto the plane.

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