Getting to Australia takes about 24 hours including getting to and from the airport, going through security and customs, air time, layovers, and so forth. It’s a long time and sometimes airport and in-flight entertainment isn’t very entertaining. I love to read and my Kindle must come with me. Here are some of my favourite reads for a long journey. These books can be read in 8-12 hours, which means you can finish one and still have time to sleep, eat, and catch an in-flight movie. I’m keeping tearjerkers off the list to avoid hysterical weeping.
This young-adult novel explores a post-apocalyptic world where a highly-advanced metropolitan city rules oppressively over the rest of the nation. Seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, the Hunger Games is an annual event in which children are forced to compete in a televised battled to the death until only one is left. Although it’s self-contained, The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy and I recommend all of them. Written for young adults, The Hunger Games is easy reading, but it’s thought-provoking and full of action.
Jane Austen’s classic novel follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with manners, education, and marriage in 19th century English society. I realize that may not sound very exciting, but there are reasons why this novel published in 1813 remains fascinating to contemporary readers. She created beloved characters in Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy and Austen’s explorations of the importance of environment and upbringing on the development of character and morality remain as relevant as ever. There are some fine film adaptations of this novel including the terrific 1995 BBC serial with Colin Firth, a fun 2004 Bollywood adaptation titled Bride and Prejudice, and a pretty decent 2005 film with Keira Knightley.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece is the story of seven generations of the Buendía Family, whose patriarch José Arcadio Buendía and wife Ursula found the town of Macondo on a river of clear water somewhere in 19th century South America. From there, José invents the world according to his perceptions. The town soon finds itself amidst unusual and extraordinary events. The novel explores the fluidity of time, reality, and solitude. It is a beautiful example of magical realism and every page is a feast. I can’t recommend this novel enough.
A few tears might be unavoidable with this one. Amy Tan’s moving novel follows four Chinese-American families, particularly the immigrant mothers and their American-born daughters, in San Francisco. The book is structured into four parts divided into four sections and the women’s stories are told in short, interlocking vignettes. The Joy Luck Club is a poignant and insightful exploration of generation and cultural gaps, ethnicity, gender, and personal identity. For Americans living in Australia, especially those raising children, I think the book will be especially resonating. This novel has been adapted into a wonderful film.
This one I haven’t actually read yet; it’s on my reading list. Historian Geoffrey Blainey offers an introduction to the events and people that have created the Australian identity in the 20th century. According to reviews, it’s a tour de force through Aboriginal history, religious and city rivalries, sports mania, conflicts of war abroad and race at home, and more. If you’re not traveling to Australia (which you should do at some point in your life; say hello), I recommend taking a book about your travel destination instead.
What books do you recommend for a long flight?
Disclaimer: Clicking on the titles will navigate you to Amazon and, if you buy any of these, I will get a tiny commission.