Why enjoying an “airplane book” is one of the big losses during the pandemic

These days, I miss “airplane books”

airplane bookLong gone are the days when the only entertainment options you could watch during plane flights were movies. And, when you felt lucky if the movie was either one you hadn’t seen or wanted to see again. But even in those days, my favorite airline entertainment was a book. Not just any book. An “airplane book.” Regular readers will know what I mean.

Onboard Internet admittedly has eliminated the in-air feeling of being completely cut off from work. On the other hand, WiFi on many planes is slow enough and intermittent enough that I’m always ready to take a break. Of course, while sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with others there aren’t the usual potential distractions like, “I really should do housework.” I can’t run an errand or do some other chore. And, aboard planes, phone calls are out.

Mysteries are my favorite airplane books

Mysteries are a particular favorite of mine onboard a flight. You can keep the plot track in your head, and be more attuned to potential clues than you might be with regular distractions. Elizabeth George, whose mysteries are long, is one of my favorite airplane book authors. Ditto books that are evocative of a time and place.

I had tried more than once at home to get into “Where the Crawdads Sing.” Several friends recommended it. I never got into it. But up in the air on one flight from Europe, I fell under its spell. A friend told me about reading “The Shining” while on a transatlantic flight. He was so engrossed in the book that at one suspenseful moment, he actually jumped out of his seat and shouted an expletive deleted. For him, that was a great airplane book.

You are being secretly taxed at airportsThe best airplane reads in my opinion aren’t too serious. Or too dense. Even back in my college days, it was hard to focus on hardcore textbook-type reading in the air. Although, I will give kudos to those who can get absorbed in something educational.

Having a real book advertising what airplane book you are reading

And even in a Kindle era, seeing other people’s books can often give YOU the idea for something new to read. Even now, when we all hope to be at least a middle seat away from our seatmate. I still also have fond memories of being upgraded at the last minute while flying last year into seat 1F and seeing that the guy sitting in 1E and I had identical copies of Bob Woodward’s book, “Fear.”

In any case, a good airplane book, whatever your fancy, is engrossing. Enough to keep you flipping pages for a few hours at least. It’s even better with an adult beverage in hand. And you know it’s a perfect choice when you hear the captain make the announcement that she or he will be turning on the seat belt sign in preparation for landing. You are almost disappointed if you don’t think you can finish the book before the plane lands and arrives at the gate.

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Bring your own paperback

I hate purchasing books at airport bookstores, They are always overpriced. Of course, in the UK the bookstores are wonderful, since they have many hardcover best-sellers already in paperback printings. And, once, I found a wonderful bookstore that allowed you to swap one book for another, plus a $2 fee. Or, you could buy a previously-read airplane book for half-price. I was a happy flier.

We’re all trying to be positive and dreaming of flying regularly again. And, perhaps, dreaming of reading the perfect airplane book. Please feel free to share one or two of your favorite “airplane books” in the comments.