A few weeks ago, while sitting in the international terminal of JFK, five hours too early for my flight, I started perusing the book section of Hudson News. With the emergence of smartphones and iPads, old fashioned bookshelves at airports have become almost obsolete. So, it was with great surprise and satisfaction that I noted this particular bookstand to be completely and overwhelmingly full. With so many to choose from, I couldn’t help but wonder, which would best pass the time? I have not read all of the books from the following list but plan to at some point during my travels.
1. 11/22/63 – Stephen King
Why it’s great: With a captivating emotional appeal opening the novel and a plot driven by tension and suspense, 11/22/63 will keep you captivated for at least 24 hours of straight travel as it is a whopping 849 pages long.
Audience: Fans of thriller, mystery, and slight horror as well as academics and history buffs will gain satisfaction from completing this masterpiece.
2. The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
Why it’s great: I have loved this novel since I read it seven years ago. The vibrancy of the characters and the strength of Kidd’s writing will force the hustle and bustle of the travelers around you disappear. It’s a relatively quick read (a flight from New York to Europe, perhaps) and if you finish it before landing, there’s a movie to complement the book.
Audience: Lovers of classics like Gone with the Wind and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn will fall in the love with the poignant and unforgettable characters.
3. A Splendor of Letters – Nicholas A. Basbanes
Why it’s great: I was just given this novel as a gift and am loving it thus far. A Splendor of Letters is a book about books, a bibliophile’s dream. It’s great for long days of travel because it’s a book that makes you pause and think.and think and think. You are guaranteed not to be bored.
Audience: Academics and deep thinkers. This one might be difficult to find in an airport gift shop so plan accordingly.
4. Angels and Demons – Dan Brown
Why it’s great: I read this book almost ten years ago on a weekend trip to Canada. It was one of those books where people were trying to have conversations with me and I was isolating myself in a corner, reading.
Audience: Anyone who likes a great read and a fast-moving plot.
5. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
Why it’s great: Besides the fact that it’s one of the most classic of all classics, Anna Karenina is long and requires focus and attention – which is one surefire way to get your mind off of travel. It also exposes the reader to an entirely different culture and world that will make you ready to jump off the plane and into a completely new experience.
Audience: Mature readers, ready for a great story and a good cry.