The bags are packed, the passport up-to-date and held like a precious object, the seats are selected and now you’re ready to take off on the adventure of a lifetime. But there’s one little problem, what are you going to do to pass the time on that dreaded 12 hour flight apart from dream about your perfect destination. Why read books of course! (Shh, don’t mention the TV, books are all you need.)
But there are just so many books to read, which one do you pick as you stand bewildered in front of the airport bookstore. Lucky for you, I’m here with 5 friendly suggestions on the best books that I have found are gripping enough to help you pass the time, but still full of fascinating characters and colourful words that might just feed that wanderlust.
I’ll admit it, I am totally biased in these suggestions. The books listed below are in my personal top 10 and as I am particularly interested in historical fiction, fantasy, and young adult novels my choices will obviously reflect that.
But if you’re looking for compelling stories, expert world-building, characters that will instantly make you fall in love and settings that will fuel your self-exploration goals, then look no further!
1 – A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper
Let’s start things off with a bang shall we! The first in a trilogy, A Brief History of Montmaray (and it’s sequels) are probably my favourite books. Set in an island kingdom between England and Spain in the lead up and eventually into World War II, the heart-warming, utterly darling story of A Brief History of Montmaray is told through journal of one Sophie Fitzosborne – the dreamiest Fitzosborne princess I ever did come to love.
Like most 16-year-old girls Sophie dreams about the fashions of 20th century London, crushes on her eccentric housekeeper’s son Simon Chester, misses her brother Toby at school in England, tries to stop her sharp-tonged cousin Veronica from tearing down literally anyone that gets in her way, and attempts to stop her younger sister Henry from inadvertently killing herself on some wayward adventure (So relatable, right?). But unlike any other teenage girl Sophie is a Princess of a crumbling and impoverished Kingdom, one who’s mad King (her uncle) has locked himself in his room and refuses to come out.
But when two Nazi soldiers come a-knockin’ on the Montmaray Castle door in search of a mysterious artefact, things get very real for all the Fitzosbornes.
A Brief History of Montmaray is an adorable tale of maturity, family, loyalty and trying to keep your life together when the whole damn world is falling apart all set in the tumultuous times of World War II. Do yourself a favour and just read it!
2 – The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Oh The Golem and the Jinni, where do I start! I read this entire book from front to back cover while on holiday in gorgeous Marcoola Beach, I just couldn’t put it down.
The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of Chava, a golem straight out of Hebrew mythology, and Ahmad, a jinni born in the ancient Syrian desert, as through haphazard circumstances they find themselves released into turn of the century New York in 1899, a melting pot of different cultures and ways of life.
Chava wants to live the most human life that she can, while Ahmad strains against the bonds (literal bonds) that tie him to his new life halfway across the world. Romance, magic, friendship, multiculturalism and feels ensue.
Wrapped in fairy-tale like circumstance and drawing on ancient mythological of some of the world’s oldest cultures, The Golem and the Jinni is the perfect read to get you inspired to discover new cultures and worlds.
3 – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Ah Fangirl, the Rainbow Rowell hit novel that started it all for me. This one is for those among you that love a good coming-of-age and discovering yourself story, I know I do!
Cath is a twin, one that has dedicated herself to the Simon Snow fandom by writing a hit fanfiction with her sister Wren. She is also going to college, and Wren has decided she wants nothing to do with her sister and her past identity, and so Cath is set afloat in a world where belonging to a fandom is not as important to everybody else as it is to her.
Facing the challenges of new roommates, leaving home and a parent behind, and making friends in a completely new environment, Cath is understandably freaking the fudge out (which I’m sure is relatable for some of you first time travellers).
Fangirl follows Cath’s giggle-inducing, heart-touching story as she finds herself separate from her fandom bubble, and struggling but determined to swim.
4 – Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
How to describe Wolf by Wolf? Take a little bit of alternate history in which the Axis powers won World War II, add a Jewish girl who is the subject of genetic mutations resulting in shapeshifting abilities (this is Yael, Yael is a badass), then a pinch of a motorcycle race across the world to win a dance with Hitler so that the resistance (of which Yael is a member) can launch their very own Operation Valkyrie. Sounds enticing, right?
Add to this mixture a dose of prose so beautiful that you’ll be highlighting quotes all over the page, and characters that leave you both thankful for the world we occupy, and questioning the quality of your relationships. What I mean to say is this book is amazing!
A recent read of mine, I just couldn’t tear myself away from the action long-enough to put it down, even when Yael’s heart-squeezing backstory continues to unfold periodically throughout the story. Of course, this compellability means it’s perfect for that long-haul flight you’re dreading!
5 – The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
This one is for those classic, epic high fantasy lovers out there. Love Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings? You’re going to love The Way of Kings.
Brandon Sanderson is a high fantasy god and is perhaps best known as the author who finished Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series after said Robert Jordan unfortunately passed away before completing the long-running series.
At a hefty 1000+ pages, you can understand why this book was split into two. I have regrettably only read the first part and thus can’t vouch for the second half of the book. If you have a kindle, you’re definitely in luck with this one!
Set in a world where an epic recurring disaster known as the Desolation releases monstrous Voidbringers to ravage the world periodically, WOK is told from the viewpoint of several major characters: Szeth, an assassin, Kaladin, a surgeon and soldier turned cannon fodder through a cruel twist of events, Shallan, a noble whose family have fallen on hard times who is sent as the ward and student of the King’s sister Jasnah (in order to steal a precious object), Dalinar, highprince, Adolin, Dalinar’s son, and Navani, Dalinar’s lost love and Jasnah’s mother.
Yes, this book has nearly as many characters as Game of Thrones; yes, it is equally as awesome.
Magic, family, war, a political plotline to sink your teeth into, and a fantasy world that will keep you entertained for hours are what makes this tome of a book so compelling.
Hey, you’ve got the time, why not check it out?
What are your favourite books to read on a long-haul flight? Have a favourite you just keep going back to? Leave a comment below and help out your favourite travellers with their book-buying woes!