10 Books That'll Make You Wish Your Flight Would Never End

shelved under Personal Favorites and Fiction

These ten books are good. Really good. I know I couldn't put them down — I may even read them again.

Right now my mind is mush (yours would be too if you did what I did for a living) so the best I can say about these titles is that they're all character driven, and that's what I like in a book. They're each set at different times and places and each character has different wants and needs... but all are all powerful and strong with some definite sort of message.

Oh, and how good are these books? They're so good that they'll not only make you wish your flight was longer, they may even make you forget that you're cramped in a middle seat in coach. And I should know — I'm a flight attendant.

 

The Secret History

by Donna Tartt

Molly Ives Brower from The Vintage Reader says:

Donna Tartt was the last of that literary Brat Pack of the '80s that included writers like Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz. Unlike their books, which tended to be about young adults in big cities who took a lot of drugs and had a lot of sex, The Secret History is set at a small college campus (probably based on Bennington), and features a lot of snow, atmosphere and obsession. It gives classics majors the kind of glamorous intrigue they hardly ever have in real life.

 

The Catcher in the Rye

by J.D. Salinger

Tad Friend says:

You mean you haven't read it already about, like, twelve times?

 
 

Lolita

by Vladimir Nabokov

Laura Marello says:

All my life I've been surprised that people misjudged Lolita. How could you think the author wants you to sympathize with a character named Humbert Humbert? Lolita is about a sensitive subject — a man who marries a woman to get to her twelve year-old daughter, but it is literature, make no mistake. It's a disturbing, haunting, creepy and disgusting book. It's also a modern classic.

 

The Handmaid's Tale

by Margaret Atwood

Aimee Dars Ellis says:

One of my favorite books of all time, "The Handmaid's Tale," presents a dystopian future in which the United States government is taken over by a far-right religious faction.

Men loyal to the cause are given positions in the government. Women, on the other hand, are limited in their options — they can be Marthas, Wives, Handmaids, or Hookers with few exceptions. Government officials and their wives need handmaids because of a population crisis in which most women are unable to conceive.

The book tells the story of one Handmaid, her confined life, and how she arrived at this point. Beautifully written, this book is as relevant today as when it was written.

 

Bel Canto

by Ann Patchett

Stephanie Dowrick says:

As a little girl my parents allowed my older sister and me to read everywhere — even during meals. Burying myself in a novel is perhaps the most consistent joy stretching through my entire life and my latest favorite is Ann Patchett’s astonishing and utterly engaging Bel Canto. It's a musical novel in every sense — not just because of its title or because several of its most compelling, unforgettable characters are musicians. It literally “plays” upon your inner ear, is full of surprises, has haunting “recitatives” and, when the end comes, you can only feel heartbreak that you cannot know more about every one of these people who have become so real to you that you can not only hear them, you can taste them. Isn’t it true that reading is a deeply, deeply sensual as well as intellectual and sometimes spiritual experience? This book utterly illuminates that.

 

The Poisonwood Bible

by Barbara Kingsolver

Denise Fawcett Facey says:

Tightly binding culture and religion to each character in a different way, this book was fascinating to me as what was then the Belgian Congo is seen through the eyes of each female member of a missionary family from Georgia. While the shattering of 1950s racial attitudes might be expected by the reader, a myriad of unforeseen events literally left me with my mouth open.

 

Empress Orchid

by Anchee Min

J McH says:

A story of the last empress of Imperial China. In its last years the bureaucracy in the Forbidden City where 'Orchid' had to live as a concubine was full of corruption and deceit. 'Orchid' has been vilified ever since as an evil, conniving woman who was largely responsible for the weakness of China against the European powers such as France, Germany and Britain. Anchee Min portrays 'Orchid' as a woman who is doing what she has to to survive (and make the most of) the situation she is in. So the book gives the reader greater insight into the woman herself, her motives and restricted vision, beyond the stereotype. Survival and politics... fascinating.

 

A Widow for One Year

by John Irving

Tina Nole says:

I'm in the middle of this book now and it's fan-freaking-tastic — and sometimes feels like I shouldn't be reading it in public as it gets a little racy at times — but is funny and sad and strange.

This book also appears on Tina Nole's Favorite Books

 

I Know This Much Is True

by Wally Lamb

David M. says:

Wally Lamb does an excellent job of combining well-written literature and awareness for mental illness. As a social worker who minored in English, Lamb integrates these two subjects well. The characters are so real and yet tragic. This tome (about 900 pages) will keep you hooked as you explore the lives of these characters, while raising awareness for schizophrenia.

This book also appears on Oprah's Book Club

 

Atlas Shrugged

by Ayn Rand

Miss Hannah says:

Throughout history there have been people who have, through pure genius and hard work, moved mankind beyond its limits. Like Atlas, who carried the world on his shoulders, most of these people lived (and died) unappreciated. But where would we be without them? What would we do if our indifference caused them to stop trying? What if our ingratitude caused them to leave us to our own devices? "Atlas Shrugged" will at different moments leave you feeling confused, disturbed, empowered, powerless, skeptical, and even, for a few pages, bored. But through it all, it will have you fascinated, challenging what you thought you knew about human nature, and maybe even re-examining your stand on many issues. Not a book I would recommend taking to a tropical beach, but a great read for the student of human nature, the soul searcher in every reader.