8 Quick Reads for a Long Flight

August will be a travel-heavy month for From Ship to Shore. We’ll be bringing you articles, reviews, and pictures from Los Angeles and Scottsdale, meaning there’s going to be lots of flying involved. So, it’s time to plan ahead for some ways to pass the wifi-less time on all those planes.

While a 7-hour plane ride might sound like the perfect time to get cracking on that huge, classic tome that you feel obligated to read (I’m lookin’ at you, War and Peace), let’s face it: flying can be pretty exhausting and uncomfortable, leaving you with little will to cuddle up with lengthy Russian existentialism. Instead, quick reads are sure to pass the time and be the perfect, relaxing way to spend a few hours.

Whether you’re prepping for a long flight, a beach week, or just want some new books, here’s a few amazing options:

1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
I just finished this book and it’s hilarious. Mindy Kaling, creator of The Mindy Project and Kelly Kapoor on The Office, has such a quirky, engaging voice. She offers some crazy stories about growing up, writing and producing The Office, and even her short stint at SNL.

2. The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo
This book is short and sweet, not to mention perfect for travelers. It follows a shepherd boy as he travels around the world in search of treasure, teaching valuable moral lessons along the way. It’s a modern fable and will surely be considered a classic in the future.

3. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Semple’s novel is genuinely funny. 15-year-old Bee must set out to find her mother, an agoraphobic genius who runs away before the family leaves for a vacation in Antarctica. And this is all coming from a writer who’s penned several episodes of Arrested Development, which pretty much says it all.

4. Bossypants by Tina Fey
This is an autobiographical and comedic masterpiece. To me, Tina Fey can do no wrong (I mean, look at Mean Girls and 30 Rock). This book will only take a couple of hours to get through, and each page is enjoyable and brutally honest. Just read it!

5. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
While this is definitely a more serious book than the past four, tackling issues like cultural assimilation and struggling relationships, its short story format makes it fast-paced and always engaging. Lahiri, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, really is one of the greatest writers of our time: her stories are thoughtful and, despite their short length, leave a big impression on her readers.

6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
This is for those literature nerds out there (represent!). If you want to take on a classic without stressing yourself out over decoding flowery old English or extreme postmodernism, Oscar Wilde is your guy. While the language is definitely flowery, it’s in the most entertaining way that’s both beautiful and haunting. Even by today’s standards, this Victorian novel is pretty crazy.

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
You might recognize Green’s name from The Fault in Our Stars, but don’t worry: this book is emotional, but not nearly as devastatingly tear-jerking. While a YA novel, YA has become increasingly popular over the last few years even amongst adults, in part thanks to the genre’s honesty, humor, and fast-paced nature. Looking for Alaska deals with love and loss at a boarding school in Alabama with plenty of endearing characters, a fascination with famous people’s last words, and lighthearted moments to balance out the more serious scenes.

8. The Short Novels of John Steinbeck
Back to the classics! Technically, this is six books, but I’m going to cheat anyways. Steinbeck is one of the best modernist best writers not only for his depictions of early 20th-century America, but also for his simple but meaningful prose. Most people will have at least read Of Mice and Men in high school, which is well worth revisiting while also dipping into some of his lesser-known works.