The Best Books for Plane Rides—Both Short & Long

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Do you have a flight coming up and don’t know what books to take on the plane? What are the best books to read on short and long flights?

Plane rides aren’t exactly known for being the most entertaining way to spend your time. And if there aren’t many good movie options, the clock seems to tick in slow motion. But a good book has a special way of making time speed up. 

Pick up one of these books before your trip and you’ll be at your destination before you know it.

Addictive Books You Can Finish on a Flight

Due to the world finally opening back up after Covid, this summer is expected to be the most-traveled summer in years—some are even calling it “sold out summer” for that reason. And with so many people heading off for vacation, we thought we’d help you pick out some airplane reads so you can tune out the crying babies and the hum of the engine.

So buckle up, put your phone into airplane mode, and let’s get reading!

The Best Books for Shorter Flights

Planning which book to take on a shorter flight is an important decision. You want to make sure you’re entertained, but you don’t want to be stuck on a cliff-hanger when it’s time to grab your luggage from the overhead compartment.

Here are some good reads for quick flights.

The Alchemist

TITLE: The Alchemist
AUTHOR: Paulo Coelho
TIME: 11
READS: 36.1
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: the-alchemist-summary-paulo-coelho

The Alchemist is a story of transformation. But rather than transforming lead into gold, Paulo Coelho teaches us, through the story of a shepherd boy who has the courage to follow his dreams, the power of transformation for our lives.

Coelho is a Brazilian novelist who has published over 30 literary works, from the 1980s to the present. In 1986 he walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage road and had a spiritual awakening that inspired the direction of his work going forward. To date, The Alchemist, published in 1988, is Coelho’s best-known work, and it was an international bestseller.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This is a mystery story about an autistic savant boy’s mission to investigate the death of a neighbor’s dog. The story follows the teen’s eventful journey and puts readers inside the head of someone with Asperger’s syndrome. This book is important for both teens and adults because it offers insights into what it’s like to navigate the world with autism. On top of that, it’s a good who-done-it story.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

TITLE: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
AUTHOR: Heather Morris
TIME: 35
READS: 44.2
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: the-tattooist-of-auschwitz-summary-heather-morris

During World War II, six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis—many at concentration camps. One of the worst camps was Auschwitz-Birkenau, where hundreds of thousands of Jews and other German enemies were imprisoned. Yet one man found a way to survive the camp. He became the tattooist, marking each arriving prisoner with a six-digit number that would become their new identity. This work protected him from the worst treatment and helped him meet the young woman he would fall madly in love with. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the fictionalized harrowing tale of love and perseverance in one of the darkest moments in history.

Who Moved My Cheese?

TITLE: Who Moved My Cheese?
AUTHOR: Spencer Johnson
TIME: 21
READS: 27.6

We all experience change in our lives. It can be distressing or rewarding, depending on our approach. Who Moved My Cheese is a parable that demonstrates in practical terms how to handle change better and avoid pitfalls, by practicing a few key principles: anticipate and prepare for change, overcome fears, envision success, and enjoy change. By depicting simple, memorable characters and scenarios, the parable gives you a framework for responding to change successfully.

Wuthering Heights

This 1847 classic by Emily Brontë is the story is about a love affair between childhood friends that turns resentful and violent. Many believe that this book is one of the greatest heartbreak stories from history. Despite being decades old, Amazon reviewers say that Wuthering Heights is a compelling and addictive read that’s hard to put down.

milk and honey

TITLE: Milk and Honey
AUTHOR: Rupi Kaur
TIME: 17
READS: 34.8
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: milk-and-honey-summary-rupi-kaur

Rupi Kaur experienced oppression and abuse throughout her life. From an uncle who raped her as a child to a father who demanded she stay silent, she grew up in an environment that taught her she was worthless. However, as she grew up, her experiences with love and heartbreak taught her how to find the beauty in herself and how to heal in the face of painful experiences. Through her use of beautiful language, Kaur takes you on her emotional journey to love herself in the face of painful and oppressive experiences.


TITLE: Meditations
AUTHOR: Marcus Aurelius
TIME: 24
READS: 201.4
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: meditations-summary-marcus-aurelius

Meditations, by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, is one of the definitive texts on Stoicism. In Meditations, Aurelius shares his thoughts about the importance of logic over emotion and helps you to start training your mind to think rationally. By following Stoic teachings, you can live with purpose and die with dignity.


There isn’t a better way to get you excited about your trip than to read inspiring travel material. In his book Vagabonding (the book that inspired Tim Ferriss’s famous book The 4-Hour Workweek), Rolf Potts intertwines his personal world travel stories along with travel advice, dos and don’ts, and advice and stories from other “vagabonders.”

Books for Longer Flights

Long-haul flights can be grueling—there are only so many random movies you can watch before you start to go crazy. That’s why it’s the perfect time to catch up on some reading. Whether there’s a classic you’ve been meaning to read, a series that you’ve been itching to delve into, or an inspirational read that’ll get you pumped for your trip, a good book is sure to make the flight pass quicker. 

Here are our picks for the best books to read on long flights.

Eat Pray Love

TITLE: Eat Pray Love
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Gilbert
TIME: 47
READS: 54.9
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: eat-pray-love-summary-elizabeth-gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert’s life imploded after she filed for divorce from her husband when she was 30 years old. She was still reeling from their contentious separation when she fell in love with someone else. But when this love ended, she fell into a deep depression. She knew something drastic needed to happen to save her life. She decided to embark on a year-long journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia to find pleasure, spiritual guidance, and harmony in her soul. Eat Pray Love depicts Gilbert’s journey of survival and transformation. It is the story of her learning to move out of the darkness and into the light.


If you like Eat Pray Love, then Wild should be right up your alley. The memoir follows 26-year-old Cheryl Strand’s story of adventure and grief. After her mom dies and her marriage falls apart, she decides to walk from the Mojave Desert to Washington state alone—with little to no hiking experience. It’s a thrilling survival story about overcoming despair and finding yourself.

The Harry Potter Series

Do we even need a book synopsis for this one? If you’ve been meaning to read (or re-read) the Harry Potter series, what better time to do it than when you’re forced to sit for hours with nothing to do? Harry Potter will take your boring plane trip and turn it into an adventure full of magic and wonder. And if you’ve been meaning to get your kids into the series, this is the perfect time to introduce it to them.


TITLE: Becoming
AUTHOR: Michelle Obama
TIME: 60
READS: 83.6
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: becoming-summary-michelle-obama

Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming delivers candid reflections on the life of the first African-American first lady. Offering a window into her personal evolution, Michelle details how ambition, hard work, and embracing her authentic story helped her journey from her family’s Chicago working-class neighborhood to a 47th-floor law office, then to the White House and beyond.

Where the Crawdads Sing

TITLE: Where the Crawdads Sing
AUTHOR: Delia Owens
TIME: 49
READS: 24.8
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: where-the-crawdads-sing-delia-owens

A little girl growing up alone in the lush marshes of the North Carolina coast. A young woman who falls in love and experiences the anguish of a broken heart. A promise of marriage. A betrayal that leads to death. In Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens reveals these moments along Kya Clark’s journey to survive after her family abandons her as a child. Owens’s prose is as lush as the environment she describes, making you feel you are with Kya every step of the way. As Kya deals with discrimination and torment by the local townspeople, she must also navigate matters of the heart and decide if opening her heart is worth the risk when all she’s known is loss. This book has also been recently adapted into a major film.

Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code

There’s a reason why Dan Brown’s books are often found on the shelves of airport bookstores—they’re compelling reads that are nearly impossible to put down. They have history, drama, mystery, action, and even a bit of romance. Pick up one of the books from the Da Vinci Code series and you’ll have reached your destination before you realize the plane took off.


TITLE: Educated
AUTHOR: Tara Westover
TIME: 32
READS: 32.8
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: educated-summary-tara-westover

Educated: A Memoir is Tara Westover’s autobiography. In it, she shows us her transformation from being the daughter of survivalist, fundamentalist, anti-science, anti-medicine, and anti-education parents, to becoming a Cambridge-educated historian. Westover gains the strength to break free from the ideological chains of her youth and discovers the agency to make her own choices about how she sees and experiences the world.


AUTHOR: Stephanie Land
TIME: 14
READS: 24.1
BOOK_SUMMARYURL: maid-summary-stephanie-land

Maid is Stephanie Land’s memoir of her struggle to make ends meet as a single mom by working as a housekeeper and relying on government assistance. Beyond being a personal narrative, Maid is also a broader social commentary on the American “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. Land does backbreaking labor under difficult conditions while caring for her daughter and studying to get a college degree—yet circumstances beyond her control keep her mired in poverty. From domestic abuse to flawed government policies, the obstacles that Land must overcome are overwhelming.

Pride and Prejudice

This 1813 classic tale by Jane Austin is a must-read for drama and romance lovers. The story follows the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, as she navigates through the British education system, learns manners, and falls in love in Regency England. It’s one of the most loved books in English literature.

Have a Fun Flight

Hopefully, these books will help make your plane ride more entertaining. And who knows? You might discover your new favorite book along the way.

The Best Books for Plane Rides—Both Short & Long

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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