The one book to pack
October 6, 2014 3:18 PM   Subscribe

I am traveling for two weeks with a long flight. I have room for one really good book--what should I bring that will entertain me?

It needs to be a book I can pick up at Barnes and Noble tomorrow.

My flights are 18 hours total, which includes sleep time but I won't have an iPad or Kindle etc to entertain me.

So, it should be a fun book that I can slowly digest. It must have a happy ending.

It needs to fit in my personal bag.

The last books I read and enjoyed were: Mary Roach's Gulp and Sharon Shinn's Mystic and Rider.
posted by inevitability to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Mystic and Rider has 3 sequels, but none are all that long. Though if you have a smartphone of any kind (or a laptop), you can get the Kindle app, and read all the sequels - or anything else - on that.

Otherwise, the last long book I really liked was Stephen King's 11/22/63.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:32 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about The City and the City by China Mieville? You can get at least 2 readings out of it. It has probably the happiest ending I've read in a book by him.

Does this have to be a work of fiction? If not I would recommend Salt by Mark Kurlansky. It was an answer to an AskMe question I had and I really enjoyed it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:39 PM on October 6, 2014

The best book I've read in years was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Totally engrossing. I found the ending pretty upbeat, though others may feel differently.
posted by lunasol at 3:56 PM on October 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

the last long book I really liked was Stephen King's 11/22/63

I came in to mention 11/22/63 also. It's kind of a big book to carry around though unless you get it paperback.
posted by fuse theorem at 3:59 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

So far I'm loving Maplecroft by Cherie Priest
posted by Draccy at 4:00 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Something More Than Night by Ian Tregillis was a really good read.

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey is a hoot.

I'm not sure how to tell if something will be available at Barnes and Noble.
posted by doctor tough love at 4:11 PM on October 6, 2014

I dunno the works of Dickens always do it for me. Bleak House, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist. But I'd need quite a few books for two weeks and a long-assed flight.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:21 PM on October 6, 2014

A Suitable Boy is very long, delightful and has a happy ending.
posted by chaiminda at 4:22 PM on October 6, 2014

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz.

I loved The Goldfinch but suggest The Secret History first if you haven't read that.
posted by BibiRose at 5:09 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh and Cloud Atlas is not that long but it's very engrossing.
posted by BibiRose at 5:11 PM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Daniel O’Malley's The Rook is engrossing and amusing. I'm a big Mary Roach fan (although Gulp isn't my favorite) if that helps strengthen my endorsement.

If I could bring only one book it would be one of Patrick O'Brian's, because I can read them quickly or slowly, and Master and Commander is the first in the series.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:16 PM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm going to say The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson.
posted by sevenless at 5:49 PM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It's five novels in one, entertaining-as-fuck, and VERY rereadable.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:00 PM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Wow. I found The Goldfinch incredibly depressing & definitely wouldn't recommend it if you want something with a happy ending.

If you want something long, fun & with a happy ending I'd recommend The Princess Bride. Really. It's great.
posted by belladonna at 6:25 PM on October 6, 2014

It's probably too short but a book that did the trick for me once while traveling was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
posted by kat518 at 7:42 PM on October 6, 2014

I'd read Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth. It's a zillion pages long and also has a sequel. (Alternately, his Century Trilogy books, which are all also a zillion pages long.) He writes very, very readably. There are a lot of characters in each book, so not everything turns out wonderfully for all of them, but they're definitely not unhappy endings.
posted by jeather at 8:17 PM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale is long but amazing (pay no attention to the movie version. It was not the book.)
posted by Mchelly at 8:59 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Princess Bride. It's a treat.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:31 PM on October 6, 2014

I've read and reread East of Eden many times over the years. Might not be as thick as other suggestions, but it has lots of good passages to reflect on.
posted by sapere aude at 10:08 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you haven't read it-
'The Catcher In The Rye.'
It never leaves the 100 best seller list on Amazon with an almost perfect 5 star rating. (Occasionally an odd duck will hate Holden Caulfield. But here's the rub.....they don't hate the book....they hate Holden. And they even spend their time telling you why.)
Its a short, intense read.
Holden is hilarious. J.D. Salinger's genius will have you shaking your head in disbelief. Every one who reads it laughs and talks out matter where they are. BUT. ...ITS FAR FROM A COMEDY.
Holden Caulfield is THE fictional character who becomes alive.
(FYI.....the book is often on banned book lists. Some find the language controversial. ...most find it ...uhm..endearing. )
But don't let me raise your expectations so much so that it dilutes the thing. ; )
posted by Areyouin at 1:12 AM on October 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

A few books that got me through long flights are:

* Tom Robbins' Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates
* Neal Stephenson's Reamde or Anathem
* Jeffery Eugenides' Middlesex
* China Miéville's Railsea (which is lighter than his other books)

Reamde and Middlesex are both emotionally intense at times, but have happy endings.

Also, if you're interested in non-fiction, Jon Ronson's books are really enjoyable.
posted by neushoorn at 4:29 AM on October 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Nthing Middlesex and I recently read and adored Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:08 AM on October 7, 2014

"On Beauty" by Zadie Smith is immensely entertaining and has a lovely ending. "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" by Michael Chabon is also excellent and I thought it had a happy ending, but judging by the internet that point is controversial. "A Visit From The Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan was also lots of fun. Though looking at the date on this post, you're probably already in the air...
posted by zeusianfog at 4:03 PM on October 7, 2014

The Night Circus by Erin Morgensten was delightful.
posted by lizbunny at 9:04 PM on October 7, 2014

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