Tales on a Plane
May 5, 2016 8:50 AM   Subscribe

It's been awhile since we had a "long flight book recommendations' question. Please give me your recent favorites for making the time fly by!

Specific to me details:

- I enjoy YA lit, have already read Harry Potter and Hunger Games.

-I like thrillery/mystery stuff like Dan Brown, but I DON'T like murder mysteries. There needs to be some sort of supernatural / historical/ other creepy element beyond just who killed who.

- I enjoyed Gone Girl and The Wrong Mother, not sure what genre these are, suspense?

-nothing too cerebral; I want to be absorbed, but don't really want to think about the complexities of Middlemarch.

I would rec Pillars of the Earth to myself and others; sadly I've already read it!
posted by nakedmolerats to Media & Arts (37 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
I think you might like Version Control by Dexter Palmer - it's on the longer side so would be good for a flight, and involves elements of suspense + alternate timelines/scifi. And of course, if you haven't read Rainbow Rowell's Carry On, that should be on your list as it is essentially Harry Potter fan fic (not really, but it hits many of the same buttons, and bonus is that it's long so perfect for a flight).
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:58 AM on May 5, 2016

Yeah I would recommend the Pendergast series for this purpose. Highly entertaining, super quick thrillery reads that can weather being put down and picked up again 4 times in the middle of a paragraph. Also there are a ton of them so you'll have plenty of material no matter how long your flights are.
posted by phunniemee at 8:59 AM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

I really loved Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: it's a literary post-apocalypse novel. Really well-written, exciting and yet heart-warming as well. Highly recommended.
posted by suelac at 9:04 AM on May 5, 2016 [7 favorites]

The Girl With All The Gifts. And my personal favorites these days, The Fly By Night series by Francis Hardinge.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:07 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I read all the Vorkosigan books on a flight, which worked well.
posted by jeather at 9:09 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh sorry, I belive my link takes you to the second book in the series(there are only two so far). Fly by Night is the first. These books are the best kept secrets in YA literature today in my opinion. They are SO funny and entertaining, well written with a well developed fantasy world and great characters.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:10 AM on May 5, 2016

It's a series and not a single book, but the Ben Aaronovitch Peter Grant books are fantastic. They are supernatural police procedurals that take place in present-day London (mostly).
posted by rtha at 9:12 AM on May 5, 2016 [6 favorites]

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao has supernatural elements and is legitimately great.
posted by jferngler at 9:15 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Tana French's Dublin series remind me much more of "Gone Girl" than they remind me of a typical mystery novel, although they are set in a police department. Each novel isn't especially long, but I think there are 5 or 6 of them now.

Jean Auel's Clan of the Cavebear and the following 2 or 3 books in her Earth's Children series are good long ones (but the last couple went of the rails in my opinion).

You might like Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.
posted by Kriesa at 9:41 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Absolutely agree with the Ben Aaronovitch 'Rivers of London' series - you might need the first 3 to be safe.
posted by Heloise9 at 9:46 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just read China Mieville's The City and the City on two flights and loved it. It's a sci-fi / fantasy-esque noir detective novel. I thought it was well-written and very absorbing without needing to be approached as super-cerebral literature.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:50 AM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. You'll be at no risk of getting through them even on a flight to Singapore from the East Coast.
posted by praemunire at 9:52 AM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

There needs to be some sort of supernatural / historical/ other creepy element

Have you read any Kelly Link? I recently have been pointing everyone toward Stranger Things Happen & Get In Trouble because they're brainbendingly good as well as compulsively readable and fun. They've made me miss my subway stop twice (so far).

Kelly Link!
posted by miles per flower at 9:55 AM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you like YA fantasy, you have a looooooot of Tamora Pierce books to get you through your flights.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 10:51 AM on May 5, 2016

11/22/63 is a very engrossing page-turner. Time travel, historical, some creepy elements. Give it a chance, especially if you've never considering reading a Stephen King novel before.
posted by mshrike at 10:51 AM on May 5, 2016 [7 favorites]

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is not YA, but has a young narrator and a YA feel it. I'm reading now and enjoying it.
posted by 26.2 at 10:53 AM on May 5, 2016

The Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka

urban fantasy series set in Camden, London. It follows the story of Alex Verus, a diviner with a dark past who runs a magic shop in the back streets of Camden Town.
posted by Ftsqg at 10:58 AM on May 5, 2016

Have you already read Phillip Pullman? The His Dark Materials Trilogyis fantastic!
posted by stillmoving at 11:13 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

My husband just introduced me to the Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin. The third book is coming out soon, but the first one is very very long, so it should keep you for a while.
posted by pyjammy at 11:25 AM on May 5, 2016

For supernatural/historical/creepy mysteries, definitely check out The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

If you want smart but not too cerebral fantasy, I really liked The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
posted by zeptoweasel at 11:28 AM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Anything by John Green or Rainbow Rowell, particularly Eleanor and Park and The Fault in Our Stars.

I also would recommend Jodi Piccoult's books. You may especially like Second Glance.
posted by guster4lovers at 11:29 AM on May 5, 2016

I just finished All Things Cease to Appear and highly recommend it. It does have a murder aspect to it, but it's not really a murder mystery. Well, it's a murder mystery, ghost tale, love story, and family drama, and it really kept me glued to my seat. People are making comparisons to Gone Girl but I don't think that's fair. I do think, however, that if you liked Gone Girl, you'll love this one.
posted by janey47 at 11:55 AM on May 5, 2016

I would rec Pillars of the Earth to myself and others; sadly I've already read it!

Did you read the sequel, World Without End? Also check out Follett's Century trilogy.
posted by gatorae at 12:04 PM on May 5, 2016

Lisa Unger's books such as Crazy Love and Ink and Bone are suspense with a supernatural element. Look for books that take place in The Hollows.
posted by BibiRose at 12:16 PM on May 5, 2016

I really enjoyed The Little Book, as well as the sequel, The Lost Prince.
posted by notjustthefish at 12:19 PM on May 5, 2016

I'm not a sci-fi reader, but The Age of Miracles has a little bit.
The Dog Stars is a good post-apocalyptic story.
Q is an interesting take on time travel.
posted by superfish at 12:51 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've read a lot of apocalypse stuff in the past few years, but Station Eleven, Age of Miracles, and Vivian Apple at the End of the World (YA, has a second one). Also second the Dana French books - they are sort of mysteries but read more like lit fiction with a bit of ...weirdness.
posted by quadrilaterals at 1:25 PM on May 5, 2016

I'm the sort of person who reads The Stand when I'm sick and McCarthy's The Road (on audio) when I'm on the Jersey Turnpike, so I'll suggest Four Past Midnight because it leads off with The Langoliers.

It's about air travel, but the stuff that happens isn't really stuff that people who are nervous about flying would be real-life worried about.

And the other stories in it are good, too.
posted by Fantods at 3:35 PM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I devoured Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies on a flight a couple of months ago. She is great.
posted by editrixx at 4:22 PM on May 5, 2016

Maybe the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss? (They're listed in reverse order on that page FYI.)

One long one for outbound, one long one for inbound, one short one for some other time!
posted by slenderloris at 4:22 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jo Walton writes a lot of wonderfully engrossing, page-turning fiction. My Real Children is a beautiful novel of alternate history, but it's more about the "road not taken" on a personal scale. It's often described as a light fantasy, but that's not quite right either. Walton's Tooth and Claw is another favorite of mine; it's basically a Victorian novel of courtship, manners, inheritance and the like--but with dragons instead of people!
posted by duffell at 5:26 PM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm gonna do what I always do and recommend The Rook. It's suspenseful, engrossing, and well-written--it grabbed me immediately and did not let go. Plus the sequel is coming out soon!
posted by wintersweet at 6:52 PM on May 5, 2016

How about John Bellairs' YA gothic mystery novels? I like the series with Lewis Barnavelt as the main character, starting with The House With a Clock in its Walls.
posted by illenion at 7:31 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Claire North (aka Catherine Webb) has two novels, with a third on the way this month I think? I burned through both novels. She writes beautifully.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a story told by/about Harry August, a man whose entire life is a sort-of Groundhog Day. He dies, then is re-born at the exact time and place of his previous life, retaining all memories of past lives.
Touch is a story about "Kepler", an entity who used to be a person, but now lives inside the bodies of others. Kepler jumps from body to body with just a touch, leaving the person with no memory of what happened while Kepler was in control.
posted by jraenar at 10:48 PM on May 5, 2016

If you haven't read Ender's Game, read Ender's Game! YA and can be read start to finish on a long flight.
posted by Tevin at 2:08 PM on May 6, 2016

For a recommendation totally out of left field, I would recommend The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy. But this might depend on your personality. Do you like clean and tidy spaces? Do you think positively of going through your closet and getting rid of stuff? Do you like seeing or reading about other people cleaning up their spaces? If so, these books are warm and cozy and glorious.

I also love YA fantasy. Uprooted is pretty good and a Hugo nominee this year. The Night Circus is also a good one.
posted by that girl at 3:56 PM on May 6, 2016

Kingkiller Kingkiller Kingkiller Kingkiller Kingkiller.

Be warned that only two very engrossing books of the trilogy are released, and no one knows when the third will be out. But it's worth it.
posted by taltalim at 8:02 PM on May 11, 2016

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