Books please?
July 3, 2007 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a few great books for a 10+ hour flight. I love Sophie's World, Lolita, 1984 and investigative journalism.

I wandered around the bookstore and was having trouble finding anything that looked good. Help me out mefi's! Nothing that is too terribly hard to get into, please. I don't want to be struggling to figure out whats going on while babies and crying and people are snoring.
posted by thebrokenmuse to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and a short description wouldn't be frowned upon!
posted by thebrokenmuse at 4:31 PM on July 3, 2007

Seymour Hersh's books might interest you the Abu Ghraib book is depressing and might make you angry, but it is a good book.

What sort of stuff do you like in investigative journalism and non-fiction?
posted by sien at 4:34 PM on July 3, 2007

For fiction, I am currently reading The Emperor of Ocean Park, and it is excellent.
posted by yclipse at 4:36 PM on July 3, 2007

You like Lolita but have you read anything else by Vladimir Nabokov? For plane reading, I would suggest either the compilation of all of his short stories or Pnin. (the former are all clever and usually easy to get into, the latter is fun to read and tricky - on face value it is about a Russian transplanted to the USA who becomes a professor and all of the misfortunes that befall him.)

This is an interesting sort of investigative journalism genre book that is quite engrossing but probably would not be the best choice to take on a plane considering the USA today.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 4:40 PM on July 3, 2007

You might like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Future dystopian parables (like 1984) are absorbing to me. See also Ender's Game, Brave New World. All easy, absorbing reads and at those lengths, you might squeeze in all three. I've got Children of Men on my nightstand, so I can recommend it as I have to myself, but I haven't cracked it yet,
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:45 PM on July 3, 2007

Oh, and Reading Lolita in Tehran might appeal to you. When I read it, I only read the sections corresponding to the works I ws familiar with. It's personal journalism of a kind.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:54 PM on July 3, 2007

I recommend "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets" by David Simon, creator of the HBO show "The Wire". For more information about the book, take a look at the wikipedia entry.
posted by caelumluna at 5:03 PM on July 3, 2007

I just suggested this to someone else in a book thread, but if you like Lolita, check out Ada, or Ardor.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:09 PM on July 3, 2007

I love ... investigative journalism

The One Percent Doctrine

But seriously folks ... If you don't like reading Soon I Will Be Invincible, you have no sense of fun and are rapidly growing old.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:15 PM on July 3, 2007

I dont know if it fits your requirements, but you might like Stiff: The curious lives of human cadavers, by Mary Roach. Not really investigative journalism, more like a comedic documentary about all the sorts of things having to do with human cadavers, in the past, present and near future. It's well suited for a long ride where you might be distracted occasionally. It's also quite entertaining.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 5:57 PM on July 3, 2007

Seconding Homicide, and I think The Corner by Simon & Ed Burns is even better (if that's even possible).
posted by subclub at 6:07 PM on July 3, 2007

The Fifties, by David Halberstam. It explains a lot!
posted by bleeb at 6:10 PM on July 3, 2007

How about Barbarians at the Gate
posted by iamabot at 6:12 PM on July 3, 2007

You might enjoy Not In Kansas Anymore by Christine Wicker. The author is a religion reporter who isn't very religious and doesn't really believe in magic, but is curious about others who do believe. She rides around with a guy who takes her to visit the grave of Zora Neale Hurston so they can get some grave dirt as a magical ingredient, goes to a vampire ball, interviews's entertaining and interesting.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:16 PM on July 3, 2007

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is a good airplane read. Fun to read, long, and quite interesting.
posted by nitsuj at 6:18 PM on July 3, 2007

If you liked both Lolita and 1984 I must recommend Nabokov's Bend Sinister.

It is essentially about an eminent philosopher who succumbs to madness amid personal grief and the crushing atmosphere of a totalitarian, anti-intellectual state. The book is darkly comic and the prose is archetypically Nabokov, which of course makes it a joy to read. Bring something else to read, because you'll definitely finish it on the flight.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:21 PM on July 3, 2007

I really enjoyed reading The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life. It's basically a series of discussions between French rationalist philosopher Jean-Francois Revel and his son Mathieu Ricard who left a career as a molecular biologist to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk. I found it a fascinating read.
posted by oilygoily at 6:24 PM on July 3, 2007

If you liked Sophie's World, I definitely recommend Maya by the same author.
posted by logic vs love at 6:42 PM on July 3, 2007

"Stiff" is a great book, and so is I Sleep At Red Lights , which is also hilarious... I personally love everything Cormac McCarthy, his newest being The Road, but another good intro to Cormac might be No Country for Old Men - now a Cohen Brothers movie due out in September, so get a jump on the novel now! You have read Fast Food Nation haven't you? Schlosser is a great writer, and Reefer Madnessis another well written critique. Oh, and if you like sports, check out Michael Lewis' The Blind Side or Watching Baseball Smarter a surprisingly good little book.

Have a great trip!
posted by sneakyalien at 7:11 PM on July 3, 2007

I recently read and adored Paul Auster's The Music of Chance. Fascinating story of a poker game gone horribly wrong.

If you're a fast reader, I'd recommend Number 9 Dream, by David Mitchell, currently my favorite author. An amazing confluence of narrative threads, all leading up to a very worthwhile ending. I'm looking forward to re-reading this one.

Finally, I'm rediscovering the joys of Douglas Adams. I'm currently digging on the first Dirk Gently book. Can't go wrong there.
posted by jbickers at 7:45 PM on July 3, 2007

Gospel. It's huge and really great.
posted by marylynn at 8:10 PM on July 3, 2007

A few past questions that may help out:
Stock-my-liberry (the best sort of berry!)

On a side note, I wish I had the technical know-how to build some sort of system for combing the site and by counting the respective references of author/novel come up with some sort of weighted list of what mefi recommends. I imagine we could expand this to movies, music, sex positions, etc. Why, in time his ever adjusting list could be expanded to completely replace free will.


Forget the last part. *strokes white cat*
posted by oxford blue at 8:27 PM on July 3, 2007 [3 favorites]

Following up on Ambrosia Voyeur - I haven't read The Handmaid's Tale, but I loved Oryx and Crake.
posted by lukemeister at 8:43 PM on July 3, 2007

Hmm ... I'm surprised we've gotten this far in the thread without someone mentioning Truman Capote's __In Cold Blood_ As far as investigative journalism, it's right there at the top of the all time greats. But you probably know that already.
posted by bananafish at 8:57 PM on July 3, 2007

Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc.

Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
by Jeremy Scahill.

Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor
by Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh.

I'm starting HOMICIDE: A YEAR OF KILLING IN THE STREETS in a just a few minutes. (I'm a huge fan of THE WIRE so I ended up checking out the book from the library thanks to a rash of recent recommendations here at AskMeFi.)

On a ten hour flight, I would also bring along some well written magazines (Harper's, The Nation, The New Yorker, etc) because - in my opinion - it would be really hard to read more than one book in that environment. Unless they were really good books...
posted by cinemafiend at 9:23 PM on July 3, 2007

Stephen King's Carrie does a nice job of blending newspaper articles with prose. I won't bother with a plot synopsis since everyone knows what the story is, but the book is worth reading, and it goes by quick.

I'd also recommend A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne, about a young girl whose small town is shocked by an act of violence.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 9:32 PM on July 3, 2007

I always recommend Devil in the White City for airplane reading. Part of what made it so engaging to me is that the story switches between the true story of a Chicago killer and the development/history of the Chicago's World Fair. The intersections between the plots are fascinating, the structure is incredibly well-developed, and I learned a ton.
posted by juliplease at 8:09 AM on July 4, 2007

Pulitzer winner Middlesex was a great transatlantic plane read for me -- easy to get into and very engrossing. Bonus: found it at an airport bookstore.

I read Stasiland: True Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall on a recent trip -- it fits your investigative journalism bill and was very engaging (if depressing).

Ian McEwan is my new favorite fiction author, but some of his books aren't plane reading (I actually had to put Atonement down, as the super-long descriptive stretches without dialogue couldn't hold up to the cabin activity). But, both Saturday and Enduring Love start with a bang and the plots propel themselves nicely.

And, an Nth for Homicide -- excellent documentary-style non-fiction.
posted by pineapple at 10:57 AM on July 4, 2007

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