Reading while traveling is one of my favorite ways to relax and pass the time, especially on long haul flights

The right book can make hours pass in what feels like the blink of an eye. 

Plus, with my Kindle, I never have to stress about how much space I have to carry books on board, and I can easily download a few options before my trip to keep me occupied.

If you’re searching for the perfect in-flight reading material, you’ve come to the right place.

Below I’ve listed some of my favorite books to read on a plane. 

I’ve organized them into categories so that you can find the best match for your needs!

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Best Short Books to Read on a Plane (under 4 hours)

best books to read on a plane

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This coming of age story is young adult fiction at its finest.They adapted the novel into a movie starring Emma Watson in 2012, so some film fanatics may recognize the title.

The story follows Charlie, who’s a bit of a “wallflower” in life, as he navigates that unique time in life between childhood and adulthood. 

It was a New York Times Best-Seller and will have you laughing, crying, and recalling your own awkward teenage years.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

I was originally introduced to this story when I saw the Broadway play by the same name a few years ago. It was a Tony-winning production that was original and out of this world.

I enjoyed it so much that I saw it a total of three times throughout its Broadway run!

So naturally, I was eager to read the original novel on which they based the play.

The story follows Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy with Asperger Syndrome, as he investigates the death of his neighbor’s dog, Wellington. 

 The novel is just as good as the play, and a must-read for anyone who enjoys a good mystery. 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

Elena and Mauro are high school sweethearts from Columbia, who travel to the US after their first daughter is born. 

As violence is mounting in their homeland, they decide it’s worth the risk to stay on in the United States after their tourist visas expire.

I won’t spoil the ending, but this is an impactful and important book.

It can be an intense read, but it’s well worth it, as the story is gripping from beginning to end.

Infinite Country: A Novel
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Florida by Lauren Groff

This series of short stories about mothers and daughters made Barack Obama’s Books of the Year in 2018 for good reason. 

Groff has a unique way of painting pictures with her words in a way that will totally transport you.

Her stories will leave you pondering the depths of human emotions when faced with fear and things that are out of our control. 

All the stories take place in Florida, hence the title, and accurately describe the ways life can be in that state with all the gritty details.

Florida
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Calypso by David Sedaris

Calypso is a collection of 21 semi-autobiographical tales by humorist David Sedaris.

It’s almost guaranteed to entertain you on your travels.

The stories are humorous, even though they mainly focus on his observations about middle age and mortality. 

Each vignette will leave you contemplating life and death in this crazy world that we live in.

His sarcasm and style of writing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you enjoy reading his articles in the New Yorker, chances are you’ll love reading this book. 

Calypso
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Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

This is the tale of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish woman, who crosses the sea to settle in America and make a new life for herself after World War II. 

As you may have guessed based on the title, she settles in a boarding house in Brooklyn, New York

It’s not long until she finds romance with an attractive Italian immigrant. 

I’ll let you read to find out the rest, but just know that is one ending that you may not see coming.

Brooklyn: A Novel
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Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

If you like stories about road trips, then Travels with Charley is a must-read.

The story follows Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley as they drive across the United States.

Steinbeck went out on the open road, after deciding he wanted to get to know the “real America”, the one outside of the major cities that he had spent so much of his life in.

His writing is poetic and beautiful and filled with dark humor. Overall, the novel is a warm, generous look at contemporary American life. 

Also, fair warning, though much of this book was informed by his time on the road, there are parts that have been fictionalized for his story.

Travels with Charley in Search of America
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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Are you looking for an easy read that inspires you to follow your dreams?

Then The Alchemist is the book you need to either download or pick up before your next trip. 

The story follows a Spanish shepherd boy named Santiago, who has recurring dreams of finding gold in the pyramids.

It’s not long before a dream interpreter advises him that these dreams are in fact a prophecy.

So, naturally, he follows the dreams and sets out to find his treasure in the Egyptian pyramids.

This is one novel that will leave you contemplating everything you know and wanting to live life to its fullest.

The Alchemist
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Best Books to Read on Long Journeys

books to read on long plane rides

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians is a satire and romantic comedy that’s so much fun that you’ll want to read it in one sitting. I know I did before I promptly bought the remaining books in the series.

They made the novel into a film in 2018 and became almost an instant worldwide sensation.

In case you aren’t familiar with the storyline, let me break it down for you. 

It’s about an heir to a Singapore fortune, Nicholas Young, who brings his American-born girlfriend, Rachel Chu, home to meet his family.

This is a delightful novel that is juicy, hilarious, and filled with drama.

It’s the perfect read for anyone looking for something that’s light and fun to pass hours on end devouring.

The Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy Box Set
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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Imagine being ordered to spend the rest of your life in a luxury hotel.

It doesn’t sound so bad, right?

Well, Rostov, the principal character in A Gentleman in Moscow, will disagree with you.

It’s shortly after the Russian Revolution and the government has sentenced him to live in the attic of a grand hotel, located right across the street from the Kremlin.

If he steps outside the hotel, they will shoot him on sight.

Based on true events, Towles tells a story that’s satisfying from beginning to end, with characters that are fully realized, right down to their thought-provoking dialogue. 

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel
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Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

Seabiscuit is the story of the ultimate underdog, or in Seabiscuit’s case horse. 

If you’ve never heard of Seabiscuit before, here’s what you need to know—he’s one of the most legendary racehorses in the United States.

He’s the little horse that wasn’t perfect, who had a rider named Red Pollard, who was considered far too tall to be riding him. 

Together they were a couple of misfits who went down in history as a pair of underdogs that inspired a nation and shattered racing records during the 1930s.

Hillenbrand will have you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire tale with her vivid writing style. 

This is easily one of my favorite books, and a must-read, even if you’ve already seen the award-winning film, based on the novel. 

Seabiscuit : The True Story of Three Men and a Racehorse
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The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

I recently binged the Netflix show Bridgerton and quickly was wishing the second season was already in production.

Turns out, they base the series on a popular series of books, Bridgertons, that started with the popularity of the first book, The Duke and I.

If you’ve missed out on this pop-culture phenomenon, here’s what you need to know. 

It’s the story of a Regency-era romance between Daphne Bridgerton, a young lady in London who’s just come out in High Society, and the handsome yet troubled Duke of Hastings.

The book was equally binge-worthy! I’ve already been preaching about it to all my friends who have been going crazy waiting for the next season.

Bridgerton Family Book Series
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Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose

Yes, this is another case of a popular novel being turned into a worldwide sensation, this time thanks to HBO. 

The novel follows the 101st Airborne, also known as E Company, from their jump into France on D-Day up until the end of the war.  

Drawing on hours of interviews with survivors, plus old letters, Ambrose paints a realistic picture of what the war was truly like for the men of E Company. 

This historical novel is one that I believe should be required reading. It sheds a light on the true cost of war. 

The book will stir up many emotions, including extreme sadness, awe, respect, and pride for the men that helped us keep our freedom during World War II. 


Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor is a bit of an odd-ball, who struggles to filter what comes out of her mouth.

She’s a woman who is perfectly content with the routine of life—until she spots the man of her dreams.

Even though the beginning of the plot would lead you to believe otherwise, this isn’t your typical romance. 

Instead, it’s a perfectly balanced read that will challenge your views of what’s “appropriate” and “normal” in life. 

It’s characters are vivid, funny, endearing, sad, and heartfelt, making them the ideal company to pass time with while traveling.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel
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Best Classic Books to Read on a Plane

classic books to read on a plane

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Most consider this short story to be a modern classic.

It’s the tale of a Cuban fisher who has fallen on tough times. After 84 days of catching no fish, he finally hooks and kills a giant Marlin.

What follows is his struggle with the fish and a meditation on life itself.

Hemingway won the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for this novel, which is widely considered one of his greatest. 

It’s a quick and thought-provoking read with lots of symbolism, making it an easy choice for any trip.

The Old Man and the Sea
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Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Speaking of modern classics, Harry Potter is about as modern as they come. If you haven’t read it—what’s wrong with you?!

I’m kidding. Or am I? 

I must admit, I was a total Harry Potter nerd growing up. I went to almost every midnight book release party that happened—-sometimes in costume!

True fans know that even if you’ve read these books before, they’re worth reading again. I’ve even been re-reading Order of the Phoenix recently, after stumbling upon the film on TV the other day. 

These books are comforting reminders of our childhood, layered with the darkness that comes with growing up. 

If you’ve somehow avoided reading the series until now, do yourself a favor and download a few of the books. 

I can almost guarantee that you’ll be sad to see your long-haul flight land, simply because you’ll be dying to know what happens next. 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice has been enchanting readers since it rose to fame in 1813. 

For a tale written so long ago, the romance is still somewhat relatable today. In fact, it’s the first Jane Austen novel I read growing up. 

I fell so in love with the writing and the story over the course of the few days it took me to completely devour this novel.

It’s beautifully written, funny, and filled with characters who feel fully realized, with individual characteristics that make them each unique and relatable. 

This is one story I’ll continue to read again and again. Every time I pick it up I feel I learn a bit more about life and love.

Pride and Prejudice
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The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie

Who wouldn’t be at least a bit intrigued by a tale of an enchanted jewel, a night train from London to the French Riviera, and a mysterious woman?

This is one detective drama with a lot of class, mystery, and intrigue.

You’ll have a great time trying to solve the riddle of who the culprit is before the end of the book.

The Mystery of the Blue Train
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Right, Ho, Jeeves! By P.G. Wodehouse

If you’re looking for a proper British comedy to keep you entertained, look no further than Right, Ho Jeeves! 

It follows Jeeves, a valet who has been advising Gussie Fink-Nottle on matters of the heart during his master Bertie’s absence from London.

Naturally, comedy ensues, leaving the reader entertained throughout the novel.

This is one book that will have you laughing out loud on your flight.

Right Ho, Jeeves
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The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

The Innocents is about Mark Twain’s journey onboard a vessel referred to as “Quaker City”.

Along with a group of American travelers, he ventures through Europe and the Holy Land.

His observations throughout Europe and the Holy Land are hilarious, derogatory, and insightful.

It’s a novel about travel that is perfect for any lengthy plane ride!

The Innocents Abroad
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The Last Chapter

final thoughts books to read on planes

Technology may constantly change, but reading is something that will always be in style when passing time while traveling. 

I hope this list has provided you with lots of inspiration for the next time you need a book to read on a plane.

Kindle Oasis
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