For all the pleasures of travel we’re missing at the moment, one is definitely picking up a good novel from the airport, and spending the whole 4 hour journey thoroughly engrossed in who murdered Ratchett.
Yes, long transit times are an opportunity to catch up on all sorts of reading, whether it be school work, business, or to improve your skills related to a hobby or interest, though you really can’t beat a good novel.
One of our best packing tips is to ditch the paperback and to travel with a kindle, but as physical book people sometimes we just can’t help the lure of the feel and scent of those post-press pages.
Regardless of your reading style though, the bestsellers we list below are fantastic, classic reads for escaping to an entirely different world during those long journeys and otherwise bore-some transits!
Classic Novels to Read on Long Journeys / Transit
Where the Crawdads Sing
One of those all-time favorites for an individual on the move is Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdads Sing, about a ‘Marsh Girl’ who becomes entangled in a possible murder.
Protagonist Kya Clark is abandoned by her parents and siblings as a small child, yet she succeeds in making a satisfying life for herself in the marsh surrounded by significant natural beauty. Growing up in the marsh she finds friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand.
The pages of the book are a gripping tale of suspected murder and romance, but if you’ve studied biology, anatomy, ornithology, botany and any other such scientific fields, you, like me, will wish you could actually see the magnificent collections of birds’ feathers, nests and other collectables she assembles which end up described and photographed in the published books of her adulthood.
Available on Amazon as a hard cover, audiobook or for Kindle.
If you’ve ever picked up a Val McDermid at the train station bookshop en route to boarding, and you enjoyed it, you’re in for a treat – there are 39 more on offer!
The latest, Still Life, sees the village fishermen pulling a corpse out of the sea; and the body turns out to be that of the prime suspect in a decade-old investigation concerning the disappearance of a prominent civil servant.
It’s the job of Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie to solve this mystery, together with another related to a skeleton in a campervan. Will she be able to uncover the secrets, replace the lies with truths and bring any killer still out there to justice?
Available from a variety of online stores at Good Reads, where you can also enter a competition to win a print copy.
The Handmaid’s Tale
If Canadian author Margaret Atwood has been on your targeted list since childhood, but you’ve not yet gotten your hands on The Handmaid’s Tale, what are you waiting for?
Set in the imagined state of Gilead, the novel explores the theme of women being kept under the thumb of their male subjects in an unfairly patriarchal society, and the progress made by women within this society to push through and strive for equality.
Of interest is the fact that The Handmaid’s Tale has scored a Governor’s General Award and an Arthur C Clarke Award; and can be watched in the form of a TV series, which was created in 2017.
Image: TitiNicola / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons
Not only for the gay market is the “inventive, cute and glittery” Camp, described in review as “a masterful mix of rom-com hijinks, theater refs, queer history and gender theory”, and one of the best books of 2020.
Written by LC Rosen, this author’s perfect recall is reminiscent of Judy Blume’s and the book will delight in its ability to create a queer-friendly vibe (i.e summer camp at Camp Outland) and the platform for 16-year-old Randy to catch the eye of his love interest, the macho Hudson.
The innuendo sprinkled throughout will keep you in giggles, but there are also strong messages; Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love.
Available on Amazon in hardcover and audiobook, and for Kindle.
Running with Sherman
For those of us who’ve been training on the spot in our living rooms, with a range of online classes to keep us going, a book like Christopher McDougall’s Running with Sherman will skyrocket you out of any rut and onto the start line of a 10, 21 or even 42km race as soon as these open up in your region.
Think Sherman is a running guru? Yes, indeed. This neglected donkey is restored to health by the author, and the two begin a physical and meditative journey of burro racing through the canyons and mountains of the United States.
Reviews describe this novel as “influential”, “inspirational”, “insightful” and the best tonic this decade to get you lacing up your trainers when you step off the plane.
Available in hardcover from Good Reads, where you can also take a squiz at fellow readers’ running queries and insightful reviews.
Anything by Bill Bryson
Armchair travel may have felt frustrating when we were all confined to our own backyards but, now that the world is opening up again, a novel penned by the prolific Bill Bryson may be just the ticket to get you excited about life all over again.
Anything is not the title here, in this case we’re genuinely recommending anything he’s written!
You may wish to skip over The Body and When Things Go Wrong: Diseases right now if the pandemic we’ve just lived through still feels too close for comfort, but how about getting stuck into Notes From A Small Island, Made In America or Bill Bryson’s African Diary for a range of hilarious insights into life in places that are not necessary home to you.
Or even At Home: A Short History of Private Life, for those who get nostalgic for their own four walls as soon as they head off abroad. Available from Amazon as a paperback, hardcover or audiobook, or get the download for Kindle.
A Final Word
A last note on the travel-ready reading material above (and other books of their ilk): these page-turners will let you go on a journey without moving your feet, and let you live several lives during their course.
You won’t feel alone in a sea of strangers, and the treasures they provide will just keep coming as your eyes scan over the letters and your brain ingests the words. Enjoy!