Saturday, September 7, 2013

Airplane books

Hoo boy. It's Saturday. What a week. I don't know about you, but at my Chamber of Horrors place of employment, when the calendar flips from August to September, the casting call goes out for all kinds of crazy. This week did not disappoint. But, most annoyingly, it cut into my time to select a couple of good Airplane Books, but mission accomplished this morning.

Yes, my date and I are sneaking out of town next week, flying the friendly skies to a destination soon-to-be-revealed for one last blast of summer. And I needed a couple of good Airplane Books.

See, along with disgustingly low blood pressure, kick-ass cholesterol levels, premature gray hair and bad feet, I've inherited the Bailey women's (The Mom Unit's side of the family) proclivity toward bad hearing.

That's why good Airplane Books are critical when planning a trip.

Bad hearing is tricky. I'm not so good in crowds and noisy restaurants. And I'm not so good with Whispered Asides, theatrically or otherwise. And I completely suck on airplanes. Airplane conversations are nearly impossible when you only hear every third word.

Me to a fellow traveler: Do you have family in Portland? (Bubble over my head: Why, why, why, am I even bothering?)

What I hear in response on an airplane: Yes. I --- but she --- one eye --- found it --- glove compartment.

Oops. Somehow I think something got lost in the translation.

Fortunately, my date has learned to communicate with me on airplanes using a highly complex and colorful form of mime that would leave Marcel Marceau whimpering like a school girl. He's special that way. But other travelers, not so much. That's why Airplane Books are so critical.

So, here's my M.O. for air travel: Get to my seat -- aisle, please -- crack open a book, smile pleasantly when new seat mates arrive, return to book, look completely engrossed (which, usually, I actually am) and radiate a psychic aura of "Quiet please. I'm reading." Yeah. I'm a barrel of laughs on a long-haul flight.

Anyway. Back to Airplane Books. I usually need a couple -- maybe even three if it's an international flight -- because I'm a speedy reader. E-books have been a revelation after lugging 400-page sagas through airports like Heathrow and Narita. Fiction preferred -- it does a better job of distracting me from my chronic conviction that the plane's left engine just died and the landing gear is stuck.

Here's what's flying out with us on Tuesday:

"Geek Love" (Katherine Dunn) -- a disturbingly delightful/delightfully disturbing book about a very dysfunctional family of carnival freaks. Hey, don't judge. It was a National Book Award finalist. It's going by default because I'm halfway through it and can't put it down.

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" (Ransom Riggs) -- on a remote island off of Wales, a 16-year-old boy finds the crumbling ruins of a home for children "who were more than just peculiar." OK, OK. So I'm in my Twisted Period. Cover says it's a #1 New York Times Bestseller. So there.

And on e-book "At the Bottom of Everything" (Ben Dolnick) -- Per Amazon, "A stunning novel of friendship, guilt, and madness." It got a great shout-out on NPR so I'm in. It was that or "The Daughters of Mars (Thomas Keneally)." Somehow friendship, guilt and madness sounded a little more vacation-y than Gallipoli, field hospitals and World War I. I'll keep you posted.

So, how about you? What's in your carry-on bag these days?
And happy Saturday, by the way!

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