Frequent business traveler flier Margaret Bowles disregards in-flight entertainment options and pulls out her Kindle on nearly every flight.
Bowles, a lawyer in Winter Park, is now reading Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander – one of more than 60 books she has read while flying during the last 18 months.
“I absolutely love to read, and the only chance I get to do it is while I am on a plane,” she says.
Reading a book makes travel enjoyable for many frequent fliers. It can make them appreciate the free time afforded by constant air travel and make them forget the associated stress and discomfort. It also may lead to some interesting interactions with strangers.
Bowles says she likes to travel with “well-written fiction” such as Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk, 600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster and Mattie by Judy Alter.
When flying to a country she hasn’t previously visited, she brings along a book about the country.
“I went to Peru and bought a book about the history of Peru,” she recalls. “It made the trip more enjoyable.”
Ben Griffith, a lawyer in Cleveland, Miss., says he brings five or six downloaded Kindle books on the language, customs and history of the place he is visiting. “Even if your grammar and pronunciation are not perfect, your hosts will appreciate the effort,” he says.
Reading books – especially on the plane, train and at dinner – makes the time pass by much quicker and is relaxing, says Gene Jannotti, a consultant in Garwood, N.J.
Jannotti says he usually eats alone on the road and takes a book to dinner to pass the time between courses.
Carrying a book while traveling often spurs conversations with strangers, many business travelers say.
Jannotti says he was holding a James Patterson novel when he walked into a restaurant and the maitre d’ remarked that he had read the same book.
“I told him he couldn’t have read the same book and then opened the cover to show him James Patterson’s autograph,” Jannotti says. “Needless to say, he escorted me to a very nice table and came by several times to be sure that I was happy with the food and the service.”
Allen Crockett of Archer Lodge, N.C., says he was reading the Bible on his iPad during a flight four years ago, and a seatmate began a debate about evolution. “We had some spirited discussions,” says the vice president in the medical sales industry.
Though many business travelers laud Kindles and other electronic devices for assisting their book-reading passions, frequent flier Bailey Allard laments their use.
Allard, a consultant in Chapel Hill, N.C., says she used to enjoy walking down an airplane aisle seeing what books in the hands of passengers were popular. She remembers being impressed by the number of adults – particularly businessmen – reading Harry Potter, for example.
“Seatmate conversation was often sparked by seeing your seatmate reading a book that you had read,” Allard says. “It was an opportunity for two traveling strangers to connect in conversation of mutual reading enjoyment.”
Frequent flier Claudia Tessier of Malden, Mass., says reading a book in-flight put her in her “own world” where she cares little about the discomforts of travel.
“I sometimes discover we have taken off or landed without my being aware of it,” the health-care informatics consultant says.
For a long flight, Tessier recommends the Life of Pi by Yann Martel. “It’s engaging and will keep your mind off the discomforts of travel, but you won’t finish it in one flight,” she says.
Another recommendation is Wild by Cheryl Strayed, an “interesting record of her solo hike along the Pacific Coast Trail and her personal journey recovering from the loss of her mother and a failed marriage.”
Business traveler Marion Kruse of Powell, Ohio, says books like The Hunger Games and “the entire Percy Jackson series” are fun reads in-flight that provide “a great mental escape.”
“Reading keeps me sane during long waits in airports and on tarmacs,” says the health-care consultant. “It is very relaxing and keeps me from getting irritated with the craziness of air travel.”
Matthew Brush, who works in the railroad industry and lives in Wilton, Conn., says he is currently reading Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis. The book is an interesting analysis of the American political and military situations in 1776, and “its compact size makes it a great travel book,” he says.
“Reading on the road affords me the opportunity to think about problems unrelated to work challenges, to refresh myself by focusing on something new and challenging, and sometimes to learn how others have overcome business, personal or political challenges.”
Though reading in-flight can provide many rewards, it can also be a short-term annoyance, Bowles says.
“The only thing I don’t like is having to shut the Kindle down on takeoff and landing,” she says. “It’s very irritating to have to read the SkyMall magazine – or whatever airline magazine is in the back of the seat.”
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