Five Carry-On Reads to Enjoy on a Plane

Lightweight and Inspirational Reads Perfect for Plane Travel
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Five Carry-On Reads to Enjoy on a Plane

Five Carry-On Reads to Enjoy on a Plane

Whether you’re flying cross country to see family and friends or heading out on an international trip, these five reads make a perfect carry-on! Not too lengthy or plot-heavy, the books on this list are easy to jump back into when the snack cart or pilot’s announcement distracts you momentarily. Here’s why these five carry-on reads to enjoy on a plane make great reads.

1. The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu by Katja Pantzar (272 Pages) 

The Finnish Way: One of our five books to enjoy reading on a plane. A light blue cover with a variety of drawn pictures such as trees, mountains, and food. Includes title and author. 

Image via Barnes & Noble

Katja Pantzar, writer and winter swimmer, shares with readers some of the simple, nature-inspired ways she’s found joy and good health. Upon moving to Finland, Pantzar quickly set out to discover the Finns’ secret to a simpler and sweeter existence. She wrote The Finnish Way as a guide sharing some of the Finns’ daily practices such as swimming in icy waters and foraging for berries. The Finnish concept sisu encompasses “a unique strength of will, a determination to not give up or take the easy way out”. In this memoir-meets-guide, Pantzar tells how she discovered sisu and lights a fire in her readers to discover it for themselves 

As you set off for your travels, this book will simultaneously take you on a personal journey to discover how to enjoy a trip or a life filled with more perseverance, presence, and gratitude. Pantzar covers a variety of topics such as forest therapy, healthy eating, and movement as medicine. Enjoy the book in one sitting or bounce around from chapter to chapter to read what most intrigues you while on your flight. You’ll learn about the special kind of courage and grit that Finns embrace and if you’re lucky, you’ll be ready to embrace a bit of that yourself as the plane lands at your newest destination. 

2. Soul Trash, Space Garbage by Michelle Awad (126 pages)

Soul Trash, Space Garbage: a poetry collection to enjoy reading while flying. White painting of a seated woman facing away against a purple space cover. Includes title and author. 

Image via Barnes & Noble

If you have read some of my other reviews, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve included a couple of poetry books in this roundup. If you don’t typically read poetry and are tempted to discount the couple listed here, Michelle Awad’s work is a wonderful place to start. 

Relatable, accessible, and beautiful, this collection will resonate with you long after the plane has landed. The sections of this collection are titled after three types of star death, and Awad uses the metaphor of each to explore life, love, change, growth, and above all, hope. Having taken inspiration and chosen titles from articles about space, Awad will surprise you with a galaxy of emotion in Soul Trash, Space Garbage. Below is just a taste of the debut collection:

Image via Soul Trash, Space Garbage

3. St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell (208 pages)

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves: the third book in our travel series to read while traveling by plane. Two gray wolves standing on green grass against a dark cloudy sky. Includes title and author. 

Image via Barnes & Noble

From the “comfort” of your assigned seat and within the pages of this book, you’ll travel to the fantastical swamps of the Florida everglades. Whether that’s your actual destination or not, this collection of short stories will take you deep into imagined worlds where a little girl becomes trapped inside a giant conch shell while on a field trip and daughters of werewolves attempt to learn how to live in the human world. 

Short story collections like this are especially great for domestic flights. If you’ll arrive at your destination within a few hours, then settle down in Seat 30F with this book and enjoy some vivid storytelling without worrying about leaving a novel unfinished when deboarding the plane. Whether you make it through all ten short stories or just a couple, you’ll be wowed by Russell’s creative imagination and otherworldly plots. 

4. How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) by Barbara Kingsolver (128 pages)

How To Fly: one of five books to read when traveling by plane. A cover of open water against a blue sky. Includes author and title. 

Image via Barnes & Noble

I was introduced to Barabara Kingsolver during my college years while studying both writing and biology. She’s well known for depicting the connections between nature and humans, and while I love some of her novels for that reason, it’s this collection of poems that captured my heart while on a trip with my sister and has stayed with me long since we made it back home. 

In this poetry collection, Kingsolver touches on so many different themes like marriage and divorce, family heritage and growing old, traveling, and of course, flying. (Believe it or not, this pick didn’t make the roundup because of its title but it does seem to work well.)

I’m confident you’ll be glued to these pages as I was and will thus have plenty of time to read through the collection before your flight lands, but just in case, here are a few favourites I recommend:

  • How To Lose That Stubborn Weight (p.11)
  • How To Get A Divorce (p.12) 
  • X. On The Train To Sicily (p. 30)

5. Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff (240 pages)

Love Does: the fifth book in this travel series roundup to read while on a plan. A blue cover with colorful balloons floating up across it. Includes title and author. Five Carry-On Reads to Enjoy on a Plane

Image via Barnes & Noble

A childlike excitement and hope of endless possibilities tend to accompany me on most trips, and I chose to include Love Does for the similar type of feelings it evokes. With each chapter, Goff tells a different story from his life. From meeting with clients in his unofficial office on Tom Sawyer Island in Disneyland to becoming a diplomat for the Republic of Uganda, tales of Goff’s adventures will leave you stunned, amused, and craving a life of your own that’s filled with a little more whimsy, best summarized in the following quote:

“There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time. I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. It doesn’t come in an envelope. It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live.” 

If you’re looking for a little trip hype and some carpe diem energy before you land at your destination, this is the book of unbelievable stories and sweet inspiration to pack in your carry-on. 

From poetry and practical guides to fantastical fiction and inspiring memoirs, the books in this roundup can be enjoyed in small doses or as red-eye binges. Have a carry-on read of your own to suggest packing for the plane? Let us know here

Taylor Stawecki is a 20-something Michigander with a love for the great outdoors and written word. She spends her weekdays working for a digital marketing company and as a freelance copywriter. In her free time, you can find her reading, writing poetry, running, watching a Grey’s Anatomy rerun, or spending time with her family and friends.  As an old soul, she enjoys collecting salt and pepper shakers and cuddling up in oversized sweaters.

Favorite Book: If I have to choose, The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball
Favorite Brunch Spot: Rochester Brunch House

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