Airport reads

Top 10 Airport Reads

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or you’re excitedly telling the check-in staff that you can’t wait to start that first ever plane ride, it’s always wise to be prepared for the inevitable: waiting at airports.

This can be at the start of your journey or caught in a 12-hour delay between Istanbul and Fiji; either way, having something at hand to mentally and creatively inspire you (and quite possibly keep you awake) is key.

And you’re certainly not short of options – did you know that in 2010 Google counted the official number of books in the world, recording the staggering number of 129,864,880? And that’s not counting e-books, blogs, newspapers and the myriad other publications out there. 

Here we give you our top ten airport reads, covering both books and blogs, that we’ve carefully researched from among Google’s 129 million (well, almost). We’ve also mood matched them to ensure you not only stave off boredom but feel renewed in the process.

On a soul-searching journey?

If you’re on a spiritual quest to understand and love yourself and others around you better, then look no further than Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.

Now, guys, don’t get all hung up on the chick-flick associations following the Julia Roberts movie – the book packs a much darker punch, taking you through the real-life journey of one human being’s pain, darkness and gradual, complete transformation of the self.

The witty, humorous style makes the heavy themes palatable and the book very engrossing –  just make sure you don’t miss your flight!

Looking for a classic love story?

Sometimes only a good old fashioned love story can put the world to rights.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, is sure to set not only pulses but also intellects racing, as Bronte’s lyrical, intense style demands the reader to be fully drawn into the passion-driven plot.

If you have several hours to spare and want to be drawn out of the world of the clean-cut airport lobby into something wild and turbulent, then this one’s for you.

Stressed out parent?

If you’ve got a six hour wait with two toddlers, a baby and a bored spouse all looking at you to entertain them, then check out Sailing with Totem (, a blog about a nomadic sailing family permanently on the high seas, including three kids, two parents, and a beloved boat.

Reading about their adventures, melt downs and daily dynamics will put everything into perspective.

In the mood for magical adventure?

If you’re throwing caution to the wind and heading off into the unknown (e.g. by arriving at the airport and booking the first flight anywhere, particularly favoured by millennials and bucket list-ers of all ages), then you’ll be looking for a fantastic adventure to get you in the mood.

You won’t do better than Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, whose hypnotic magical realism and intense family saga will, literally, make you see the world (or at least the airport) with new eyes.

Worried about flying?

Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will soon put those fears to rest. There’s nothing like following the exploits of the main character after the Earth is wiped out and he is luckily saved by an undercover alien friend, to make you feel very philosophical indeed about what may come.

Adams’ classic cult hit is also sure to make you crack up with laughter – the perfect antidote to any fear.

Starting a new nomadic life?

You’ve sold (and/or rented) your home and possessions, and have taken the plunge into the new and growing community of digital nomads around the world – i.e. people who can work remotely, or pin a location independent basis, and choose to spend their time travelling.

Whether you’re going it solo, in a family or couple, digital nomads’ Simon and Erin’s blog, Neverending Voyage ( heaps of inspiration as well as practical advice on everyday living, including honest accounts of both the pros and cons of life on the road.

Can’t switch off about all the things you have to do?

All too often, we let our work, family and social commitments swirl around our heads, making it difficult to relax and appreciate the brief respite from the ‘real world’ that an airport offers.

If you find yourself in this situation, read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose – it will help you to find focus and calm by inviting you to think about what really matters amid the swirl.

Enjoy people watching?

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (and other books in the series), by Alexander McCall Smith, is the perfect read to help you weave exciting, naughty, silly, funny and dangerous stories in your head about the people sharing the airport with you.

The novel series’ lead character, the formidable Precious Ramotswe’s, has such a keen eye for human character that it would drive Sherlock straight to his opium pipe. With her by your side, nothing will escape you.

Feeling political?

If you’re in the mood for debate and socio-political reflection, get to grips with the award-winning Half of a Yellow Sun, by Ngozi Adichie.

Writing about the Nigerian conflict of 1967, Adichie adeptly brings to life the struggles for love, happiness and survival in the context of a postcolonial power struggle. But be warned – this one is not for the faint hearted.

Just want to smile?

Anything by Roald Dahl – sometimes children’s classics (which inevitably carry very important messages for adults) are the best thing to beat the boredom blues.

Don’t forget that you can access these top ten airport reads electronically, including via online libraries such as Scribd, for a small annual subscription. Happy reading!