On Sunday night, my Eurostar train from Paris Gare du Nord to London St. Pancras came to an unexplained halt in Calais. I’ll explain why in further detail at a later date, as it seems tasteless to do so in this blog post. Nevertheless, we didn’t move or receive any explanation for over three hours.
There was waiting and noise and confusion and all the while, A Moveable Feast sat open in my lap, Hemingway’s words still lingering in my thoughts. I felt incredibly grateful for my book.
Because no matter where you are – in dire straits (I was that kid who told everyone I’d bring my copy of Harry Potter to a deserted island with me), waiting out delays, or just on a leisurely train ride, it always helps to have a good book.
Alors, these are some of my favorites books to survive long plane and train rides:
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
How could I not? Besides, when did reading a classic novel become pretentious? You may not enjoy Hemingway’s style, as it is quite unique, and perhaps an acquired taste, but I find the near stream of consciousness in A Moveable Feast addictive. His deceptively simple prose make for an easy read, particularly when you’re squashed in an uncomfortable airplane seat and concentrating for long periods of time. But then – suddenly – a paragraph or snippet of dialogue will make you stop and read and reared to absorb the rhythm of the prose. And there’s a satisfying beauty in that.
But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong, nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
Similar to classics, there’s no shame in enjoying a book others may consider “lowbrow.”
For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently working on a six-book series of fantasy YA books (two chapters away from the end of the first book!). So it should be no surprise that I love a well-written magical series. Honestly, I was a tad hesitant to delve into anything written by Chris Colfer (Glee actor) because I foolishly assumed that his stardom propelled his novels to publication. Once I gave the books a chance though, I became instantly hooked. Colfer has recreated classic fairy tales with more complexity and fascination than any retelling I’ve come across. They’re perfect to read right before falling asleep.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Prepare yourself for a poignant, culturally fascinating story that begins in Afghanistan, 1952, and weaves its way through different times and characters.
Cleopatra – A Life by Stacy Schiff
Cleopatra has always been an enigmatic figure in history. For years I found her elusive and fascinating without fully understanding why. This Pulitzer-prize winning biography depicts a more human, complex figure than any other source I’ve come across.
Sepulchre by Kate Mosse
Although technically the second book in the Languedoc Series, you needn’t read Labyrinth to understand Sepulchre. They involve entirely separate characters and story lines. Sepulchre begins in Paris, 1891, and transitions back and forth between the past and the present, where two sets of characters intersect and collide, so as to solve a mystery that has been lurking in the south of France for over 100 years. Part mystery, love story, ghost story, and historical fiction, the narrative admittedly gets muddled at times, but I loved it all the same.
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Looking for a book to celebrate cozy, foamy drinks and the golden reds of fall? Add First Frost to your bookshelf. I’ve always been attracted to Sarah Addison Allen’s unique, almost lyrical writing voice. She creates interesting, complex characters in classic southern American towns, focusing mostly on female relationships, with just a sprinkle of mystery and magical realism. Perfect.
I hope you enjoy your books! Leave a comment in the space below if you have any other recommendations.
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