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Airport Reading

At the Los Angeles airport, people choose to munch away at restaurants, nap, on a row of seats, hog the electrical jacks to recharge all their gadgets or play video game to kill time until the boarding call. I find a comfortable seat within eye-sight to monitor that might announce gate change and coop up with a book. That book happens to be Howards End by E.M. Forster. This novel is what Forster the name of a great novelist. Like the plots of so many English novels, the story of Howards End is about the rights of property, about a destroyed will-and-testament and rightful and wrongful heirs. The premise and the atmosphere in which I read remind me of the reading experience of The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope, which also concerns the rights of ownership of a heirloom diamond. The two hours at the gate afforded over halfway through the book. Who says classics are not made for on-the-go reading? What do you read when you fly?

(I will attend to your comments and resume reading your blogs. I’ve got a lot to catch up!)

40 Responses

  1. Oh man, I haven’t flown in forever. I take a favorite (or two) to re-read and a couple of new ones that I’m looking forward to reading. I usually have to take a book for each day, just in case and I’ll have all of them in my carry-on. Thank heavens for ebooks 😉

  2. I always take long and large books with me (and usually two rather than one). My flights are usually 12-14 hours long – so I always want to make sure that I don’t finish early.

    Books make airports worthwhile for those of us who not only cannot stand the crowds but fear the flying 😦

  3. Hope you enjoy Howard’s End Matt, it’s a great favourite of mine and being absorbing, also a good airport read!

  4. I don’t have special books for flying. I read whatever I want to read. Since the past May, I would be reading them on my Kindle!

  5. I take massive books with me, as many as possible. When I (inevitably) get searched at the airport, the security people sometimes get this look on their faces when they are taking everything out of my carry-on. Like, lady, you could hijack this plane by whomping people unconscious with these books. 😛

  6. I generally read a book I don’t have to pay strict attention to, mostly because I have flight anxiety.

  7. I will be interested to read your final review. I have never thought about Howards End as being about property. I have always thought of it as tale of class and English social mores, and breaking free from those. Where Angels Fear to Tread, Room with a View, and Maurice all have similar currents running through them.

    As for what I read when I travel, I end up taking 3 or 4 books, not only because I don’t want to run out, but I also worry about my mood changing at 40,000 feet and being left with only one book that (at least temporarily) no longer interests me.

  8. I had to laugh because I too am waiting in airports this morning, whiling away the time by reading. I brought along one classic and three other books for review, finished one while on my first flight and hope to get a good way through the classic. I read anything while traveling and usually bring way too many books in fear that I will finish everything before I arrive back home.

  9. I don’t go jetting about all that often, but when I do, I always bring a book. Generally whatever I’m already reading… on my last trip that happened to be a Classic, Jane Eyre, and I enjoyed it quite a lot!

  10. I’m the same as sagustocox. I’ll read a book waiting in the terminal but once on board, I can’t concentrate on a book because I have flight anxiety. Usually I’ll read a magazine or flip through the SkyMall for the 483920482nd time.

  11. I like to bring a bunch of paperbacks so if I finish them (or don’t like them) I can leave them behind on the trip.

  12. I find that Jane Austen is a wonderful travelling companion. Also, The Dubliners short stories by James Joyce. These are works I like to re-read from time to time. I think Howard’s End is one of Forster’s best works. I’m looking forward to more of your thoughts. The Schlegel sister’s interaction with Leonard Bast is, for me, part and parcel of the significant core of the work.

  13. I always take two books (usually one in English and one in Finnish) with me when I travel abroad, and if I’m travelling solo I always read while waiting to board the plane and also during the flight. Last time I flew abroad I took Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell and the Finnish translation of Johanthan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke with me. The latter was not a very typical flight book for me as I tend to choose books that are literally light, i.e. do not weigh a lot :), as I always end up buying books on my travels!

    Greetings,
    Tiina

  14. How wonderful that you can find calm amidst the chaos of an airport. I think getting lost in a good book is the perfect way to do it. When I travel I tend to distract more easily and tend to read the NY Times or something lighter for my waiting hours in the airport.

  15. I don’t read anything different when I fly than I read the rest of the time…I just make sure there’s more of it so I never end up on a plane and without a book!

    Have never read Howard’s End but know I’ll get to it someday. It’s a must!

  16. Gina (BookDragon’s Lair):
    I know ebook would solve the problem of lugging around books, and I’ve been considering buying one. I also look for local bookstore in case I need extra books. 🙂

  17. lena:
    In my flights to Hong Kong, I need two good books to kill time. I have the habit to start a book before I get on the plane because a book that has captured my attention will sustain my interest reading in on the plane.

  18. adevotedreader:
    I do enjoy Howards End but I have yet make of all the talks about class, gentility and intelligentsia. I know something is bound to come up to shake me all over! 🙂

  19. Sandy:
    I think the whim will serve me well also. I do have to know what the books are about before I take them on the plane with me. 🙂

  20. Jenny:
    That’s hilarious! I tend to pack books in my checked bags when I fly long haul; I also stuff any many I can take on the personal bag. Paperbacks are made for travel and I thank god for them! 🙂

  21. sagustocox:
    Hmm I find reading (a good book) can be a great distraction from flight anxiety.

  22. Thomas:
    The book actually deviates from property as I read on, shifting more toward the greater scope of what defines class and gentility.

    As to “bookproofing” the flight, I would start a book the day before the flight and make sure it’s up my alley, or at least that the book will sustain my interest during the flight. I also bring extra books in case mood changes. 🙂

  23. Michelle:
    I always bring more books than I need in case I have run out of stuffs to read, my mood changes, and a book begins to lose steam. I always look for bookstores when I’m away so I can replenish! 🙂

  24. Steph:
    You and I seem to have the same habit when it comes to reading and flying. 🙂

  25. Kari:
    In that case, magazines might help. I also recommend reading lighter fiction that doesn’t require much concentration. 🙂

  26. Ellen:
    I should start “bookcrossing” next time I fly, leaving behind books that I either don’t finish or have lost interest. 🙂

  27. Greg S:
    Leonard Bast so far has been somewhat of a mystery. He seems to care more for his soul than his person. I thought Ruth Wilcox, who has died prematurely, at age 51, and who has bequeathed Howards End to margaret, the soul of the novel. She seems to have perceived the fullest of what it means to live.

  28. Tiina:
    I like your balanced recipe in picking books for travel. Sometimes I do need a change of pace and I have to take up a lighter book especially during a long-haul.

  29. Kathleen:
    NY Times can be good reading material–the paper can last through an entire flight. I have heard so many horror stories about transiting in LAX but (touch wood) all my travels through that airport have been smooth.

  30. Rebecca @ The Book Lady’s Blog:
    Howards End to E.M. Foster is like The Great Gatsby to F. Scott Fitzgerald. So you’ve gotta read it! 🙂
    I bring what I’m reading with me when I fly, plus a few others that I know will sustain my interests.

  31. I don’t take anything special. Just books that I think I may get done that don’t require a lot of attention because I like to people watch!!! 🙂

  32. Depends on where I am going. I just returned from Honduras and for the plane I have Jantsens Gift, Children of Dust, Love Has A Face….

    I really themed it with books about kids in need.

  33. Living in Hong Kong I travel all the time, and always fly. Usually I have with me lighter fare. I get caught up on The Economist (Magazine) that always carries too many insightful articles every week to cover at home. Then I take one short read (often a novel) and one huge read (most recently The Wilderness Warrior by Douglas Brinkley). The Victorinox travel bag I use fits all of this reading material perfectly. That’s why I bought the bag!

  34. I always bring two books when I fly: Guns, Germs, and Steel and one easy-ish book. Unfortunately my flying has been minimal of late; hence my inability to finish GG and S.

  35. Staci:
    I don’t have as long an attention span as I do on the ground. It’s probably the crammed space. Like sometimes I don’t know where to rest my elbows so not to nudge the person next to me.

  36. Bookjourney:
    I used to sponsor a child in Honduras until he reached early adulthood. Books that serve the purpose for the trip must be extra enlightening.

  37. Mark A. Swallow:
    Hooray another reader from my hometown!!! The Economist would keep me occupied for hours on long-haul. When I fly to Hong Kong, I need two chunky books to while away the flight. Usually I pick an Anthony Trollope (or any classics that doesn’t boggle my mind) and a lighter contemporary book.

  38. Trisha:
    Do you only read that book when you fly? I might apply this idea for reading collection of short stories. 🙂

  39. Oddly enough I do only read it when I fly. I didn’t make that decision consciously but about a year ago it just sort of happened. I don’t know why I can’t bring myself to pick it up when I’m at home… 🙂 I think it’s a great idea for a short story collection!

  40. I have always enjoyed reading EM Forster. I had a huge anthology of his work that I read over and over again in high school. Have not read them in a very long time. Might have to pull out that book again.

    I like to read easy, fast-paced thrillers while on the plane. Usually mass-market paperbacks I find in the airport bookstore. 🙂

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