12 Amazing Books You Can Finish In A Single Flight

Sometimes, taking an airplane trip can be fun. If you’re going on vacation you’re likely bursting with excited energy and seemingly have nowhere to put it.

Other times, airplane trips can be less exciting. When you’re taking a trip for work you may just be looking for a way to pass the long hours sitting down and doing nothing. 

12 Amazing Books You Can Finish In A Single Flight

No matter your reasons for taking an airplane, no matter your destination, you will likely be looking for something to do on your travels.

Luckily, you have come to the right place. 

There are many books out there that you can finish in a single flight, no matter if the journey is long or short.

In this article, I have collected 12 amazing books that I love to read on flights.

Some of these books are introspective and thought-provoking, some are emotional, and some are fun and gripping, but all can be read in no time at all!

So, if you have some air miles you’re planning on using and are looking for a good book to make the journey go by swiftly, then read on!

12 Amazing Books You Can Finish In A Single Flight

Elevation By Stephen King


Stephen King is famous for many works, including IT, Misery, The Shining, and much more!

However, he is also famous for writing many short stories and shorter novels, some of which you can easily finish in a single flight! One of these short novels is Elevation. 

Elevation tells the story of Scott Carey, an ordinary man who learns he has a condition that has negative effects on his body: he is losing weight, but not mass, and his friend and retired doctor Bob Ellis cannot figure out why. 

While dealing with this, Scott also gets involved in helping out his neighbors, a lesbian couple who are trying to open a restaurant in a neighborhood that discriminates against them. 

Pretty soon, they are working together to challenge the discrimination in the town.

Because of this, on top of his deteriorating health, Scott learns some important lessons about love and life. 

This book deals with themes of homophobia, illness, friendship, and life. Despite dealing with serious themes, this is a lighthearted, fun read that will allow you to feel uplifted. 


  • Well-written characters with great character development 
  • A fun, light-hearted read when you want to lift your spirits


  • The dialogue is a little weak

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer By Fredrick Backman

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: A Novella

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And Longer is a wonderful novella perfect for starting and finishing on a short flight.

Be warned, though, this is an emotional read that may have you shedding a tear or two, so you may want to be in the window seat for that extra bit of privacy. 

This novella centers around an elderly gentleman who is finding it difficult to hold onto memories.

The story is told through his inner monologue and descriptions of what it is like to be between life and death.

The story also centers around the family of the elderly gentleman, who are trying to take care of him and come to terms with having to let him go. 

This is a profound story that deals with the importance of spending quality time with the ones you love as well as learning how to let go and say goodbye.

Even though this is a deeply emotional read, it is also in parts, an uplifting story that you will be glad you have read (and you’ll likely want to read again!) 



  • Some people may find Backman’s writing style confusing 

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower By Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a cult classic that you can easily read in one sitting. This is a coming-of-age story and an emotional read.

After reading this story, I can almost guarantee you will feel a sense of nostalgia for your own high school days.

The story follows Charlie, a high schooler and wallflower.

Charlie observes the world around him as he tries to learn all he can about the weird space between being an adolescent and an adult.

Through Charlie, we meet other characters such as Sam, Patrick, Bill, and Charlie’s own family.

 Together, Charlie and his friends try to navigate the world around them and experience the turning point from youth to adulthood.

The lessons they learn along the way will likely remind you of your own experiences on the same precipice.

You will have a newfound appreciation for life before your plane can touch the ground.

The story explores a lot of different themes, including life, love, loneliness, and loss. 


  • A heartwarming read 
  • Written in the epistolary form which allows the story to be told from an interesting perspective


  • Some heavy themes make this book unsuitable for younger readers

Turbulence By David Szalay

Turbulence: A Novel

This book is the perfect one to finish in a single flight because it is set on an airplane! 

The story follows the various passengers on a plane that suddenly goes through turbulence.

Written as a series of short stories, the protagonists of these stories navigate the planet through twelve flights to different destinations, from Madrid to Toronto to Delhi. 

These protagonists are on their respective flights for different reasons, some are going to see lovers, some are meeting their grandchildren, some are anticipating seeing an estranged sibling, and more. 

Through these vignettes, readers are invited to explore and experience the full spectrum of human emotion – jumping from love to loneliness to everything else through these protagonists and their interactions with other characters. 

This novel explores themes of love, loneliness, and the varied nature of human interaction and relationships.

After reading, you may be very tempted to start a conversation with the stranger sitting next to you on the plane.

After all, you never know where that conversation will take you! 


  • The chapters flow in interesting ways 
  • Explores universal themes everyone can enjoy and relate to


  • Some people may find the stories a little anticlimactic 

The Alchemist By Paolo Coelho

The Alchemist

The Alchemist is the perfect book to finish in a single flight if you are after something thought-provoking that offers amazing insight and wisdom. 

The story follows a teenage boy named Santiago, Santiago is a shepherd boy who has dreams of traveling the world in search of treasure.

However, while on his search for this extravagant treasure, Santiago finds many other treasures along the way.

He also meets many interesting characters along his journey, such as the desert girl Fatima and the old King Melchizedek, who help him reach a newfound perspective on life. 

These treasures teach him (and us as readers!) some profound wisdom such as following our dreams even if they seem far away, reading the omens sent to us in life, and listening to what our hearts are telling us. 

This story is very reminiscent of a fable and deals with the themes of love, fear, and destiny. 


  • A powerful read that makes you think 
  • A well-written story


  • There are historical inaccuracies throughout the book

The Woman In Cabin 10 By Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10

This is one of the longer books on this list.

However, I still think you can finish it in a single flight because it is a thriller, and thrillers (especially great ones like The Woman In Cabin 10) are real page-turners! 

This particular thriller centers around Lo Blacklock, a travel journalist who has just been given a dream assignment: a week on a small but luxurious cruise!

Lo is prepared to relax on calm waters under a clear sky and enjoy interactions with the guests of this exclusive ship. 

However, pretty soon the trip of a lifetime quickly turns sour, as the skies turn grey, the weather becomes windy, and Lo witnesses the horrific act of a woman being thrown overboard.

But, there’s just one problem with the latter: every passenger on the ship is accounted for. 

The ship continues to sail on, while Lo desperately works to solve the mystery of what has happened on board.

This is a claustrophobic, spring-tingling story full of twists and turns that will make you shiver. 


  • An unreliable narrator means readers are constantly seconds-guessing 
  • Well-plotted story


  • Too many characters meaning you cannot keep up with them all

The Old Man And The Sea By Ernest Hemmingway

The Old Man and The Sea, Book Cover May Vary

If you’re on a particularly short flight, then this is the perfect book to sink into.

The Old Man And The Sea is just over 100 pages long and it is one of those classics that you’ll want to pick up and read over and over again. 

The Old Man And The Sea is about an old Cuban fisherman who feels very down on his luck.

What’s more, he is currently engaged in a battle with a giant marlin, far out into the sea.

Then, once he defeats the marlin, he suddenly faces a new challenge: trying to get the marlin home in shark-infested waters.

This is a wonderful story about being courageous and the strength of the human spirit and explores themes of man vs nature.


  • Lucid, engaging writing
  • A wonderfully written protagonist


  • Some people may find the story difficult to follow

Brooklyn By Colm Toibin

Brooklyn (Eilis Lacey Series)

Eilis Lacey is a young Irish woman who goes to live in Brooklyn during the 1950s to work in a department store.

While there, she falls in love with Tony, an Italian who is a fanatic of the Dodgers and has a huge family. 

However, Eilis is faced with some devastating news and must return to Ireland. While there, she meets Jim, a man similar to Tony whom she realizes she could fall for.

Pretty soon, she is faced with secrets that force her to confront her own.

Eilis has to face the reality that she must make a choice for her life and her future, even if that means hurting someone in the process. 

This is a story that forces the characters and the reader to ponder the question: what and where is home?

It is a story of conflicted loyalties, devastating secrets, secretly impossible choices, and all forms of love. 

However, on top of being a well-plotted story that allows the reader to explore these themes, it is also a great story for mood reading.

In this book, the reader is easily immersed in the world of 1950s Ireland and Brooklyn, which makes it easier to feel Eilis’ plight and be hanging on by a thread waiting for her decision.

I couldn’t put this book down, and you won’t be able to either! 


  • Immersive world-building
  • Beautiful writing style


  • The protagonist is not the most likable person 

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time By Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is a modern classic that can easily be read on one flight (although I can almost guarantee that that will not be your last read of it!) 

The story follows Christopher Francis Boone, a young boy with autism who decides to solve the mystery of what has happened to the neighbor’s dog – and write a book about his findings.

However, Christopher also discovers some family secrets in his search to solve the mystery and feels like his life will never be the same. 

This is a coming-of-age story that explores themes of trust, family, honesty, love, and the bravery of stepping into the unknown. 


  • Wonderfully-written protagonist
  • The excellent writing style throughout the story 


  • Contains strong language 

The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale

I’m sure you have heard of The Handmaid’s Tale. It is a New York Times bestseller and has been adapted into a successful TV series and is now a classic.

If you haven’t read it yet and have a long flight coming up, I suggest you place it at the top of your TBR list.

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a dystopian future where a low birth rate and environmental disasters have plunged the US into a second civil war.

From this stemmed the Republic of Gilead, a regime that has reinforced strict social rules and has enslaved all fertile women – now known as handmaidens. 

Offred is a handmaiden bound to produce children for one of the top commanders of Gilead – she has been taken from her child, husband, life, and her real name.

Now, all she can do is cling to her memories of her former life as she fights to survive. 

In this book, Atwood explores the roles of women in a dystopian society and how those attitudes are reflected in facets of our own society. 


  • A thought-provoking story 
  • Eloquently-written descriptions


  • Some of the characters are underdeveloped 

Can You Ever Forgive Me? By Lee Israel

Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a memoir by Lee Israel that details the shocking truths about the forged letters that she wrote in the early 1990s. 

Before committing these forgeries, Lee Israel had a job as an author.

She wrote biographies of famous people, some of her work even making the New York Times bestseller list! 

However, by the 1990s Israel was broke and at risk of losing her studio apartment. So, she made a decision, one she would come to later to regret. 

Using her skills as a celebrity biographer and researcher, Israel decided to forge letters as though they were written by literary greats, people such as Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, and more. 

Once forged, she decided to sell these forgeries as memorabilia, and she even dodged the FBI for a little while. But how did she get caught? You’ll have to read to find out!

In this confessional memoir, Lee Israel tells all about her decisions in humorous and entertaining ways.

Definitely a different read that you’ll recommend to all of your friends! 


  • A fun read that passes the time 
  • A complex, nuanced story that opens discussions


  • The author does not come across as remorseful which may displease some readers

Breakfast At Tiffany’s By Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany's and Three Stories

Breakfast At Tiffany’s is a classic you may already be familiar with thanks to the classic movie.

The book is only around 160 pages long, but this copy also comes with other short stories from Capote (if you’re looking for even longer books that are over 500 pages, check out our favorite here).

So, if you finish Breakfast At Tiffany’s before your flight ends, then you have plenty of other stories to read! 

Breakfast At Tiffany’s, the book, is less of a happy story than its movie adaptation. However, it is absolutely worth the read.

The story centers around an unnamed narrator as he becomes more and more interested in his elusive and mysterious neighbor, Holly Golightly. 

For the most part, the narrator takes a backseat in this story. It is more of a story about Holly, a restless young woman who yearns for adventure and hates being restricted.

It is a story that explores the idea of love, home, and freedom. 


  • Vivid descriptions 
  • Interesting characters


  • The lack of established plot points in the story can make it difficult to read

Final Thoughts 

No matter whether you are flying to go on vacation or flying for a work trip, you will likely want to do something to pass the time.

One of the best things you can do to pass the time is get your nose stuck in a seriously amazing book

However, the likelihood of finishing a normal novel on a flight, no matter how long it is, is not high.

So, the best thing you can do to start and finish a book on a flight is to read a shorter story or series of short stories. 

All of the books mentioned in the article above are wonderful reads that you can finish in a single flight.

Some of these books are emotional, thought-provoking, and introspective, while others are fun, gripping, and will have you turning the pages. 

All of these books have their strengths and flaws, and there will be some you want to read more than others.

However, all 12 books are fantastic reads that you’ll want to pick up over and over again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Bring Books On A Plane? 

Yes, you can bring books on a plane as part of your checked baggage allowance in the United States. Luckily, you will have more space in your checked baggage so you will be able to take more books. 

How Can I Read Faster?

Becoming a speed reader takes a lot of practice, and you do not necessarily need to read the books above quickly to finish them in a single flight. However, you can read faster by using a marker, like a closed pen, to trace the lines as you read. 

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Anna Davis