February 17, 2014

Novels for Nervous Flyers

Growing up in the 1960s and 70s I was greatly influenced by movies such as Come Fly With Me and Coffee, Tea or Me? which depicted the glamourous lifestyle of the adventurous airline stewardess. I even dreamed of becoming a flight attendant myself but things change. I also wanted to skydive back then. I haven't done it yet and you won't find it on my bucket list.

Take-off from Nice Airport

I gradually developed a bit of a fear of flying. I can't trace it back to any single incident although the process did coincide with the high-profile DC-10 jumbo jet crashes in the 70s. (And I won't even get into the events of 9-11.) But I've had to overcome my apprehension to get where I want to go – I can't get enough of Europe.

Tower Bridge, London

The right novel can help a nervous flyer endure that long, long wait in the departure lounge. And once the plane takes off, a fast-paced plot can distract from unsettling bumps and that funny little noise that probably shouldn't be happening. Does the pilot know? Maybe I should ring for the flight attendant...

Stop. Take a deep breath and open a book. Mysteries and thrillers with a good dose of murder and mayhem fit the bill perfectly. And they help put my own fears into better perspective. Wouldn't I rather be sitting here on this plane than being chased down by gun-toting bad guys??

St. Peter's Square, The Vatican

I'm especially drawn to stories with history, art and archeology themes. Dan Brown's bestselling novels (The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons and Inferno) are perfect examples. Here are some of my other favourites:

A. J Hartley:

The Mask of Atreus (Greek legends and antiquities)
On the Fifth Day (archeology and religious symbols)
What Time Devours (a lost Shakespeare manuscript)
Tears of the Jaguar (a cache of rubies in Mexico's Yucatan)

Steve Berry:

The Amber Room (Imperial Russian treasures hidden by Nazi looters)
The Alexandria Link (the lost library of Alexandria)
The Romanov Dynasty (Rasputin and Russia's last Tsar)
The Paris Vendetta (Napoleon's secret treasure)
(On second thought, maybe we should scratch that last one from the list. There's an unsettling scene involving the Eiffel Tower.)

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Charles Brokaw:
The Atlantis Code (the lost city of Atlantis)

Daniel Silva:
The Rembrandt Affair (stolen artwork)
A Death in Vienna (Nazi war criminals)

The Rembrandt Affair (and schnitzel) at Frankfurt Airport

If you prefer to watch movies on your tablet or iPad, two of Dan Brown's books (The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons) have already been made into films. Another recommendation is The Italian Job, with great opening chase scenes on the canals of Venice.

Grand Canal, Venice

So my advice to all my fellow nervous flyers: pack a good book into your carry-on bag or visit the airport bookstore and choose the story that will keep your mind occupied. Leave the flying to the pilot. And a nice glass of wine couldn't hurt.

Have you read an engaging book you'd recommend to nervous flyers?

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