Good Minds Suggest: Chris Bohjalian's Five Picks on Air Travel Gone Awry

March, 2018
Chris Bohjalian

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Chris Bohjalian is the author of 20 books, including The Guest Room, The Sandcastle Girls, and Midwives, which was a New York Times bestseller and an Oprah's Book Club selection. His new book, The Flight Attendant, is a thriller set amid the fascinating world of those whose lives unfold at 40,000 feet.

In The Flight Attendant, Cassandra Bowden is a binge drinker who uses her job as a flight attendant to find adventure—often at the bottom of a bottle. So when she wakes up in a Dubai hotel room with a man beside her and no memory of the night before, she just assumes she's hit another low. However, the stranger in her bed is dead. With a departing flight, Cassie decides not to call the authorities, as she has no idea what really happened, and instead begins to lie. As Cassie gets in over her head, she is forced to contemplate whether she killed the man. And if she didn't, who did?

While the world of air travel doesn't usually involve this much intrigue, Goodreads asked Bohjalian to recommend five more books about flights taking a turn for the worse.

"Air travel today is a lot less glamorous than it was when I was a boy. (When was the last time anyone gave you a deck of cards and some slippers in coach?) We've all witnessed our share of cage fights to the death over space in the overhead bins. But I've never lost my awe at the miracle of aviation and how astonishing it is that I can wake up in Vermont and be in California in hours—or the far corners of the Middle East in less than a day," says Bohjalian. "Nevertheless, flight has always made for great fiction and fascinating memoirs. Here are some of my favorite books about air travel gone awry: three novels, a chronicle of perhaps the most remarkable landing ever, and a memoir…"

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"Langewiesche is a brilliant journalist, and his account of Captain "Sully" Sullenberger's January 2009 ditching of an Airbus in the Hudson River is riveting. All 155 people survived, thanks to the experience of the crew and the technology of the plane."


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"Poole is a flight attendant and a terrific writer. Her memoir of her life at 35,000 feet—and at airports and "crash pads" at sea level—is revealing and funny and rich with wonderful stories of passenger misbehavior."


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"A small plane has to ditch in the sea on the way to the Galapagos Islands, and husband Daniel Kennedy frantically climbs over his wife to save himself in Farndale's beautiful, surprising novel. And then Daniel's wife lives anyway. When they return to England, their relationship is in considerably worse shape than that plane. And so while the couple has indeed survived, it's hard to say whether their marriage will, too."


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"No roundup of books about air travel gone awry would be complete without one tome about a terrifying plane crash. Eleven people are on board the small plane traveling from Martha's Vineyard to New York, and nine of them die. The book is a stunner of a mystery—what really happened and why—but also a poignant examination of the lives of the living and the dead."


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"We know the movie with Anna Kendrick and George Clooney. Here is the novel that inspired it, the tale of a steely, merciless, corporate executive who fires people for a living and is most at home in the skies and airline hubs—or what he calls, 'Airworld.' And, slowly, on the ground and up in the air it all begins to unravel."


Want more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Robin (new)

Robin Although the air travel may be somewhat peripheral to the larger story, I highly recommend Wise Men by Stuart Nadler.


message 2: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Adler Before the Fall by Noah Hawley is outstanding. I couldn't put it down and could not be certain about what had really happened until the author detailed events at the very end. There's also a cast of rich characters whose lives barely intertwined prior to merging on this flight. This is a must read, can't-miss book!


message 3: by Janet (new)

Janet Rose Before the Fall by Noah Hawley is a great page turner. Loved every minute of this book! Highly recommended.


message 4: by Linda (new)

Linda Thanks for this! I hadn't encountered any of these authors before.


Lyn (Readinghearts) I have to add my voice to Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. Great book.


message 6: by Andrea (new)

Andrea What about The Pilots Wife by Anita Shreeve?


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