The Books You Should Pack For 4 Types of Flights

iStock/ baona
iStock/ baona

Choosing the right book for traveling is never easy: If it's one you haven't started yet, there's the fear that it won't be good and you'll get stuck. But bring a book you have begun, and the consequences could be worse: You might finish it mid-flight with nothing more to read. To solve the book/flight conundrum, here’s a list of recommendations by trip type.

1. SHORT COMMUTER FLIGHTS

DEAR EVAN HANSEN BY STEVEN LEVENSON AND BENJ PASEK

For short flights, consider reading a play: The majority are written to last around two hours, after all. And if you’re flying into or out of New York, make it Broadway. Thematically, Steven Levenson’s original work that eventually transformed into Tony-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen is like a modern-day version of the play Our Town. Like the Thornton Wilder classic—which we also recommend—Dear Evan Hansen uses youth and relationships to show how we all crave connection in an increasingly isolated world. If a play’s not your thing, author Val Emmich’s novelization of the same name is also available.

2. CROSS-COUNTRY TRIPS

THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD BY CHARLES DICKENS

On longer flights, delve into a mid-length classic. Like the rest of his novels, Charles Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood deals with the problems of poverty, focusing on inheritances that may or may not arrive. What makes Drood unique and the perfect length for flights? Dickens died before he finished writing it, so it’s not very long (at least compared his other works). Consider an edition with supplemental commentary (like Modern Library Classics) in case you get delayed.

ON THE ROAD BY JACK KEROUAC

For those who like their tomes more complete, there’s Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, an autobiographical novel about freedom, travel, and youth. Bonus points if you’re flying to San Francisco, where he and other Beat writers made their name.

3. LONG-HAUL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

SHE WOULD BE KING BY WAYETU MOORE

Wayetu Moore’s She Would Be King uses the power of story to show the injustice African women face across time and place. From a plot perspective, the novel describes how the country of Liberia began. But on a deeper level, Moore crafts a world where women undeniably are not victims: They are a driving, creation force.

BECOMING MRS LEWIS BY PATTI CALLAHAN

Patti Callahan’s Becoming Mrs Lewis describes how theologian CS Lewis met his wife. But this isn’t the shallow love story its name might suggest: Literary in nature, Becoming Mrs Lewis takes time to digest, making it perfect for longer trips. Well-structured and impeccably researched, characterization drives this story to completion with a narrative so intimate, you’ll forget you’re on a plane.

ONCE UPON A RIVER BY DIANE SETTERFIELD

Set to publish December 4—just in time for holiday vacation—Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River explores the lives of multiple characters after one man finds a girl who appears to be dead in the Thames. With the richness of her language, the author creates a mystery where all the characters' stories intersect. They all claim the child is theirs—not for her sake, but for their own. In this story, every word matters, and you'll enjoy wading through all the stories to find the truth about the little girl and where she really came from.

4. TRIPS WITH A LAYOVER:

THE O. HENRY PRIZE STORIES 2018 OR PEN AMERICA BEST DEBUT SHORT STORIES 2018

Short stories are ideal for commuter flights, as you can finish one then gauge how much time's left before starting another. They’re also great for layovers for the same reason: Interruptions don’t mean pulling yourself out of the story; they come naturally as you move from one tale (or plane) to another. And if you don’t like one, you can always skip it and move on. That’s why we recommend anthologies over single-author collections.

Knopf Doubleday’s The O. Henry Prize Stories 2018, a 20-story anthology, or Catapult’s PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2018, a collection of 12. Both include the best short fiction published by literary magazines over the last year. Together, they serve as a greatest hits list for contemporary fiction, a way to quickly get up to speed on what’s being published without slogging through journal after journal.

THE OTHER WOMAN BY SANDIE JONES

Want to stick to novels instead? Pick up Sandie Jones’s The Other Woman, a psychological thriller where the “other woman” the main character’s soon-to-be mother-in-law. It’s fairly light reading, which means you won’t lose track when you have to change planes. The deeper you get into the story, the more compelling it becomes, so you’ll definitely want power through to the ending before you land.

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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6 Things We Know About the Game of Thrones Prequel Series, House of the Dragon

HBO
HBO

By the time Game of Thrones wrapped up its record-breaking eight-season run in 2019, it was a no-brainer that HBO would be producing another GoT series to keep the success going. The first announced show in the works, which was reportedly picked from a few prequel ideas, was going to chronicle a time thousands of years before the start of GoT, and was set to star actress Naomi Watts. Unfortunately, that project was eventually scrapped after the pilot was shot—but a new prequel series, House of the Dragon, was announced in October 2019. Here's what we know about it so far.

1. House of the Dragon will be based on George R.R. Martin's book Fire & Blood.

George R.R. Martin's novel Fire & Blood, which tells the story of House Targaryen, will serve as the source of inspiration for the plot of House of the Dragon. The first of two volumes was published in 2018, and takes place 300 years before Game of Thrones.

2. House of the Dragon will likely chronicle the Targaryen family's tumultuous past.

Game of Thrones showed that the Targaryen family has a long-standing history of inbreeding, secrets, betrayal, war, and insanity. Fire & Blood covers topics like the first Aegon Targaryen's conquest of the Seven Kingdoms and his subsequent reign, as well as the lives of his sons. Seems like we'll probably be meeting Dany's ancestors, and Martin confirmed there will definitely be dragons present—maybe even Balerion the Black Dread, the biggest dragon in all of Westerosi history.

3. George R.R. Martin and Ryan Condal are co-creators of House of the Dragon.

Co-Executive Producer George R.R. Martin arrives at the premiere of HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' Season 3 at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 18, 2013 in Hollywood, California
George R.R. Martin
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Martin shared on his blog that he's been working with writer and producer Ryan Condal (Rampage, Colony), on the show. "Ryan Condal is new to Westeros, but not to me," the acclaimed author wrote. "I first met Ryan when he came to New Mexico to shoot a pilot for a fantasy western that was not picked up. I visited his set and we became friendly ... He’s a terrific writer … and a fan of my books since well before we met." In another blog post, Martin said that the show's script and bible were "terrific, first-rate, exciting." Sounds like we'll be in good hands.

5. A Game of Thrones director is returning for House of the Dragon.

Per a tweet from the Game of Thrones Twitter account announcing the show, Miguel Sapochnik, who directed many of the original HBO series' biggest episodes, such as "Battle of the Bastards" and "Hardhome," will be returning for House of the Dragon as showrunner alongside Condal. Sapochnik is also known for directing a handful of other notable shows, such as True Detective, Masters of Sex, and Altered Carbon.

6. House of the Dragon could be coming in 2022.

HBO ordered 10 episodes of House of the Dragon, and HBO president of programming Casey Bloys said he thought that the show would debut "sometime in 2022." However, with the film industry facing major delays due to safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, there's no word on when the show will begin filming.

Meanwhile, Martin revealed that he won't be writing any scripts for House of the Dragon until he finishes The Winds of Winter, which has been in the works since A Dance With Dragons, his most recent book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, debuted in 2011. The good news, however, is that Martin says he has been "writing every day" while keeping indoors and social distancing, leaving fans with the hope that The Winds of Winter will come soon.