Five Books for a Fourteen-Hour Plane Flight

Somewhat foolishly, I booked a direct flight to India on a plane with no seatback televisions and, as far as I know, no chargers for my phone/Kindle app. So I’ve been making a list of paper books to read on the way.

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
I was about two hundred pages into this when I fell off the wagon of the group readalong on tumblr. I’m excited to get back to the adventures of Edmond Dantes, and even more excited to find out more about everyone’s favorite badass quadriplegic revolutionary grandpa, Noirtier (yes, he’s a minor character, but so far the most fun).

2. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
To my shame, I’ve never read this book, despite majoring in Russian in college. Fortunately, I have a lovely English translation, which I’ve read a few chapters of. So far I’m more interested in the story of Pontius Pilate than in the satire of Stalinist-era society, but hopefully that thread will pick up later on. My fanfic loving friends may find this book interesting, with its “modern AU” of Goethe’s Faust and its audacious take on the New Testament.

3. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
I know nothing about this book other than that it’s about an aristocrat in (once again) the Stalinist period, who’s confined to a hotel under house arrest. Also, both my parents read and recommended it. We’ll see how it turns out!

4. The Peach-Blossom Fan by Kong Shangren
I was perhaps lured into buying this under false pretenses, as the NYRB Classics blurb talks more about corrupt courtiers embezzling money for a theater performance than about the central love story, which is foregrounded in other summaries of the play. This is a Chinese classic about the fall of the Ming dynasty–a reformer and a loyal courtesan fall in love as their world falls apart around them. They eventually become Taoist monks instead of staying together.

5. The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag
I had to buy this because a) it was on sale for two bucks and b) it has an epilogue in the voice of Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel, Neopolitan journalist and revolutionary martyr. Mostly it seems to be about Lord Nelson (who put down the revolution Fonseca Pimentel was involved in), Emma Hamilton, and Hamilton’s husband, but it ends with a refreshing “They thought they were civilized. They were despicable. Damn them all.” I’ve read nothing by Sontag before, so this should be interesting.