12 of The Best Plane Books to Read Before Your Next Vacay

Plane books to read before your next vacation
12 of The Best Plane Books to Read Before Your Next Vacay 15

Last summer I rounded up all my favorite boat books, so it seemed only fair that I do the same for plane books!

The list below is filled with plane crash novels, stories set on a plane, books about pilots, or books where a flight (or flight mishap) is pivotal to the plot of the story.

It’s a rather eclectic group of stories, but those are the kinds of book lists I love the most! So enjoy these plane novels and nonfiction works and let us know which is your favorite.

*plane novels post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are my own.

Plane Books


Turbulence by David Szalay

Clocking in at less than 150 pages, this one-sitting story packs quite the punch. 12 people are connected via flights around the globe, each brief location touching on the next character via their airport connections.

As the connections circle the world, the story comes full circle. Though brief, the characters each have depth and poignancy.

Why I Liked it: I wanted to spend more time with each character – I’m lamenting how short this story was, but impressed by the achievement of how quickly character development took place. It is a literary Love Actually without the romance.

Clap when you land

Clap When You Land By Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic and counts down the days until her father comes to visit every year from New York City. 

Yahaira Rios lives in New York City and her life changes forever the day she finds out her father has been killed in a plane crash on his way to the Dominican Republic for his summer trip. 

Why I Like it: The story of the sisters meeting and each finding out new things about their father and each other made for quite a story. This is one of the most emotional and poignant books about sisters. 

Find this book in Books about Sisters / Plane Novels

Plane and Pilot Romances

Ugly love

Ugly Love by Christina Lauren

Tate and Miles’ love story is probably the most well-known pilot romance ever. They aren’t friends, it’s not love at first sight, but they are both looking for no-strings-attached sex.

They can’t deny their attraction so they enter into a sex-buddy relationship. But can they keep their hearts from getting entangled?

Why I liked it: While not my favorite Colleen Hoover book, this story is quite steamy and fast-paced.

The Summer Skies

The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan

This brand-new book brings us to northern Scotland, where Morag McGinty is a third-generation pilot. Following an accident in the air, Morag’s boyfriend wants her to move with him to Dubai.

Struggling and now fearful of flying, she returns home to fly her Grandpa’s route when he is sick. When she has to make a quick landing on a small island in a storm, she meets Gregor Cameron who might change everything.

My Thoughts Here’s the thing, I am TERRIFIED of flying so a book about planes isn’t going to be a favorite of mine, especially if it involves mechanical failures. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but if the subject matter doesn’t put you off, you might enjoy the newest Jenny Colgan book! #gifted by Avon

Find this book in Jenny Colgan Books Ranked / Plane Novels

Plane Crash Novels

dear edward

Dear Edward by Anne Napolitano

January 2020 Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

This compelling story is about a boy who survives a plane crash within the first few pages of the book.  However, the book moves back and forth between the plane flight and the aftermath so you get to know the people on the flight and their stories.

It’s a heartbreaking tale that you won’t soon forget. While I really like it, I don’t recommend reading it while travelling.

Why I Love it: The minute I read the first page, I was immediately captured. I love the way this book was written. 

Find it in Plane Crash Novels

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Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

I was transfixed by the story of a young boy and a man who survived a private plane crash. The big question is, why did the plane crash and why were they the only ones to survive? It was equally a mystery and a study of the way the media twists truths and spins tales.

Why I Loved it: I didn’t guess the truth behind why the plane came down, and I fell a little bit in love with the 2 survivors. I was sad when it was finished – it was really that good!


Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421 by T.J Newman

Six minutes after flight 1421 takes off, it crashes into the Pacific Ocean, and with twelve people remaining on board, it sinks.

Will and his daughter are among the passengers trapped with limited air and teetering on the edge of a cliff to the abyss. Their only hope of survival is Chris Kent, a diving professional, and Will’s soon-to-be ex-wife. She will not stop until her daughter is safe.

Why I Liked it: This terrifying and exhilarating thriller will have your heart pounding from the first page to the last.

Find this book in Plane Crash Novels / Ultimate Beach Reads 2023

Castle of Water

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelridge

When Sophie and Barry find themselves on an Island as the sole survivors of a plane crash, they learn to depend on each other.  The book moves seamlessly from the past to the present, weaving an intricate tale.

Why I Love It: This is a wonderful contemporary fiction book about love and survival.  It is so much more than it appears on the surface. I cried during the ending and have been singing it’s praises ever since. Everyone I’ve ever recommended this one too has had the same response.

Find this book in Kirsten’s Favorite Books / Feel-Good Books / Plane Crash Novels / Books Like People We Meet on Vacation / Books Set at the Beach

Nonfiction Plane Books

The Day the World Came to Town

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede

Did you know the town of Gander, Newfoundland, took in 6,500 people on planes that had to have emergency landings after 9/11? I didn’t until I read this story, which also inspired the show Come From Away.

The townspeople were so welcoming and kind. It’s like Mr. Rodgers says – always look for the helpers.

Why I Loved it: I sobbed through this entire story. This non-fiction book was poignant and hopeful at the same time. It will keep you in the grip of its pages.

Find this book in Plane Books / Feel Good Nonfiction / Books to Emotionally Wreck You /

catch me if you can

Catch Me if You Can by Frank Abignail Jr.

Frank Abignail Jr’s life is one that most people could never even imagine – running away from home, impersonating a pilot, lawyer, and doctor, and defrauding banks out of millions of dollars.

This is the story of how he got away with all of his cons and eventually got caught. It’s a truly fascinating book that reads like fiction.

Why I Like it: There is a reason this book inspired the hit movie starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio – it’s a story you wouldn’t believe if it wasn’t true.

Find this book in Con Artist Books / Plane Books / Feel-Good Nonfiction

come fly the world

Come Fly The World by Julia Cooke

In this delightful book, I learned about uniforms, training, frolicking adventures, and the glamorous life in the air that had me picturing Gwyneth Paltrow in View From the Top.

It also discussed far more serious topics like hijackers, Vietnam War flights and rescues, and issues of discrimination toward women.

Why I Loved it: Jackie and I talked with Julia about the research of this book, what surprised her most, and other fun things over on IG. Be sure to check it out.

Find this book in Nonfiction Books for Beginners / Plane Books / Books set in the 70s / Best Nonfiction Books

The only plane in the sky

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff

Wow. It is hard to put the power of this book into words. Graff crafted the day of 9/11 from hour to hour and I had a hard time listening to it.  The 45-person full-cast audiobook recreates the day with heart-stopping detail.

Like everyone, I remember exactly where I was on that day. Hearing the oral history told by first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and families is unlike anything I have ever seen and should be required for every student in the country. This is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read and while it is a sad book, it is a must-read.

Why I Love it: This book is the perfect example of how full-cast audiobooks can transform a book into something greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Find this book in Plane Books / Books to Make You Cry / Full Cast Audiobooks / Best Nonfiction Books

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