Mr. Seat by the Window calls out and waves to all the crew. “Hey, Joe! Nice to see you!” He obviously lives on WestJet — which, I can attest, is a perky sort of airline (superior, in my view, to grumpy Air Canada). I quickly dig out my earplugs and open a book. I think of Alexander McCall Smith, who writes on airplanes. I think of Margaret Atwood, who writes poetry on tour. “What else is there to do?” They are the gold metal winners of the tour circuit. I’m just aiming to get through it in one piece.

I begin a list of survival gear: iPod, earplugs. I will need a purse/backpack that fits under the narrow aisle seat I now favor, something sturdy I can put my feet on (given that the seat heights are too tall for me, designed for men). A shawl and slipper socks for when it’s cold; a layer I can slip off when it’s hot.

I’ve chosen an excellent novel for travel — The Book Thief — but it’s too fat. I need a slender yet engaging book. I remember traveling through Europe with War and Peace, tearing off pages as I read them, returning home with a few pages and the back cover — but I don’t want to do that with this book. This is a book to pass on.


Image from BibliOdyessy.