Planes, Trains and Automobiles

June 23, 2014

“Books are the plane, the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
Anna Quindlen

I picked up Agatha Christie’s Death in the Air last week because I had a sudden urge for one of her books (and I can use it for the Vintage Mystery Challenge). That got me thinking about books in which planes, trains and automobiles figure as settings or are otherwise integral to the story. Below is an incomplete list of transportation-related titles. Given my love for mysteries, crimes figure in many of these stories (and trains seem to be especially lethal!). Some of these I’ve read (in bold), and others I discovered in my research for this post. Many of these books have been made into movies, if you prefer your transportation stories on the screen.

Death in the Air (alternate title, Death in the Clouds), Agatha Christie. Poisoned darts and Hercule Poirot.
The Flight of the Phoenix, Elleston Trevor. A plane crash in the Sahara—how will the surviving passengers make it out alive?
I Was Amelia Earhart, Jane Mendelsohn. A “brilliantly-imagined” telling of what happened after Earhart and her navigator disappeared near New Guinea.
“The Langoliers,” a novella found in Four Past Midnight, Stephen King. And you already thought airplane travel was nightmarish.
The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint Exupery. Described as “a fable of love and loneliness,” this involves another plane crash in the Sahara.
Non-fiction bonus: Listen! The Wind and North to the Orient, Anne Morrow Lindberg
When I Fell From the Sky, Juliane Koepcke

The Lady Vanishes, Lina Ethel White. Where is Miss Froy? And why does no one except Iris remember her?
Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith. Explores the dark psychological forces under the surface of everyday life.
Murder on the Orient Express and What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw! (Also known as 4:50 From Paddington), Agatha Christie. Two lethal train rides.
Murder on the Ballarat Train, Kerry Greenwood. Yup. Stay off the train.
The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars, Maurice Dekobra. More adventure on the Orient Express.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, John Godey. Peril on a subway train.
Around the World in 80 Days, Jules Verne. Boats, trains and hot air balloons!
Non-fiction bonus: The Railway Man, Eric Lomax

On the Road, Jack Kerouac. “The Bible of the Beat Generation.”
Christine, Stephen King. A boy’s first car, as imagined by Stephen King.
Sideways, Rex Pickett. A wine country road trip.
The Pull of the Moon, Elizabeth Berg. Who hasn’t wanted to get in her car and just go?
The Long Way Home, Karen McQuestion. Four women on a road trip from Wisconsin to Las Vegas.
Non-fiction bonus: The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson
Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck.

I see several titles here I want to read (I can’t believe I’ve never read Around the World in 80 Days or Travels With Charley, for example). As I said, I know this list is incomplete—have I left out your favorites? Please share!