Take to the Skies: An Aviation Books List
Whether up in an airplane, a hot air balloon, a blimp, or a jet, there’s something remarkable about the feeling of flying. Just as some novels are themed towards people who love all things nautical, there is a plethora of titles for those who enjoy reading about aircrafts and aviators. Check out the list below for books from many genres that include the magic of flight somehow in their plots.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
A Printz Award-winning book and New York Times bestseller, this novel reveals the thoughts and actions of a plucky female protagonist who couldn’t resist the draw of aviation. Taking place during World War II, it has our daring narrator being captured by the Gestapo and facing certain death. They offer her the option of survival as long as she tells them everything she knows. Well, she starts at the beginning and reveals her story not only to the Gestapo but to the reader in a unique way. The reader soon learns about her desperate attempts to get home after a plane crash and the difficult decisions she had to make. Elizabeth Wein does a great job with the character’s history and friendship with a girl named Maddie, the one who introduced all things aviary to ‘Verity.’ For those who enjoy Code Name Verity, Wein wrote another book with an aviation theme called Rose Under Fire, which Tara has reviewed here.
Chinese Beverly Hills by John Shannon
A diamond in the rough, this little known mystery is delightfully witty and clever in the style of hard-boiled detective novels from the noir age. The detective character, Jack Liffey is implored by a former love interest to find her missing niece. Set in a lively and character-rich part of town that is called Chinese Beverly Hills due to the large Chinese-American population, the novel is abundant in colorful details and descriptions. Danger awaits Liffey at every turn while he follows the trail of the missing girl, and a perilous fire has broken out in the hills, making things more complicated. A couple of thrilling action scenes illustrate the majesty of flight as various aircrafts attempt to extinguish the flames from above.
Thomas Riley by Nick Valentino
Capturing the essence of steampunk and the beauty of a time that never was (but maybe should have been), Nick Valentino creates a story that is rife with steam-powered airships in this beautiful work. The title character, Thomas Riley, is an engineer who provides complex and fascinating weapons and ships in a war against Lemuria that has gone on for so long that no one remembers how it started in the first place. When Thomas is ordered to rescue the West Canvian princess from the opposing force, the best intentions get tied in knots. The only way to save her is to fly in on one of his steam-powered airships. Aviation nuts will love to read about the main character who not only flies these incredible airships, but builds them as well.
Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown
While there are many books about the strange yet glamorous life of Howard Hughes, this one is written with a tone of journalism to it. The details are well-researched and backed up with first-hand sources, which is a delight for those who enjoy nonfiction, yet the thrilling sense of imminent danger you get from a novel shines through. The reader watches as the eccentric billionaire slowly becomes more obsessive and slowly loses touch with the real world around him. The scene where Hughes crashes his plane into a home in Beverly Hills is so vivid and horrifyingly spectacular, no movie could do it justice. Often named as one of the most influential aviators in history, Howard Hughes and his story have a lot to offer aviation enthusiasts.
What other aviation books would you recommend?