1. Start with 1) your face buried in 2) a paper book that 3) no one will ask you about.Board as early as you can. Buckle your seatbelt, bury your face, and cast nary a glance at your seatmates as they arrive. Why a paper book? You can’t use an ereader during takeoff, so if you start with one, you’ll have to transition to a paper book at some point in the first few minutes of being on the plane. That creates a dangerous opening in which your seatmate could try to talk to you. So, paper book it is. Ideally, this will be a book that most people would be too embarrassed to ask a stranger about, thus Breasts by Florence Williams. The Best American Sex Writing has worked well for me in the past, too (and it’s fun!).
2. Hide your bestsellers.You heard me. That “New York Times Bestseller!” note on the cover is the death knell for your airborne quiet time. “Bestseller” translates to “People are talking about this book,” and that means there’s an increased likelihood that your seatmate will recognize the book or–worse–will have read it and want to discuss it with you. If you absolutely must take the latest It Book on a flight, at least take the jacket off. The naked hardback pictured above? That’s Ann Patchett’s blockbuster State of Wonder. It’s a fantastic book, but if you’re taking it on a plane, you better strip it first.
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