It’s 6 a.m. I’m elegantly gracing the sticky floor of Stansted Airport while waiting for a delayed flight and I’m praying hard that recently introduced ‘revolutionary’ changes to certain low-cost Irish airline will keep people from rubbing charity scratch cards or that bargain of a £5.99 coke into my face.

Good morning. I’m Caroline, not quite your morning enthusiast but it’s a pleasure to meet you. Before I keep on dwelling on my airport snobbery that I can’t actually afford, I will introduce you to the five dazzling reads that will turn any annoying wait into an oasis of inspiration. That even applies if the person next to you just spilt coffee all over your hawaiian jumpsuit.


Many a Travelette will have replaced heavy paperbacks with a flashy Kindle, so there is no reason why you can’t take all of them with you. Let’s ignore Instagram, Twitter and that inbox for a while and get caught up in five plots together.

1. The exotic one: The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

This is a story of concentrated girl power in a city that has been a war zone for too long. Five very different women bump into each other in a busy cafe in the capital of Afghanistan and share each other’s stories and struggles. (You could call it exotic chick lit.) It’s starts off a bit intimidating when they are discussing where to store their guests’ guns or how one of the pregnant characters is being made homeless because her husband was shot a few months ago, but if you keep reading you’ll be surprised by how much fascinating Afghan wisdom and persistence there is in these ladies. It also slightly adjusts your perspective on Western culture. Plus: There are some book club recipes at the end which sound very tasty but I will leave it to you to try them out because I have a slight tendency to set kitchens on fire.

2. The literary one: Butcher’s Crossing

I was just about to pay for Stoner (John Williams’ more recent book) when the lady behind the counter looked at me quizzically, like she was having an inner debate as to whether I can handle the truth. “Is something wrong?”, I asked in my subtle ways. “Can I suggest you get Butcher’s Crossing instead? It’s a lot sharper and more passionate.” So I went for it. It’s a Western but without the guns. The male protagonist is originally from the East Coast and the book portrays his journey towards finding himself (and three other very interesting characters) in the Wild West. It seems a bit like a romantic novel my Dad would read at the beach and maybe that’s true, but there is so much more nuanced and driven storytelling going on, so give it a chance!


3. The inspiring one: A Year of Mornings: 3191 Miles Apart

A Year of Mornings is the only book I would recommend getting in paper format. Stephanie and Marie live far (3191 miles) from each other and take a picture of what their 8am coffee, linen, and so on look like – all to share life despite the distance. The results (very instagrammable, I can tell ya!) are simple portraits of everyday life and will inspire you to discover them in your own life. It’s the kind of book for when you haven’t seen your best friend in ages and your heart is aching a little for home. It’s also a book that will remind you of how the most beautiful things in life are the quiet, ordinary ones. So get up, make your morning coffee look fancy and tell a friend that you love them. Friendships aren’t about exclusively grand gestures and these pages are a pretty reminder of that.

4. The one you already know (but could read again): The Happiness Project

The problem with books that have set out to change your life is that usually there’s so much good stuff in them that it’s virtually impossible to apply everything right away. Solution: Read them again, highlight different passages (or tear out certain pages and pin them above your bed, depending on your style) and keep the ball of happiness rolling. Gretchen Rubin wrote a timeless classic that actually changed some of my less admirable habits into healthier alternatives, month by month. (Although I haven’t quite figured out how to cook yet.) But because we could all deal with a bit more #EverydayHappiness, I’d suggest to read it one more time. Rubin also writes an inspirational blog with lots of new material.


5. The poetic one: I Wrote This for You

It’s National Poetry Month in the States. So if you’re into the occasional feel-good love story but look for something a little more literary, a little less cheerful, then I wrote this for you should move to the top of your reading list. It’s not the book that you’d pick for the 30 minutes you need to kill before you hit the most exciting destination you’ll ever get to. It’s one for long-haul flights between Bangkok and Sydney, it’s one for when you lost your heart in Thailand but will set out on a new adventure the next morning. It describes the different phases of a relationship somewhere between a very short climax and the inevitable free fall. It also made me cry multiple times. With the outside world looking really dark and lonely through the window. Yes, it’s a sad world and there’s still coffee on my clothes.