The wife and I are going to Taiwan at the beginning of March for a month to visit her parents. We're stopping for a week in Japan first since it's on the way. I've made this trip before so I know how hellish it is. From Dallas to Tokyo is 12.5 hours and I can't sleep on planes.

So I want to take a couple books with me to keep me busy. One I already decided on is Journey to the Center of the Earth, a timeless classic and one of my favorites. But I need help deciding on the second book. I've narrowed it down to these books:

1. The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy
2. The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum
3. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, John le Carre
4. The Cleaner, Brett Battles

If you've read any of these books, which would you suggest for me to bring? Which one is the most riveting, the one that will keep me glued to the pages so I can pass the time easier.

Any help is appreciated. Also, if you know of any novels that remind you of a John Woo film, let me know. Thanks.

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The Spy is an excellent read, a classic, in fact, but I wouldn't call it a page turner; it's more cerebral than that. I read the Bourne Identity a long time ago and it is a page turner but not very well written as I recall, in the Dan Brown school of page turner. Haven't read the Clancy or even heard of the Battles.

PS: I've been to Tokyo a few times now, once from DC, so I feel your pain. Have a good trip!
Fast paced isn't necessary as long as it's involving. If the Bourne Identity isn't written very well then that's something I want to know, so thanks for mentioning that.


The upside of the long flight to Japan is that after that long flight, the 4 hours from Japan to Taiwan is nothing.
If you like to read something that makes you think, take le Carre's book. If you like a book that makes you speculate on the possibilities of technology and espionage, take Clancy.

But if you want a book to while away the hours, nothing beats Ludlum.
I've read the first three--here's my take:

1.Red October: Clancy's first (I think) and probably his best, but that ain't saying much. By the time I got two-thirds of the way through I was hoping somebody--anybody--would push the Big Red Button and put as all out of our misery. If anyone ever uses the expression "Crazy Ivan" in my presence, I can't be held responsible for my actions.

2.Ludlum isn't bad, and this one's a model thriller with perfect pacing. Thumbs up.

3.Le Carré is a master and "Spy" is probably the best spy novel of all time. An inspired choice for a long flight.

4.Don't know, but I've heard good things.

Some free advice: if you're flying coach, God help you. Take some Xanax--you'll need it.
Yeah, I am flying coach. It wouldn't be as bad if I'd never done it before since I wouldn't know what I was getting into, but this will be my second time making this trip, so unfortunately I know how awful it is. Thanks for the input.
If you'll consider something else, I would suggest a guy by the name of John Maddox Roberts who writes a historical detective series based out of Ancient Rome, called the SPQR series. I'd take the first three books along. Good pacing, interesting characters, interesting times.
Not crazy about JMR. Or Saylor, for that matter. Same old, same old as far as historical mysteries are concerned. Davis has a more engaging protagonist, but her novels are a bit uneven.
I have read all four books and would go for John le Carre. It is a classic and always in my opinion stands up to constant re-reading. However, I have also read the John Maddox Roberts books ( I have the whole series in fact) that have been suggested and if I had a choice they would win hands down followed by the Le Carre.
I've read THE CLEANER. It's good, John. This book was for me the runner-up to the Shamus Award (won by Chercover). THE CLEANER is an international thriller which should hold your interest under the stress of the flight. The trip sounds gorgeous -- once you get there. Have a ball!
The spy who came in from the cold. The best classic cold war spy story in 1960 Berlin. And you can easily imagine Richard Burton in the title role (he played it in the movie version) Have a good flight.
LeCarre's is the only one of the four I've read, and I highly recommend it. When you get back home, rent the movie, too. It's an excellent adaptation of the book, and Richard Burton is great in it.

Happy flying.
Good suggestions. Does anyone have any additions set in either Japan or Taiwan?

I took a trip to England once and read a Peter Robinson (Inspector Banks) novel on the flight. It was a terrific warm-up for my arrival in London.

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