Or why you should read Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
One of my favourite parts of vacation, particularly a beach one, is vacation reading. You get to spend time stretched out in the sun, a cool drink in hand, and read something fun and exciting and maybe a little breezy. More important though is the airplane book. Airplanes are basically my least favourite things in existence: squeezed into a too small seat with not enough legroom in an aluminum tube full of smelly, loud, sick strangers all while hurtling through the air. Between my fear of flying, my dislike for touching strangers, and the discomfort of contorting into an airplane seat, I'm DESPERATELY in need of powerful and fun distractions. A good airplane book has a bunch of characteristics: it needs to be a page turner, written in an accessible way (I once tried to read Gravity's Rainbow on a plane and... it was a bad choice), and it needs to be short enough to read entirely within the time of the flight. Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon is a great book for either purpose.
Gentlemen of the Road is set in the Middle Ages and follows a pair of Jewish bandits as they travel along the Silk Road. These bandits, Amram, a hulking Abyssinian axeman, and Zelikman, a gangly Frankish Jew fleeing the pogroms of his homeland, find themselves entrusted with the safety of a refugee Khazar Prince and thrust into a civil war for control of the throne of Khazaria, a middle ages Jewish kingdom. The novel is functionally a beautifully written swashbuckling adventure novel and travelogue.
I would recommend Gentlemen of the Road for anyone looking for a fun, exciting, beautifully written novel to enjoy on a sunny beach. I would also recommend the novel for anyone in need of an easy to read, page turning novel that can be enjoyed in a 3-5 hour flight. It is just about the perfect vacation novel. It's also just a great story and would be well worth checking out even if you aren't currently a gentle person of the road yourself.
The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay
The Yiddish Policemen's Union