Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Airport Novel: worthy of praise?

To quote Wikipedia, an airport novel is basically defined like this:
"Whatever the genre, the books must be fast paced and easy to read. The description "airport novel" is mildly pejorative; it implies that the book has little lasting value, and is useful chiefly as an inexpensive form of entertainment during travel. Airport novels are sometimes contrasted with literary fiction; so that a novel with literary aspirations would be disparaged by the label."


What? Are you kidding me?
When people refer to a book as being an airport novel, my first reaction is, "Eww - trashy" and I *cringe*. But you know what? That is NOT a fair reaction!
These so called 'airport novels' would be damn hard to write! In my opinion, the airport novel does not deserve the ridicule that some people, especially other writers, give. It's not trash, it's treasure. And you know why?
The airport novel is the written form of a pop song. And it's not easy to write a pop song, believe me, I know first hand. It takes TALENT to write a song that is loved by the mass market. And it too would take TALENT to write a faced-paced novel that someone would enjoy reading while waiting for their plane to board. Something that's not too heavy, but entertaining enough to keep you hooked and consistently turning the pages. Don't you think?
So, if someone pulls a face, cringes, or puts someone's work down by calling it an airport novel, give'em a little slap, and say: "Let me see you try to write one!"

So, how do you feel about "airport novels'?

33 comments:

  1. Well, I can't stand literary novels, so these so-called airport novels are the best ones to me.

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  2. It's all good, writers should know how to work the pacing, but I occasionally like literary stuff to learn about the character crafting.

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  3. I have always had a love affair with the idea of 'airport novels' and pulp fiction. (I know, two different things.) But that trashy side of literature appeals to me, for some strange reason. I don't really read them, I just like the idea of them.

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  4. The same way I feel about every other published novel--they are doing something right, so who am I do say anything?

    No matter what you write, it's hard. Everything from childrens books, to catalog romances, to magazine articles, to instruction manuals. If you've written something and it's been published--you've done something special. ;-)

    ~JD

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  5. I don't change what I read depending on what I do... And when I travel I bring my own books.

    That said, I don't think there is an actual airplane book (except in some people's minds). I've seen greats and flops in airport bookstores, just as I would in a regular bookstore.

    A good book is a good book, where ever you find it. : j

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  6. I can't say much because people read them, and I've picked them up a time or two.

    I'm with Justine, they are doing something right so why judge them. I enjoy a good read, even if labeled as an airport novel.

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  7. I don't know that I've ever read an "airport novel" before. Where do you find them? Most airports I've been too have the NYT best sellers...

    Oh well... Great post. And I think it would be hard to write a book no matter what the content.
    CD

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  8. I prefer literary novels, and have been guilty of this comment about airport books. But, I do read them all the same! And truth is: I haven't written a complete MS or been published, so who am I to judge?

    Michele
    SouthernCityMysteries

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  9. Ditto. And, um...just miss you.

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  10. I've read them a time or two.
    Can't criticize them--after all they're published and I'm not. They must have done something right.

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  11. I'm in the camp of bringing a book to read when I travel. But they must be doing something right to be published.

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  12. I'm an equal-opportunity reader. I couldn't imagine my reading life without those so-called "airport novels." I've read my fair share of heavy literature, and sometimes you just need breathing room in between.

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  13. I’ve never heard the term before. I usually have my book in hand before I reach the airport.

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  14. I read a pretty wide variety of books - definitely some of the 'airport novels'. As long as the story is fun and the characters are real, I'll read it! :)

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  15. >> "Don't you think?"

    Nope. I try not to. Just gets me into trouble.

    But as far as "Airport Novels" are concerned. C'mon! Let's be honest here, cut the "writer empathy" stuff and call a spade a spade. "Airport Novels" = "Lady GaGaism" (i.e., the trash du jour).

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  16. Well, I can't say it's what I read, BUT you put out a good argument for those poor little things. A balance has to be struck, and that's no easy task.

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  17. The lowest form of literature is the magazine. That's what people usually read on airplanes.

    Any novel that can hold your interest is a success, even in its imperfection.

    - Eric

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  18. The books can be a lifesaver on a long journey, so I would never knock them.

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  19. Yeah I agree. People like to judge without reading between the lines! (yeah, that was cheesy)

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  20. Love them.
    That's the kind of escape I want when I travel. Something fun but interesting and tense enough for me to want to finish.

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  21. I've never heard the term "airport novel," but I think any fast-paced plot with interesting characters that keep me turning the pages is a work of art. Period.

    :D

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  22. Most enjoyable to read.

    Must get an "Airport Novel" when next I go flying.

    Yvonne.

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  23. I have never heard of airport novels either. I usually pick a book I am biting at the bit to get at for my journeys. It is a habit that has never let me down. Having said that, I think any novel that keeps you, turning the pages is a good novel. Wishing I could be so lucky as to publish one.

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  24. Jessica-My last airport trip I looked at the books and the airport had the top 10 NYT best sellers and the top 10 NYT PAPERBACK best sellers, and then another dozen. What I noticed was the overwhelming presence of Thrillers. And ANYBODY would write a thriller if they could... a novel nobody can put down that averages 50K MORE than any other genre--hell yes. Sign me up. DAMN hard to write. I think the big difference for airport novels is the gender thing... in an airport you have books 'even a man would read' *cough* (but that translates to financial success)

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  25. I don't usually read literary fiction, so I guess I read airport novels all the time! And, I suspect, all of my WIPs are airport novels, since I write what I like to read :)

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  26. A good portion of the books on my shelf were purchased at airports. And I LOVE fast food!! :)

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  27. I love airport novels! Did you pick one up? Which one?

    Hart...YES! Thrillers are huge and exactly what I love :-)

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  28. I think my entire personal library is made up of airport novels... I like my novels like I like my movies...fun, fast-paced, entertaining and shallow.

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  29. Airport novels? Most of the authors on bestseller's lists and laughing all the way to the bank. I LOVE airport novels!

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  30. At least the authors were published and they got a buck from someone. When I'm reading in public like that I want an easy read that doesn't require to much thought. Heck, I might miss my plane.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  31. Awesome award for you over at my blog :)

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  32. Great question, Jessica! I think that if it gets people reading and (hopefully) branching out into more and more books, then it's a good thing. No matter what kind of book. No matter the genre or where it's found.

    I hope you're having a great vacation!

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  33. I think airport novels are being purchase in greater numbers than high-brow books that sit on bookshelves at the back of B&N, so I'm not gonna hate!

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