I’m heading out to Chicago this week for a work trip. I’d whine about it, but it’s for a convention where I’ll get treated to great dinners, a trip to see Second City and spend some time over at Navy Pier. These are things we shouldn’t whine about.

My work tends to take me somewhere once every four to six weeks. I’m like the standard mailing processing for anything you buy on late-night TV. This means time sitting in airports and long flights. Some people break out their laptops or iPads and type away on flights. I don’t. I read. It’s like the sacred time of every business trip.

There’s a catch though. You have to have the right book. Now, the easy answer here is to just bring the e-reader of your choosing. The problem there is you have to turn it off for take off and landing. Every time — without exception — I have to turn off my e-reader with 10-15 pages left in a book. This means I’ve decided paperbacks are perfect for airline travel.

I have a stack of my must reads for this month and need to pick out three of the paperbacks to come along. (The e-reader comes, too, for non-flight goodness.) Making the selection of the three for this Chicago trip is no easier than any other. But I have learned a few things.

No Zombies Allowed ... at least on U.S. commercial flights.1. No dystopian zombies or speculative fiction based around viral outbreak. You’re locked in with the others on your flight for the duration. The last thing you need is to think one of them is secretly infected with a virus that flip them from human to zombie. A good book sucks you in and, at times, will creep you out with its plausibility. (I’m looking at you Feed by Mira Grant. Brilliant novel. Feels incredibly real.)

2. Choose romance titles with care for longer flights. The more the guy sitting next to you drinks, the more likely he is to make lewd comments. Or ask if you only read books with half-naked men on the covers. (This has happened.) This isn’t to say I’ll avoid romance novels — I’m bringing Jeaniene Frost’s Once Burned on the Chicago trip — but a general warning.

3. Never bring a hardback. It makes your bag heavy, is awkward to hold while tray tables are in their full upright and locked positions and never fits properly in the back seat pocket should you need to make a bathroom run. However, it could make a good weapon if zombies break out on the flight.

I may change my mind before I pack, but current picks for the Chicago trip: Once Burned, The Taken by Vicki Pettersson and Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander.

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