17 Again. Pathetic, right? Another example: Mike, who's forgotten more about movies than most people will ever know and who frequently watches really obscure foreign language and artsy films, admitted to being moved to tears at the end of the laughably bad Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan film Freaky Friday. Enough said.
The reason for this is easily explainable: When you're trapped on a plane and have nothing better to do, of course the movie's going to look good in comparison to staring at the back of the seat in front of you.
I'd never really connected this theory to books before, but now that I think about it, it certainly stands to reason that the same better-on-a-plane phenomenon is true. Most people identify the "plane read" with a low-concentration, breezy book. Of course I would agree with that, and despite my book snobbishness, I enjoy the occasional genre fiction at 35,000-feet as well. But there is still a spectrum of quality, even among plane reads. So does reading a bad low-brainer on a plane make it better than if you'd read it at your corner Starbucks?
The Third Option. Judging in retrospect, by just about any objective measure, it's a bad book — it's poorly written and the plot is preposterous. But on the plane I got about two-thirds of the way through the book, and was totally lovin' it! When I picked it up the next day laying on my couch, I skimmed and laughed (at it, not with it) and laughed and skimmed until I was finished. I couldn't believe it was the same book. It was as if Plane Greg had tricked Couch Greg into looking forward to reading it again.
Another example is Jonathan Tropper's How To Talk To A Widower. Now, this book actually is solid, but the plane elevated it to a level whereby I literally got choked up a few times and laughed out loud more than twice — which is totally out of character for me, a rather even-keel reader. The Plane Theory worked to turn this book from a good, readable novel to a novel practically on par with Don freakin' Quixote in my recirculated-air-addled mind.
So, what's your take? Anyone else noticed this phenomenon? Have there been books in which you were totally absorbed on a plane, but which were complete bores on the ground?