The Mile High Book Club: The April Book Challenge

on Tuesday, April 6, 2010
This month my ongoing quest to force myself into uncomfortable literary terrain takes an unforeseen turn skywards. Indeed, circumstance, rather than a desire for humour or self-abasement, dictates the April theme. I shall be embarking on considerable overseas travel and I don't greatly fancy schlepping piles of books around the world. I do, however, still need to feed my addiction. It is only natural, therefore, that I subject myself to a month of airplane reads; those books one buys at airports, intended for travellers. and the readers of which we tend to snub our noses at in self-righteous mirth. That said, I am always intrigued by airport bookstore bestseller lists. One would assume that they would be replete with works of mindless escapism, and yet there is considerable diversity between countries. Sure, they always have Dan Brown/Steig Larrson/JK Rowling peppered throughout, but other than the obvious few, I am constantly surprised by the weighting towards regional gems. And so for April I am subjecting myself to the will of the international travelling masses with my challenge The Mile High Book Club. At each airport I will buy a book in the bestseller list. I will not, however, have the choice of which book I buy. Rather, at the first airport I will buy the book at number one, at the second it will be the book at number two and so forth. The only flexibility will be in whether it is in the fiction or non-fiction list.

Given that we are already a week into April, I have already begun the challenge. In Melbourne, as I set off on my travels with a backpack empty but for my almost-finished copy of The Magic Mountain, I headed straight to the shop and elbowed my way to the chart shelves. There, at number one on the fiction list, was Lee Childs's latest. I cringed. It looked big. I had sort of hoped to get away with short books so that I could squeeze in as many books of my own choosing in between. I darted around the other side, to the non-fiction shelf and there, like a gift from Alfonse Gangitano himself, was the third book in the Underbelly series, The Golden Mile. If the other two were anything to go by, Silvester and Rule's latest would be another chunk of quintessential gutter Australiana. What better send-off could I get. I grabbed the book, proudly marched to the counter, paid and stuffed it in my backpack. And so the adventure begins...

The Number One Book at the First Airport: Underbelly: The Golden Mile by John Silvester and Andrew Rule.


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