Commuting on the subway during peak times is a special, indescribable kind of hell. Squeezing into a packed subway car for a 40-minute commute and slipping underneath the smelly armpits of your fellow New Yorkers will only make you reflect on the Statue of Liberty’s famous words: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Then you realize that bitch was a liar.
The best way to survive a commute is with some type of entertainment — music, podcasts, games and of course, the old classic: A good book. Finding the right novel for your commute can be tricky, so here’s some recommendations based off of what kind of commute you’re facing.
For a quick commute:
You want to be somewhat vigilant if you have a shorter commute. You can’t get too lost in your book unless you want to be stranded in Coney Island. Thus, your ideal book is going to be one of short stories: Easily consumable, not super distracting.
I have recommended David Sedaris’s books here before, and I will only continue to do so because the guy is absolutely hilarious. Try Naked or Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy.
“Eh, I don’t know if I want to read David Sedaris,” you might say. In that case, you don’t even deserve any new suggestions anyway.
But if you’ve already read all of his works three times, then I’d suggest Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness, which is a collection of fiction and nonfiction essays, some light and funny, others dark and unsettling, which are all thought-provoking. It’s written by a young woman who died just a few weeks after her Yale graduation, lending her musings a bizarre sort of profundity.
For the long, unbearable commute
If your commute is over a half hour long, you have plenty of time to spare. You need an interesting book that’ll completely erase your sweaty, cramped surroundings. Obama said his favorite book of 2015 was Lauren Groff’s Fates and The Furies, and can you really ignore a presidential endorsement? This book tells the story of a very complicated relationship, filled with layers and twists and secrets. You think you understand the two young artists’ love for each other, but as the perspective switches, you start to see there’s so much going on under the surface. Your commute will fly by with this book.
If that’s not really your thing, try Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth. It’s like 1,000 pages or something ridiculous and is about the building of a medieval cathedral. Sounds incredibly boring, right? But Pillars of The Earth is somehow incredibly gripping, with love stories you’ll root for, a slimy villain, meditations on justice, heartbreaking battles and incredible attention to historical detail.
It’ll sweep you away.