Errr… unexpected blog hiatus? RL has been rather hectic recently, and I’ve fallen out of the habit of regular(-ish) blogging.
However, I’ve discovered the pleasure of reading on my commute (nothing fancy, just using the Kindle app on my smartphone). I kind of laugh at the me-of-five-years-ago, who would be politely dubious (at best) about reading on the go, and especially off a small screen. I was never one to lug around a book – a newspaper or magazine, yes, but there was something about the extra weight of a bound book that put me off. Now, I’m reaching for my phone as soon as I reach “my” spot on the train platform.
But my commute-time reading only works for a certain type of book – it may be blinkingly obvious, but the books that worked best for me:
- A book that I could put down whenever without feeling the need to read just one more page or finish the chapter*
- A fairly linear plot with a small cast of characters
- Not too action-packed, though not too boring either (I don’t ask for much, do I?)
I started off with short story anthologies/collections (I have a weakness for themed anthologies – I seem to buy a lot, but never quite get around to reading them, so what better way to start clearing out my e-TBR):
- Mary Robinette Kowal’s WORD PUPPETS: I’ve enjoyed a few of her short stories before (both included in this collection, IIRC). In fact, I’ve probably liked them more than her novels (I thought there was more emotional connection, but YMMV) so I was keen to read more of her backlist. I think the two I’ve previously read remain the strongest of the lot, but I generally liked all.
- WITCHES: WICKED, WILD & WONDERFUL, edited by Paula Guran: This was a collection of older previously-published stories, and more of a mixed bag for me. Liked some, others left me feeling a bit icky and I skipped a couple. (Unfortunately, don’t ask me which – downside of reading on my commute is that I read this book over a long period of time, and can’t remember who wrote which stories now. I may have to return my book blogger badge.)
And then I moved on to full-length novels:
- Susan Dennard’s TRUTHWITCH: I had high hopes for this one following the buzz, but this didn’t work for me. Possibly because the story didn’t lend itself to commute reading – I struggled to understand the magical systems, and the multiple POVs made the story a bit choppy and left me feeling disconnected from all of the protagonists.
- Naomi Hirahara’s MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE: This was based off a rec on someone’s blog (unfortunately I can’t remember who), and the whole LAPD bicycle cop thing intrigued me. I liked the insight into LA communities and politics, and appreciated the diversity portrayed in the book (for instance, differentiating between Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese-American as opposed to all Asian-Americans). However, it got a bit too detailed at times – I suspect someone who’s familiar with the LA geography would appreciate the detail more. I’ll probably pick up the next in the series at some point.
And I’ve just started BLITZING EMILY by Julie Brannagh (like the previous two, also a new-to-me author – maybe I should add that to my commute reading criteria?). I found the beginning a bit slow-going and very much romance-by-numbers, but am continuing for now!
So that’s my newly-discovered joys on reading on the go – do you have any tricks when it comes to selecting reading material for your commutes?