Checking In (and Reading on the Go)

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?)

*There were a couple of books that I ended up reading on my phone because I had to finish the story. Another reason for liking e-books, huh?

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?

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8 thoughts on “Checking In (and Reading on the Go)

  1. I read while commuting too! Train rides are prime reading time. But then my commute has been cut to less than half since I moved closer to the city so I’m not able to read as much. I think romance is a good genre to read while commuting. 🙂

    • I’d love a shorter commute, but you’re right, the trade-off is less reading! My current read is romance – I hadn’t thought about some genres being easier to read than others, I’ll have to ponder that one a bit more..,

      • Romance is always easier for me to get into than any other genre. That’s why I’ve found myself reading more romance than anything else during the past year or so.

      • Interesting, I don’t know if I find any genre “easier” to get into – for me, it’s very much a mood thing. I find it hard to get past the first few pages of a book if I’m not in the mood for that genre…

  2. When I used to commute to work (rode the bus) I read a lot of books that way. Now I read mostly at home, but occasionally at a coffee shop for a change of pace. I like the idea of a bicycle cop so I am going to look for that book. Though I would have thought LA was too big for a bike cop. It will be interesting to see what they do with it! I like the sound of the diversity, too.

    • I tend to read the papers or a magazine if I’m at a coffee shop (or browse blogs on my phone!).

      Would be keen to hear your thoughts on the Hirahara book if you do pick it up – I’ve never been to LA myself but it intrigued me.

  3. I love reading on my commutes as well. I usually stick with classic lit books or non-fiction for the commute since those are easy for me to put down. I try to stay away from reading books I’m really into on the commute because I’ve missed my bus stop a few times that way. 😛

    • Oh, classics sounds like a good pick. Maybe I should look up some on Project Gutenberg.

      I’ve not yet missed a stop (touch wood!) but totally I can see that happening.

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