The slow train to literary heaven


There was a time in my life, a few years ago, when I read for four hours every day. Three hours on the train to work (there and back again) and another hour before bed. I read an average of three books every month. When I ran out of books and didn’t have money to buy more, I’d just re-read the books I set aside for re-reading.

I didn’t know then that this was as good as it would get in my ‘career’ as a reader.

It has been a while since I read a book from cover to cover. I thought at first it was because I moved cities, started a new life and didn’t commute to work anymore. But having started a new job which comes with a long, long commute — an hour and fifteen minutes each way — I thought I would go back to a book a week again.

But a bus that twists, turns, swerves and honks has nothing on a train that doesn’t make any sudden moves. If anything the gentle lull from side to side is more soothing than sitting in a bed with the covers up drawn to your knee.

A train is a thing of beauty, dear reader. You’re going somewhere but as long as you’re inside you’re going nowhere. Life is ‘happening’ but you’re not going to be part of it until you reach your station.

The train is, without a doubt, the best place to read epics and and fantasies and mysteries and romances because as long as you’re on it, there’s nothing for you to do and nowhere for you to go except forward. Which is perhaps the best direction in which to be if you want to read, isn’t it?

I’ve stopped reading since my days commuting on the train. The bus is too loud and noisy and sunny and hectic. But there is still some hope for me, I suppose. I’ve started listening to audio books.

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