I recently realised that I cannot enjoy reading certain books while commuting.
Every morning I have a train commute to Amsterdam that takes around an hour. This gives me plenty of opportunity to read, think and sometime just take a good old nap. Even though the locals complain a lot about the trains here, the Netherlands have a pretty good network that spans the whole country. The trains are clean, comfortable and usually on time. And train authority even has a page on reading on the train (“NS en Tijd voor Lezen” in Dutch). I start my day early so the trains in my route are not that busy. In any case, I am in general pleased with my commute and I look forward to the reading and thinking everyday.
Recently, I picked up Saul Bellow’s “The Adventures of Augie March”. This was in my reading list for a while and as it is based in Chicago I was also excited (Chicago has a special place in my heart — even though I never lived there, I spent a considerable amount of time in different neighbourhoods for my dissertation research). This suppose to be one of the greatest American novels but for some reason I just could not concentrate and enjoy it during my commute. I gave it a try for several weeks but then gave up and switched to a more recent book (“Normal People” by Sally Rooney) which I finished within a week. I am still reading “Augie March” but not on the train.
I haven’t figured out the exact reason. Maybe I have been reading more and more recent works so not used to the earlier style or maybe the context? The atmosphere inside the train requires a different type of concentration thus something easier to read or concentrate helps. That is why I also haven’t had much luck with serious/academic non-fiction. I was planning to start “Gravity’s Rainbow” but maybe have to rethink that.
Currently reading (on the train), “The Readymade Thief” by Augustus Rose.