Reading the Rails – Part 1: Public Transit and Printed Media

I recently graduated from Centennial College’s Book and Magazine Publishing program. In other words, I am basing my future on the written word—specifically, the printed word. As many have thoughtfully pointed out, however, the printed word is an endangered art form (and I realize the irony in stating this on a blog).

Printed media is under pressure not only from other forms of literature, like the internet, e-books, and digital readers, but also must fight with other forms of entertainment, like T.V., movies, and video games, for the consumer’s attention. It is proving to be a tough battle.

I got into publishing because I have an unexplainable love (and obsession) for the printed word. It is an intimate experience. Books and magazines engage the senses: touch, smell, sight, sound, and maybe even taste—if that’s your thing. But who reads anymore? And with the internet now available literally at your fingertips, who reads anything that isn’t digital? I thought that perhaps I was a member of a dying breed. Then I moved to Toronto and bought a metro pass.

Toronto commuters and public transit users have restored my faith in printed media. Every day I see dozens of people absorbed in their books or leafing through magazines. The magazine stands in the subways have a far greater variety of magazines than any of the convenient stores I frequent, and nothing makes a long subway ride zip by like your latest favourite novel or the disastrous exploits of Hollywood socialites.

So, in honour of my fellow paper loving commuters, my blog series will discuss reading while commuting: what people read, books or magazines, the digital reader, and reading versus other commuting favourites, like the iPod.

Even with all the distractions (I mean, have you seen True Blood?), I believe that the written word and printed media will always be around, and the proof is in the hands of those riding the rails.

This week’s Commuter’s Choice: The Flying Troutmans

Miriam Toews’ most recent novel is the travelling tale of Hatti, her eccentric niece, and troubled nephew as they embark on a road trip in search of the kids’ long lost father. It is at once a touching and hilarious story of finding happiness, even if you find it where you least expect. It is a fast and absorbing read, perfect for short commutes. An added bonus: it will probably make your daily commute seem less arduous in comparison to the Troutmans’ multi-national trek.

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5 thoughts on “Reading the Rails – Part 1: Public Transit and Printed Media

  1. I have to second your choice for The Flying Troutmans. It is a brilliant acheivement by Toews—almost simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny and tragically bittersweet. The characters are so-well drawn that they seem to leap from the pages. And Thebes has to be one of the most fascinating and engaging adolescent female characters in all of Canadian literature! A magnificent achievement, and highly recommended.

  2. When I say it is an absorbing read, I mean it. I read it in a day and a half, and only because I had to work and sleep. A Complicated Kindness is my favourite Miriam Toews novel, but this is a close second.

  3. I think portability is very important in a transit read.. because you never have space to read a HUGE book on the subway and you probably don’t want to carry it around all day either.

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