Reading the Rails, Part 4: Short Fiction and Poetry

Riding the subway or bus, I have seen a wide array of reading material. Surprisingly, I’ve noticed a fair number of epic tomes: Anna Karinina, The Lord of the Rings, and even a 600+ page Milton Berle biography (in hard cover no doubt). In my books, any reading is good reading, and if you are willing to lug around a pound and a half of paper, glue, and ink, then all the power to you. But it still seems strange to me that commuters wouldn’t opt for a more efficient choice.

Full length novels are more popular than collections of short stories or poetry (translation: they sell better). But when it comes to commuting, short fiction and poetry appear to be the more logical choice. Not only do these volumes vary in size from wee pocket editions to the complete works of fill-in-the-blank, they are… well… short. Being short makes them easy to read on a shorter commute rife with transfers and interruptions. You can limit your daily reading anywhere from a few verses to a few poems; a short story or two to the entire collection. Likewise, a longer commute is just an opportunity to read more of these wonderful and overlooked literary formats.

This week’s Commuter’s Choice:

Got No Secrets By Danila Botha

In her delightfully dark short story collection, Danila Botha examines the lives of drug addicts, emotional cutters, the physically and emotionally abused, and other compelling but tormented characters. While her stories are of serious subject matter, Botha’s story telling technique seamlessly blends tragedy and humour, making this collection a must have for your daily commute.

The Night’s Also by Anna Swanson

Anna Swanson’s collection of poetry examines the struggle of an undiagnosed illness while simultaneously questioning and re-evaluating gender identity. A tall order? You bet. But Swanson’s style and voice are light, inviting, and warm, comfortably drawing the reader in to this nervous, unsettling world. The individual poems range in size, but are generally no longer than two pages, making this a great choice for you daily commute.

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