Thursday, November 26, 2009

(Mori)Bus Philosophorum: What Not to Read

Despite all its inconveniences and quirks, the bus is my favorite place to read. At home there’s always some other medium blaring but each and every day I have two solid hours to lose myself in a story. I’ve made - and continue to make - lots of mistakes when it comes to choosing what to read, though, so here are a few examples of what makes for bad bus reading:

Books that require translation. At the moment I’m reading Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and it is goood. The problem is that every third sentence contains either a Spanish word I don’t know or, more embarrassingly, an English word I don’t know. Reading this at home with one eye on dictionary.com is ideal. Reading a paragraph 17 times, partially out loud to oneself on the bus, trying to put words in context or guess at their Latin roots is…less than ideal.

Books that induce vertigo. I know I recently mentioned House of Leaves in another post but it especially applies here. Any book you have to flip through, rotate or hold up to a mirror is a no-no. Plus HoL is big and unwieldy. That’s bad too.

Overly humorous or tragic stories.
This is one rule I still can’t bring myself to follow, which means I’m often either laughing hysterically (and looking crazy) or sobbing like a baby (and looking crazy.) Emotional reactions may be personally satisfying but they really don’t endear one to fellow bus riders, who tend to be skeptical, being borderline insane themselves.

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