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.