- The Tibetan Book of the Dead
Imagine this. You’re on the subway and you have an exam in fifteen minutes. You’re stressed, and you barely got any sleep. In a panic, you rummage through your backpack for notes to do some last-minute studying, only to discover you left your notebook at home. You cry out to God in anguish just as the robot lady announces, “doors will open on the left.”
But then, what’s this? The Tibetan Book of Dead? It immediately calms you by reaffirming that this life is an allusion and we will all be reincarnated in the end anyways, and you go to your exam in peace.
- Catch 22, by Joseph Heller
You’re waiting on the subway platform, preparing for the commute to UofTears. The train pulls up, and who do you see taking up a blue seat with their backpack? That cutie from your tutorial last semester. You whip out a copy of Catch 22, and they are immediately entranced.
It’s said to be one of the most commonly unfinished book in the world, and they’ll be so impressed that you’re reading it they might even give you an awkward smile. Prepare to catch that honey with Catch-22.
- Goosebumps, by R.L. Stine
For the shorter commutes — say, a ten-minute bus ride — you can’t go wrong with the Goosebumps series. My personal favourite is the one where the kid turns out to have been dead all along, but you can pick any one. They’re short, sweet and spooky, and simple enough that you won’t miss your stop because you’re too engaged in reading it.
- The October Country, by Ray Bradbury
But wait, you wonder, what if I have to take several different modes of transport? Like a bus followed by a streetcar followed by the subway followed by a bus again? Never fear, because The October Country is here!
A collection of short stories is the best for this type of journey, because you can read one story per trip, and no short story collection is better than Ray Bradbury’s October Country. From “The Scythe,” the story of a farmer who learns each blade of wheat in his field is a human life, to “The Skeleton,” about a man horrified to discover that there is a skeleton inside him (which, I mean, aren’t we all), these stories are wonderful and I highly recommend them.
- For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf, by Ntozake Shange
I haven’t finished reading this yet, but it’s incredible and I think everyone should read it anytime, anywhere — and that includes the TTC. It’s a series of interconnected poems that can be performed as well as read, and it is the choreopoem that pioneered the form. Detailing the struggles that coincide with themes such as love, abandonment, and trauma, it is a triumph of the written word.