Tag Archives: Commuting

Five books to read on the TTC

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

How to make the most of that dreaded commute to campus

I’ve had my fair share of commuting in undergrad. Half of my time spent at school was commuting approximately an hour-and-a-half to two hours to get to class. At first, I found the journey annoying at best and dreadful at worst, but over time, I somehow managed to make it work.

Everyone has their own routine and rhythm when it comes to commuting. Some people enjoy the hustle and bustle of rush hour, while others try to avoid it at all costs. Here are five tips for everyone to make the best of your daily commute:

1. Meditate – I typically try to avoid sleeping during my commute because of the fear I’ll miss my stop – it has happened before, unfortunately. The next best way to relax and let loose is mediation. If you can muster up the courage to close your eyes and breathe deeply in front of a bunch of strangers, I highly recommend meditating. You could meditate on your own or use an app that walks you through the steps. I personally use the popular app, Headspace, but there are plenty of options out there. It’s a peaceful way to start and end the day.

2. Listen to your favourite podcast – There’s not much you can do on those packed rush hour Subway cars but listen to podcasts or music. If you drive to campus, you’re in a similar boat. My advice is to reserve one of your favourite podcasts specifically for your commute, that way you have something to look forward to. For me, this pod was Song Exploder, but choose whatever suits your taste. Also, if you can afford it, noise cancelling headphones are the way to go. If not, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives that will do the trick.

3. Do your schoolwork – This one’s a little tricky for those who drive in, but us GO Train-er’s can appreciate the beauty of the quiet zone to get a little work done. I wouldn’t recommend finishing your readings if you are prone to motion sickness – I, for one, can’t read on the bus – but your commute is a great opportunity to squeeze a little work at the beginning or end of your day.

4. Socialize – This tip is great if you know someone who has a similar commute. If you have a close friend who gets off at your stop, you definitely lucked out. I’m fortunate that my parents and I share the same commute into the city so, even if we don’t always talk during the trip (again, quiet zone), it’s still nice to spend the time with them. Additionally, for one year, my partner and I were both commuting west of the city and we took the opportunity waiting for our trains to just hangout and de-stress.

5. Catch up on the latest news – During my years commuting, I spent every morning reading the Globe and Mail and skimming through my New York Times daily email newsletters. During the day, I would pick up a print copy of The Varsity and read it on my travel home. If you drive, I recommend listening to CBC Radio at 99.1 FM – Matt Galloway’s Metro Morning is the only thing I want to listen to when I’m rubbing sleep out of my eyes. For those who prefer to check the news on your phone, I would recommend get an app like Pocket which allows you to download news articles and read them from your device when you lose your internet connection.

6. Celebrate the beginning or end of the day with a nice beverage – If you know me, you’re well-aware I’m a big fan of coffee. I often grab Tim’s before my morning commute and a decaf from Union Station’s McCafé for the way home. Occasionally, I’ll grab another drink like a Booster Juice or even just fill up my water bottle. It might seem excessive, but having a drink during my trip somehow made it just the slightest bit nicer.