Books on the Bus
I always have a book with me including when I ride the bus. When I am out and about I prefer to leave the heavyweight tomes at home so my current reading that includes: The Symposium, a dialogue by Plato; The Brothers Karamazov; and the Essais of Montaigne, all of which are left on a table next to my comfortable reading chair.
On a recent morning I was reading the short novel The Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett as I rode the bus headed downtown. Similarly, some years ago, when I rode downtown and back to meet some former coworkers for lunch I took along Gene Smith's slight but fascinating biography of Woodrow Wilson's last years, When The Cheering Stopped: The Last Years of Woodrow Wilson. Now what do these two disparate books have in common? They are both lightweight and easy to carry and it also takes a little less concentration to read them than that required for Dostoevsky or Plato.
While I enjoy reading as I travel I equally enjoy noticing what my fellow bus riders are reading. There are always a few readers on board any bus with more than a handful of passengers. Call me a biblio-voyeur if you will, but I cannot deny my interest. Usually the books are not worth the glance, for the buses are filled with people reading Twilight or its clones, the latest romance novel or some Ludlumesque thriller-chiller (all of which I personally find unreadable - but that's just one reader's perspective).
Not to long ago just after I had finished reading the novel Less by Andrew Sean Greer I was riding the bus headed downtown and the fellow who sat down next to me pulled out the same book - needless to say a brief genial conversation ensued. This reminded me of previous occasions when I encountered people with various reading material including Knowles' A Separate Peace, and Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande. Now those are both books worthy of consideration, in fact I've read A Separate Peace more than once. They provide evidence that there is a bit of gold among the dross of the many books being read on the bus.
It reminds me of yet another time several years ago that I struck up a conversation with someone who was reading No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I had recently read it myself and could not help sharing the joy of the experience by discussing the book with a fellow reader - no stranger, for we were connected by our shared reading. While that does not happen often since I usually have my nose buried in a book, there is nothing like taking books with you and reading them on buses - enjoying them while traveling to and fro.