Sunday, January 2, 2011

Reading/Writing in Transit

I’m currently en route back to Boston, fresh off of my NYC NYE. (Yahoo for internet-enabled buses!) I almost can’t believe how much traveling I’ve done in these past two weeks. I flew BOS > PHL > PHF > PHL > BOS  for a friend’s wedding and then BOS > PHF > LAG for Christmas/New Year’s. (Let’s not forget the long T rides back and forth to Logan or all of the subway travel between my NY friends’ apartments.) Still, I made sure my time wasn’t wasted. I always had a book or two in my purse to keep me company.

Packing novels in my bag is an ingrained habit. Ever since I was little, I’ve loved to read on the move. Plane, train, or automobile, it didn’t matter. If I had to get from point A to point B, chances are I’d have my nose stuck in a book. (I also developed a talent for reading while walking, Belle-style.)

Each mode of transportation provides its own unique reading experience. Trains lend a certain civility to novels, recalling an earlier time as the countryside rolls by. Planes bring on a trance-like state through the meditative humming of jet engines. Cars and buses make me a little queasy, but I try to not let that stop me. Subways, the newest addition to the list, allow for quiet companionship with the other readers in the car. I enjoy them all in their time, soaking up the uninterrupted stretches that are just for words and stories.

My writing also flourishes when I’m in motion. Ideas come easily, in a steady stream. I’m unblocked in the air, over land. Whatever I’m thinking about just clicks. (Case in point: Hastily scribbled notes concerning new blog posts covered the back of my plane ticket by the time I landed at LaGuardia. I spent the first half of this journey transcribing them.)

I can’t quite figure out why so much creative energy is captured between destinations. Maybe the motion stimulates the brain. Maybe it’s a matter of applying focused, undivided attention. Perhaps it’s because “in transit” is a liminal space, neither here nor there. You can lose track of who you’re supposed to be on either end of the journey and sink into another world.

Ultimately, I think that’s why books and transportation go hand in hand: You have to blink back into reality when both of them end.


  1. Interesting observations. I enjoy reading on the move too. ^_^ Not while I'm walking, though. That's not really safe. (Hey, we can't all be Belle. lol)

  2. Well, I've never tried to read, walk, sing, and perform complicated choreography. Maybe if you dare me. :)