Consuming content and commuting – at least on transport where you’re not behind the wheel – go together for me, and, looking around me on the tram, for most people.
Whether it’s social, fiction, non-fiction, work-related or celeb infused, people are reading, listening, scrolling and surfing their way through screens and – reassuringly – pages of it.
Whether it’s about productivity, staying in touch, keeping up, zoning out or simply squeezing a little more joy from the day, when I look around me it seems commuters can’t seem to get enough content – myself included.
It’s a New Year and so far I’ve finished one new book and am finding my way through a few others. Not that I’m reading all of them. Having subscribed to Audible a year ago, my life, and my commute, changed completely.
I listened to a female narrator tell, or enact, the story of Tim Winton’s The Shepherd’s Hut as I gazed out of the window of the Number 96 tram on my way to work, tramped up to Princes Park with the dog in tow and walked to the local Woollies to collect something for dinner (I am going through this weird stage where I shop every day like I live in a village or something – don’t know why but I’m going with it for the moment).
If you haven’t tried audio books – and you can get them from the library as well – it may be something worth considering. Although be warned – you cannot multi-task anything beyond gazing out the window of a tram or train or walking the dog with listening to an audio book. I have tried to surf the net or get social while listening to a book and found myself hopelessly adrift at the point in the narrative where everything is unfamiliar and strange and a new character has been introduced I don’t know. Unsettling and a little disturbing.
With a bit of concentration, and presence, the Tim Winton book, in particular, fitted in well with my commute. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s about a journey, literal, psychological and spiritual. A kind of coming of age for a teenage boy – a neglected and abused boy – one that involves learning to trust, to care for and be cared for. Wonderful read.
From outback Western Australia, I’ve travelled to the Wimmera with Mark Brandi’s book of the same name. It’s a psychological thriller that would probably fall into the category of genre fiction. Like a tram ride, it comfortingly has a beginning, a middle and an end. The characters are sharply drawn and, although the author gives enough detail to render them real enough to care for, for me they tend to fall into archetypes that are reassuringly familiar.
Also on the go is a more literary novel populated with characters who, while richly drawn, I just can’t quite get my head around. They behave in ways that are contradictory, fickle and unpredictable. Like real people. This makes for an engrossing read and one which requires a fair bit of concentration. Like miss your tram stop because the 20-minute ride has compressed to what seems like 2 minutes and you’ve been transported to another world, another reality.
So, I’ve also managed to get my 19-year-old son hooked on audiobooks. Yay me. I knew there was a place for books in his life.
Til next time x