a literary commute

In Singapore I commute to work by underground train—the MRT, as they call it. I’d much rather be a cyclist as I was in Tokyo or even a driver as I was in Borneo, but as neither option is possible here, I’m stuck with the train. It’s not bad though. I live in the city centre and work in the suburbs, so I go in the opposite direction to the rush hour traffic and can always get a seat. And I’m doing something I couldn’t do when I was a cyclist or a driver—reading! I’m loving my Kindle more than ever because it’s easy to carry and hold and you can make the text huge so there’s no need to be messing around with reading glasses. I’ve set myself a goal—by the time I relocate to the USA (in about a year from now) I am going to use commuting time to finish all the free classics I’ve downloaded but have never yet got around to reading. In the last month I’ve read Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds and Phineas Redux, the third and fourth volumes in the Pallisers series, but I’m having a break from Trollope before tackling volumes five and six, and today started on Pride and Prejudice. I know what you’re thinking. Surely a woman of my calibre should have read this classic of the literary canon before now? Well I probably would have done if I hadn’t had to study the tedious Mansfield Park for A’ Level, which put me off Jane Austen for life, or at least for the last thirty-three years. Got through ten chapters of P&P today, and still not convinced. I can’t help but compare Austen with Trollope; she seems mean and bitchy where Trollope is humane and generous, and what’s with all the capitals? (“THAT is a failing indeed!” cried Elizabeth. “Implacable resentment IS a shade in a character. But you have chosen your fault well. I really cannot LAUGH at it.) Is this just a typesetting error on my Kindle edition?

Anyway, this is what I’m challenging myself to read, only during commuting time, in the next year:

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen, Emma

Charles Dickens, Bleak House

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis and Other Stories

Karl Marx, Selected Essays

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Anthony Trollope, The Prime Minister

Anthony Trollope, The Duke’s Children

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2 Responses to a literary commute

  1. louschmoo says:

    Good Luck with that!

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