For city dwellers, the commute is a painful fact of life. It doesn't bare thinking about the sheer number of hours I spend and have spent pressed and contorted around perfect strangers, all in the name of paying the rent. That's not even mentioning the Commuter Rage, that unique and uncontrollable sense of injustice when that tourist doesn't remove their backpack, or that banker shoves you silly to steal the seat that's rightfully yours.
The one thing that gets me through is a lifelong passion of mine; the Good Book. Those 45 minutes on the District Line are my perfect window to escape to another place, far away from the condensation, sniffing noses and all-to-close armpits of my fellow Tubemates. But how easy is it to find?
I've come to realise that the Good Commute Book is not necessarily one that's going to win the Nobel Prize. The ideal train read is one that fills you with joy at the extra chapters you can absorb when your train judders to a halt and the driver announces an unexpected delay. It's the one that makes you gasp, dash for your bag and pray you haven't left behind your travelcard as you realise you'd completely failed to notice your stop as a good bit snuck up on you. The truly great Commute Book will take you from that dingy carriage and lift you up, take you away and deliver you somewhere else entirely for the duration of your journey.
What it can't be is a text like treacle. A book that cannot be easily read will leave me with wandering eyes, a tome permanently ajar while I stare blankly out the window. A bad Tube read, one that's turgid and lacks flow or ease will see my arm reach out for that loose copy of the Metro to remind myself of just how miserable these recession-ruled times are. A book that's too clever for it's own good, written purely for academics to profess its greatness, will require too much attention in a time period where your eyes may be partly on the book, partly on signs of movement from your seated Tubemates that the rush hour holy grail will soon be yours.
So, here it is. This is my quest for my next favourite Rush Hour Read. Let the good reads begin, and the bad ones be quietly removed from my Kindle.