Subway Studies

In an electronic age, it’s getting harder and harder to sit down and actually read anything.  Here’s how Corey Robin, a professor in New York City, makes time for it:

“Here’s how I do it. After I drop off my daughter at school or summer camp, I jump on the subway. I ride the rails for three to four hours. Maybe the F train: out to Coney Island, back through Brooklyn, into Manhattan, out to Forest Hills, and then back. Or if I’m pressed for time, just the Q train: again out to Coney, back through Brooklyn, into Manhattan, out to Astoria, and back. Or if I’m in the mood for a change, the B or the D trains: they ultimately take me to the Bronx and back.

I take nothing with me but my book and a pen. I take notes on the front and back pages of the book. If I run out of pages, I carry a little notebook with me. I never get off the train (except, occasionally, to meet my wife for lunch in Manhattan.) I have an ancient phone, so there’s no internet or desire to text, and I’m mostly underground, so there are no phone calls.”

I’m much less of a Luddite than I used to be.  In fact, e-books have been a revelation — not only can I save space, but living here in South Korea I have access to anything within 30 seconds.  (It’s not impossible to find new English language releases at the larger Korean bookstores, but the selection tends to be awful unless you’re into self-help or how-to-get-ahead-in-business stuff or, FSM knows why, Hermann Hesse.)

But I agree that I probably read less “real” literature than I used to.  The majority of my reading these days gets done on my exercise bike at home, which is a bit of a win-win.  And strangely enough, I read more than I expected here in taxis.

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