The Importance of a Good Book on the Train (A Swiftian Satire)

I love travelling by train. For one thing, there’s the scenery which you miss when flying, and the comfortable seats that are nonexistent by coach bus. Unlike the “horrors” of flying or taking a bus, Hollywood is always trying to present train travel with an air of mystery and romance. I mean, didn’t Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy meet on a train? Didn’t Wendy profess her love to Xavier as he boards a train? Didn’t Harry Potter go to Hogwarts…by TRAIN??

And while I have yet to stumble upon a school of wizards by simply taking the train, I’m sure we have all heard some story about a friend of a friend who once met the prince of some random country, or their future husband/wife on a train (or maybe just some hot guy/girl they hooked up with for about a week), to know that train travel is indeed very, erm… magical.

Which is why it’s highly advisable to always bring a good book with you when traveling by train, in case you really do end up sitting next to a prince, your future husband/wife, or some hot guy that you will hook up with for a week. I mean while we are secretly dying (just DYING!) to read about Brangelina in the latest issue of COSMO magazine, would you want to be tallying up your score of HOW GOOD ARE YOU IN BED?*, only to find out that you’ve been sitting next to the cute great great great great grandson of Voltaire the entire time?


Therefore, the key is to find a book that should suggest to the world (aka your seat partner) that you are in fact a clever, highly intelligent person, who would be a delight to talk to. You don’t even have to be reading said book; as long as it’s stratgeically positioned on the pull-out tray table with the book title prominately showing, so that your seat partner is fully aware that you are, in fact, the owner of such a book.

Note: It’s best to buy said book secondhand to give the impression that you’ve read it several times. It should also not be listed in the TIME’s 100 Novels of All Time…because then it looks like you’re trying too hard.

Here are some suggestions.

  • Dangerous Liasons – Choderlos de Laclos
  • Flappers and Philosophers – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Dharma Bums – Jack Kerouac
  • Death in the Afternoon – Ernest Hemingway
  • The Beach – Alex Garland

And now I bid you all, a happy book hunting!

* Why do the quiz on a train, when you can do it from the comfort of your home here.

** Also speaking of quizzes, the last time I took one (err…a really long time ago, of course), it suggested that I immediately dump any guy I date who owns in his posession, a Drake album. I’ve therefore come to realize that these quizzes are actually all created by a psycho ex-girlfriend of Drake, and therefore these quizzes are not credible at all.

*** I scored really high on that quiz by the way.



  1. January 26, 2012 / 9:12 pm

    Hmm I can see what you're trying to say but I don't know how effective it is to be bring reading material that you're just pretending to read. First, if the person does talk to you then wouldn't it be helpful to actually know something about said book? And if magazines are your thing, then by all means do your thing! Its worth missing out on conversation from someone who judges you by your reading material to have something you are actually interested in reading to pass the time.

  2. January 26, 2012 / 11:41 pm


    Good points! I hope you're not taking this post too seriously though as it is meant to be a light read. I take the train quite often, and whenever I pull out a book, I always feel the person next to me glancing over to see what I'm reading (and vice versa), which I thought would make for a funny post.

    I have read all of the books I've listed (own them as well)…and I would definitely recommend them!

  3. January 27, 2012 / 6:12 am

    Ha I love this post, too funny and so true about always scoping out what the person next to you is reading. I think it's great and can't wait to try out a couple of the books on your book list 🙂


  4. January 31, 2012 / 7:11 am

    You've seriously convinced me of the awesomeness of trains (and, after taking a bus from London to Paris this weekend, I can vouch for the fact that they're far more comfortable/conducive to sleeping/more awesome than buses). Love the book suggestions! The Beach is phenomenal, so I'll have to check out your other suggestions!

  5. February 5, 2012 / 1:57 pm

    I'm happy I stumbled across your blog. I'm obsessed with train travel as well and have written about it on my blog. 🙂

  6. February 7, 2012 / 12:44 am

    Jenna – I hope you do! 🙂

    Genevieve – London to Paris sounds like it's going to be an exciting train ride!

    Andi – I'll check it out!

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