Cover of "Anna Karenina"
Cover of Anna Karenina 
(Barnes & Noble Classics)
I am long overdue for a new post, so here it is. I hope it was worth waiting for. The end of 2013 was busy for me, what with NaNoWriMo (success!), the holidays and my daughter coming home for a visit. That being said, I've discovered something amazingsomething that has helped me reclaim precious hours every weekday.

Public. Transportation.

I know, I know. Some of you are shaking your heads and gagging a little. You think public transportation is for homeless people and people who have lost their driver licenses, but swallow your vomit and listen: I commute for an hour each week day to and from work. Normally, that consists of me stumbling (or sliding, depending on the weather) down my front steps, chucking my purse into my car, while balancing (sometimes failing to balance) a coffee mug and white-knuckling it to work, trying to find a good song on the radio, or belting out half-remembered lyrics to a karaoke CD. I have been known to listen to an audio book on the way, but they're either expensive, or narrated by a British octogenarian with an ultrasonic, crackly voice (e.g. The Aeneid from the public library).
Cover of "The Book Thief"
Cover of The Book Thief

Enter the commuter train. It's far from perfect. Sometimes the temperature is low in the morninglike in the ones of degrees. Instead of getting in my car and cranking up the heater until I'm toasty, I make a quick drive to the station, tromp through the snow and ice and find a seat that doesn't smell like wet dog. Today a female commute was loudly upset that I sat in her usual seat. Also, it's not acceptable for me to sing at the top of my lungs. But the upside is that after that point, I get to read for AN HOUR. And then again on the trip home. That's two hours of reading a day, peopletwo hours I didn't get before. It's like a snow-soaked miracle.

Although I've had to deal with some awkward public transit momentsthe guy across from me wet-coughing into my face or the lady next to me telling random fellow travelers a story for the fifth time in as many daysI get to read. In the six weeks that I've been taking the train, I've read six books, including:
Cover of Divergent
(Photo credit:.
Veronica Roth Books)

Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Divergent - Veronica Roth
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
Electra - Sophocles

Some of you will understand how amazing this isto find two extra hours a day to read. And I can read on almost anything. I have a Nook, which was a Christmas gifts from a friend a couple of years ago (thanks friend!) on which I have 60+ e-booksmany of which were free, because they are the classics, including The Picture of Dorian Grey and Electra. When I forget to charge my Nook, I can use the Nook app on my phone to access said e-books. I also have a Kindle app on my phone, and Goodreads has some e-books available. I'm currently reading The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on Goodreads. When all else fails, I have real-life, hold-in-your-hand, turn-the-page-with-a-lick-and-a-swish books to read.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
(Photo credit: bubbletea1)
When I get home, instead of feeling angry and defeatedhyper aware that the world is filled with bad people who text and apply makeup while driving or must get in front of you at all costs, I can experience other emotions. Sometimes the other riders get to experience them with me, especially when I'm reading the last few pages of The Book Thief. (Sorry, guy who tried not to notice the tears quivering off my chin.)

What does this have to do with writing? Everything. Reading has everything to do with writing. Reading has everything to do with everything. Reading gives you a better vocabulary, enhances critical thinking, reduces stress and improves memory, discipline and concentration. It also heightens your emotional intelligence. I've read so much lately, I'm an EQ superhero who knows what you're thinking right now. I don't even need to see your face. For more information on how reading can make you superhuman, see this article on The 26 Major Advantages to Reading More Books and Why 3 in 4 People Are Being Shut Out of Success and this article on What Reading Does for the Mind.

The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray
(Photo credit:
Ben Templesmith)
That's right. So because I'm reading more, I'm inspired to write more. And because I'm writing more, I'm inspired (required) to edit more. And I have plenty to edit. Three NaNoWriMo manuscripts lay waiting for me to tackle them and two "finished" novels are waiting for me to fine-tune and query their word-filled pages.

Partly due to my aforementioned discovery, I expect this year to be filled with reading, writing, coffee and awesome.

Happy 2014 everyone.

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