Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Bus Reading

Barring last weekend's failed attempt at bus reading involving a migraine headache and motion sickness, spending three hours or so on a weekend riding a bus circuit has become one of my favorite ways to relax, and to find time to read, think and pray.

So, I thought I'd give some tips on the best way to have a bus reading experience.
  • Pick the right length of loop.  Only you can know how long this is.  Mine is about three hours.  
  • It must be a loop.  Transferring takes away from the relaxation factor.  You're preparing for the transfer, making the transfer, and then waiting for the end of the route.  The interruptions to the thinking time will not do.
  • Make sure, if at all possible, to sit in your favorite seat on the bus.  Mine is on the left side as you're facing the back, the first bench seat in front of the back doors.
  • A sunny day is the best.  Or a grey day where the sun somehow manages to poke through.
  • A variety of reading materials is essential.  At least two to three options.  You're probably only going to read one, and depending on your speed of reading and your ideal loop length, you're probably going to read almost all of that one, but at least for me, I never know for sure which book it is that's "right" for that day until the loop starts.
  • Resist the urge to check email or facebook on the phone.  I check mine once or twice.  I limit it, because I get on the bus so that I'm reading with focus, away from a screen.
  • Notice the route.  Put down your book and let the things you're driving past stir you to pray.
  • Snacks are necessary.  I recommend chocolate.  Also, a bottle of water.
  • A journal and a pen for both the journal and for marking key passages in your book (well, obviously not if it's a library book!) is also helpful
  • this is a solitary thing.  I was thinking the other day how much I'd like to share this particular pastime with some dear friends, and realized it wouldn't be the same if it wasn't solitary.  I'd never manage to have a friend there and not be conscious of them and what they're doing, even if we didn't sit together and weren't talking.  The solitary time is what makes it an introvert's dream escape.  There are people around for people watching, but they're mostly quiet, and most won't talk to you.
Mostly though, I think think bus reading has to be personal.  It works for me in a way that sitting in a coffee shop or a library or a bookstore wouldn't.  It has the right mix of people and lack of distraction.  It's a place and a way to spend time that lets me relax and enter into my own heart.  Into my love for words and ideas.  Into praying for the important things and people in my life.  Into dreaming and longing.  And my place to do that on the bus is just that, my place.

I hope each of you has one of those places, too, and I'd love to hear what it is for you.


Jenny said...

Fabulous! Is this possibly the first ever guide to bus reading? Brava!

Lisa said...

LOL, Jenny! It may just be the first ever guide to bus reading, since I'm quite possibly the only person around who would think that a fairly self-explanatory past-time would need a written guide! hee hee.

christianne said...



You've known all along how cool I think it is that you do a regular 3-hour route of bus reading, as you call it. I have liked watching you make this a regular thing, and it seems to have become very sacred to you.

This guide speaks my language! It's short and sweet and sassy and very, very practical. I've been learning that I'm a pretty practical person, even though I'm also a dreamer. (Hmm ... yet again, I bump up against the knowledge that personality tests are such a frustrating experience for me because I'm both sides of the left-brain, right-brain, creative-analytical, introspective-outward-loving person!)

I especially like the part where you discuss the need for 2-3 book options. It makes me think of what goes through my mind when prepping for a plane trip somewhere ... or, come to think of it, even when I'm planning to spend an afternoon at a coffee shop: multiple books are a necessity for a variety of choices, depending on mood! :)

Lisa said...

ah Christianne - I thought of you, actually, and how you'd liked the idea so much of bus reading, when I wrote this funny little guide!

and I think the pretty practical thing, despite being a dreamer is something else we have in common (along with the frustration of personality tests!) I once told someone that common sense was my spiritual gift. Of course that conversation came after one in which a friend literally called me from the bus station, informing me that they were moments from buying a ticket and running away from some pretty big challenges in their life, and what did I think they should do? My advice was "Well, if you don't wan the temptation to run, then leave the bus station!" :)

and so glad someone else does the packing thing, and the multiple books necessary so that all moods are suited thing!