A listicle by Kate Lomas Glendenning
As a student, I spend countless hours commuting on the train. Over the years, the view of the slowly changing houses and indifferent passengers became boring, so lately I’ve decided to change things up! Despite a bag full of textbooks and folders, I am still able to squeeze a book amongst the chaos. Instead of grabbing a book off my nightstand, I have decided to match the setting of the book to my own. If I am going to read on a train, why not read a book set on a train?
1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
How can this book not make the list? It has been on my TBR list for some time, but I worry the hype that surrounds this book might be a major let down. We all have that book/movie/TV show someone recommended to us that they built up to be this amazing piece of art; unfortunately, the work hardly ever lives up to this great expectation. Maybe it’s time to put my expectation aside and delve into this book during my daily commute. A girl on the train reading The Girl on the Train is too good an opportunity to pass up.
2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
As a person who occasionally suffers from travel sickness, reading about the swaying carriages and uneven tracks had my stomach turning. Water for Elephants is a beautifully descriptive tale about a young man who joins a travelling circus. The 1930s gritty setting was so vividly described I felt as though I had fallen into a different time. While reading the book on the train, I imagined myself crammed on board the circus train as it made its way down the never-ending tracks.
3. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
The last time I read this book was when I was a little girl. My grandma had sent a box of classics over from England. Amongst the copies of classics, was a lime green copy of The Railway Children. In comparison to the other books, The Railway Children isn’t set on a train but on the tracks next to the train. The train itself is the point of fascination for the children. Reading this book on the train made me a bit more aware of the surrounding passengers—not because I was reading a children’s book—because the book is concerned with the allure of the train. When I read the book at the station, it felt more fitting. The anticipation of waiting for the train and watching it barrelling down the tracks was in keeping with what the children experienced.
4. Le Transperceneige (Snowpiercer) by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette
This graphic novel has been on my TBR list for a long time. After the world freezes over, the last survivors travel on a train. The train is comprised of numerous carriages that represent a social hierarchy: lower class at the back and high class at the front. The front passengers are treated to a luxurious lifestyle whilst the passengers in the back and forced to live in cramped, dark conditions; however, as the lower-class passengers become angrier over their treatment, things start to change … I love the concept (like Water for Elephants) of the characters living on the train and adapting the surroundings of a commuter carriage into an everyday setting. I have a feeling this is not a novel I will want to read on the train alone at night.
I hope this listicle has inspired you to try and read a book with a similar setting to your location! I found this technique moved reading the book from a solely internal to also an external experience. There are some books I would not recommend matching the books setting to your location (I considered reading The Hunger Games in the park and realised a bunch of screaming children running towards me might inspire a heart attack.) Enjoy reading, but be safe!