10 Novels to Get You through Your Morning Commute

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It can be argued that New York City is the center of the universe. It is a mecca of commerce, fashion, cuisine, art—you name it and New York City has it. To be a part of the fabric of such a vibrant place is a privilege and anyone living there should consider themselves lucky. However, anyone commuting there on a daily basis should consider weekly psychiatry and a prescription for Xanax.

Commuting into New York City from any of the surrounding Tri-State areas is a special kind of misery. In fact, I’ve often wondered if Penn Station at rush hour was fashioned after the depths of Hell itself. There are few ways to successfully lessen the brunt of this commute that don’t involve alcohol, and while I completely condone drinking and public transit, it’s not always the most kosher option on your way to the workplace. Luckily, during my months of commuting I discovered that reading undoubtedly takes the edge off and if I must say—makes the commute enjoyable (well, as enjoyable as it can be).

Just remember, it’s important to pick novels with captivating content whose characters offer distraction to the bullshit going on around you. Here are a few prime examples of that:

  1. Slouching Toward Bethlehem- Joan Didion

You should really read anything Joan Didion writes but if you’re going to be in New York City after college, then this is definitely the collection of stories for you. She both romanticizes New York while giving a really honest portrayal of what it means to be a young woman in a big, unrelenting place. Her stories deal with love, sickness, growing older, friendship—this text covers it all (beautifully, might I add).

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  1. Helter Skelter-Vincent Bugliosi

Helter Skelter is a true crime novel so if you scare easily then perhaps this isn’t the book for you. However, if you’re really into Law and Order: SVU, consider this the most riveting, tragic, real life version of that. Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecutor in the 1970 trial of Charles Manson and details that experience with this text. If you are unfamiliar with Charles Manson, it’d be best to Google this particular protagonist before reading.

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  1. Every Day- David Levithan

This is truly one of the most unique books on the market today. The overall plot of the novel may seem confusing at first but by the text’s end you are completely enamored. The main character is a genderless 16-year-old who wakes up in the body and mind of different people every 24 hours. This character is forced to make some tough decisions regarding personal happiness and the happiness of the bodies that they inhabit day-to-day.

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  1. Party Monster: A Fabulous but True Tale of Murder in Clubland- James St. James

If you’re at all involved with the festival/rave scene then this book will definitely spark your interest. James St. James hilariously and ruthlessly details the ins and outs of night life in the late 80’s through mid-90’s, up until his best friend/arch nemesis, Michael Alig, commits a murder that brings the entire counter culture to a halt. This book is written directly from real life and has been made into both a documentary and feature film. It’s suggested that St. James wrote the novel under the influence of Ketamine (and a boat-load of other narcotics) so be prepared for a manic narrator.

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  1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a classic. It’s simply one of those books that you have to read at least once during your lifetime. Although the narrator is a young girl, the voice is strong and trustworthy. This text really delves into themes like poverty and the pursuit of The American Dream and even though the book was written in 1943 those themes ring true throughout this country today.

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  1. Lullaby-Chuck Palahniuk

If you’ve seen Fight Club then you know that Palahniuk is no stranger to the dark side of human behavior and Lullaby is no exception. This novel deals with the battle between mortals and the supernatural in a way that is intelligent and cutthroat versus corny and unrealistic.

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  1. The Maze Runner-James Dashner

This novel is set to be released as a film this coming September but before you flock to the theater it’d be wise to capture the plot on the page first. This novel is part one of a three book series and details a dystopian world inhabited by a group of young men all of whom the reader will grow to love and hate. As a side note, Dylan O’Brien is playing the lead role of Thomas in the film and that certainly gives a nice visual while reading the text.

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8. The Average American Male-Chad Kultgen

This book is not for the faint of heart. The language used is vulgar enough to make E.L. James blush, but with that being said it is an incredibly raw and honest portrayal of the inner workings of the male psyche. You’ll be equal parts disgusted and intrigued all the while wondering–“is this really what men think about?”

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9. Looking For Alaska– John Green

If you’re going to hop on the John Green bandwagon, start with this novel first. While “The Fault in Our Stars” was amazing, it has since been tarnished by Tumblr and 13-year-olds on the internet. The female protagonist in this novel, Alaska, is the perfect example of a Manic-Pixie-Dreamgirl juxtaposed by a detergent group of male counterparts. The characters are in their teens, but the tone is so dynamic that you won’t even realize you’re reading about a bunch of 16-year-olds.


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10. Sick City-Tony O’Neill

Tony O’Neill is one of the best authors I’ve ever read regarding the harsh realities of drug abuse. His style of writing allows you to really connect with the characters even if you aren’t familiar with their particular struggling lifestyle. This novel takes place in Los Angeles and is a really cut-throat depiction of the downside of wealth, privilege, and fame.

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Melissa Copelton | News Cult