book recs, from the commuters of toronto



Something about seeing a person read a book in public makes me consider every thought they had before they got to here. Do they want to be reading this book? Is it for class, work, a recommendation from a secret crush that must be read to gain their affection? Do they want everyone to see what they’re reading, write it down, and go home and read it themselves?


One of my favorite things about public transit is it’s a place to go where you can see people reading. There’s something about sitting in a subway car full of people involved in reading different books reminds me of how excited I would get in school when we had free reading time.

So, without further ado, here is every book I’ve seen people reading on public transit this week, and a short summary/review of each that I found online. Hopefully, the Torontonians have something everyone will like.


The Burial Hour - Jeffery Deaver


“A businessman snatched from an Upper East Side street in broad daylight. A miniature hangman's noose left at the scene. A nine-year-old girl, the only witness to the crime. With a crime scene this puzzling, forensic expertise of the highest order is absolutely essential. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are called in to investigate.”


Intermediate Microeconomics in Calculus - W.W Norton and Company


“Rigorous and modern—now with calculus integrated into the main text. The #1 text is still the most modern presentation of the subject and gives students tools to develop the problem-solving skills they need for the course, and beyond.”


Getting Past No - William Uri


“In Getting Past No, William Ury offers a proven breakthrough process for turning adversaries into negotiating partners. With state-of-the-art negotiation and mediation strategies designed for the twenty-first century, Getting Past No will help you deal with challenging times, difficult people, and tough negotiations.”


The Shamanic Handbook of Sacred Tools and Rituals


“The Shamanic Handbook of Sacred Tools and Ceremonies is the perfect companion book for all budding and well-practiced shamans, wise men and women who partake in sacred ceremonial, ritual and healing work. It also serves as an excellent introduction into the practical side of earth-centred traditions. As you begin your path as a Shaman, of the 'One who knows', your journey will be one of remembrance as you connect with the oldest and most holistic traditions of the ancestors.”


The Bourne Supremacy - Robert Ludlum


“Reenter the shadowy world of Jason Bourne, an expert assassin still plagued by the splintered nightmares of his former life. This time the stakes are higher than ever. For someone else has taken on the Bourne identity—a ruthless killer who must be stopped or the world will pay a devastating price. To succeed, the real Jason Bourne must maneuver through the dangerous labyrinth of international espionage—an exotic world filled with CIA plots, turncoat agents, and ever-shifting alliances—all the while hoping to find the truth behind his haunted memories and the answers to his own fragmented past. ”


The Devil in the White City - Erik Larson


“Not long after Jack the Ripper haunted the ill-lit streets of 1888 London, H.H. Holmes dispatched somewhere between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women, in the churning new metropolis of Chicago; many of the murders occurred during (and exploited) the city's finest moment, the World's Fair of 1893. Larson's breathtaking new history is a novelistic yet wholly factual account of the fair and the mass murderer who lurked within it.”


I Saw a Man - Owen Sheers


Owen Sheers’ fourth novel is a journey into male bereavement, grief and guilt. Michael Turner is a young and ambitious writer, embarking on a biography of an eminent neurosurgeon who is trying to locate the part of the brain responsible for empathy. Michael is struggling to cope with the death of his wife, Caroline, killed in a drone strike while making a documentary about Pakistani jihadists; at the same time, he has become friendly with his new neighbours, wealthy Josh Nelson, a Lehman Brothers banker, and his perfect family. Michael is “adept at fitting into the lives of others”, and the Nelsons are soon doting on him, showing him off at parties, allowing him to babysit their bright young daughters.”


Gang Leader For a Day - Sudhir Venkatesh


“When first-year graduate student Sudhir Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago’s most notorious housing projects, he hoped to find a few people willing to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty--and impress his professors with his boldness. He never imagined that as a result of this assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade embedded inside the projects under JT’s protection. From a privileged position of unprecedented access, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of his gang as they operated their crack-selling business, made peace with their neighbors, evaded the law, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang’s complex hierarchical structure. “


The White House Connection - Jack Higgins


The master of intrigue and suspense reunites the unforgettable team of his smash bestseller The President's Daughter to stop an unidentified assassin--a woman who walks the streets of Manhattan, stalking the members of a secret political organization...and killing them, one by one.


Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere


“Richard Mayhew is an unassuming young businessman living in London, with a dull job and a pretty but demanding fiancee. Then one night he stumbles across a girl bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her--and the life he knows vanishes like smoke.”


I hope in the currently reading of the people of Toronto you’ve found something appealing. If not, I’m sorry and I’ll try to ride the subway more often.


BONUS - what I’ve been reading on the subway this month:


The Master and the Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov


A book about the devil visiting Russia. Can be read at a surface level or can be dissected for hours. I finished it about a month ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it.


Men, Masculinities and Disaster - Edited by Elaine Enarson and Bob Pease


The name says it all.


Beloved - Toni Morrison


Reading this for class. Pure poetry. ✉


piece by: ellen grace

visual by: ill-ville on tumblr

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