Reading Problems: Magazines in the Car

HighwayThis weekend my husband and I took a longish trip ti visit some mutual college buddies. Because driving in general tends to make me anxious, Pat takes the wheel on these trips, which leaves me with the dilemma of figuring out what to do for the next three hours.

I’ve never had a problem with motion sickness, which was a real boon as a kid. Long family trips up to Maine, and regular treks halfway across Massachusetts, left me with an abundance of time strapped to a seat with nothing else to do but read. This obvious meant I didn’t talk with my family too much, an aspect that doesn’t work as well with my husband. I want to talk to him — after all, he’s the one driving my butt, and he needs something to hold his focus, too.

Reading novels on trips is hard, since regular interruptions — by my husband, the radio, sometimes me — break up the flow, slow down the reading, and basically make the whole endeavor frustrating.  Audio books are out, since we already regularly talk to each other over comedy CDs, and besides, we don’t always have the same taste in reading material.

This trip I packed my two books in the bag (Yes, this was a visit with dear friends, and yes, I brought novels just in case) and slung that in the back with the rest of the luggage. Up front, I placed an issue of my favorite magazine, Mental Floss. I love this magazine because the writing is light and funny, and the information is always fascinating, giving me all the more opportunity to start conversations with the phrase “Did you know…?” But I’ve also noticed that most of the articles are very short. A page, a half a page, a blurb in the corner. The longest ones I can think of take up 3 or 4 usually picture-laden pages, and many of these are broken down into lists.

Basically, this is reading material I can easily stop without breaking the flow, without frustrating losing my place. I can place the magazine on my knees when my husband brings up a topic, and I an slide right back into it when we’re done. Plus, I’m feeding my brain plenty of fun info I can bring up, so it’s not just up to him to break the silence: I noted some intriguing unicorn facts, and flipped back to a blurb on gin to recall what quinine is when we drove past the Polar Soda factory, it’s billboard advertising tonic. And with that, three hours on the highway flew by.

Do you read on car trips? What’s your material of choice?

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