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The secret to a happy life is a short commute 

Or so my boss said, in response to the news that I would be leaving the business to start a new role at Three UK (in Maidenhead, Berkshire – of all places).

At the time, I fully agreed with him.

That commute, after all, was not for the faint at heart. Least not for someone like me who had a habit of moving house just to be closer to work.

FUN FACT: In the four years I have lived in London, I have moved a total of seven times. Three of these moves happened so I could walk to work. I was the anti-commuter…

At the time, I was living in Fulham and working in Chelsea (both west London, for those who don’t know). My commute consisted of a 15 minute bus ride or a 35 minute walk. I would set my alarm for 8am every morning, roll out of bed, and take the 211 into work. I was the definition a skiver.

That was just over a year ago. And lots has changed since then.

Daily commute

Fast forward to today, and my daily commute is a 3 hour journey, with 4 stations, 12 stops, and 2 trains. Oddly enough, I love it.

Here’s the thing: when you have an hour or more to yourself everyday, you’re given the gift of time. And one of the most meaningful ways to invest said time, in my experience, is to read.

In the first six months of my new commute, I finished a dozen or so books that had piled up on my nightstand. Books that I couldn’t find the time to read until I had no other option but to fill the time I had.

I now consider the commute not a chore but a journey. And I fervently look forward to the time where I can sit quietly, with my book (or kindle), and decompress.

Because I’m so smug about all my reading, I thought it best to share some of my favourite books from the past year. If you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments below. I promise to read every single book that is recommended.

My favourite reads

  • Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss — The best book for lifestyle design, productivity, efficiency, and those who really need a reality check from their daily grind. (Especially good if you’re a slave to email).
  • Choose Yourself by James Altucher — You can’t help but love James Altucher. He successfully built some 17 different companies, each time making a fortune, then squandering it all on poker, alcohol and expensive hotel suites. James is a reformed man and offers a similar reality check to Tim Ferriss above, but it’s rooted in heartfelt sincerity.
  • The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk — The definitive guide to social media for cynics. Gary Vee rose to acclaim by setting up Wine Library TV in 2006, since then he’s headed up VaynerMedia and written several New York Times Bestsellers.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl — Frankl is psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. Reading this book will put your whole life into perspective. There’s nothing more really to say.
  • Losing My Virginity by Sir Richard Branson — You have to admire Sir Richard Branson’s hustle. He is a master hustler. Reading this book will make you feel like a hustler, too.
  • Man Down by Mark Ormrod — A former Royal Marines Commando, and UK’s first triple amputee from Afghanistan, Mark takes you through his story of how he was injured, and how his life changed as a result of his injuries. I was fortunate to hear Mark speak at a work event, and he was absolutely amazing. Definitely check out this video if you can’t get the book.

9 Comments

  1. Nikki Reid Nizman Nikki Reid Nizman

    I also have a love for reading and ensure every day to pick up a book for at least 15 minutes.
    I am going to suggest two reads
    Wild – Cheryl Strayed
    It’s her journey of self discovery after the death of her mother
    For pure enjoyment and non educational I also laughed out loud at Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants
    I also love a good commute!

    • Yesss I just watched Wild last weekend with Mark. I will add it and Tiny Fey’s book to my Amazon Wishlist. It’s occurred to me that my recommendations here are all by men, and I need to read more female authors. So these will be two I definitely pick up! Thanks Syd’s mom. 🙂

  2. I’m desperate to read a couple of the ones you’ve mentioned! Here my suggestions:

    – the best village in the world – Aarto Paasilinna

    – eating animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

    – Anna Karenina (just in case you missed it) – Lev Tolstoj

    Enjoy!

    • Anna Karenina – purchased
      Eating Animals – now on my Amazon wishlist
      The Best village in the world – couldn’t find it, could it be The Howling Miller?

      • Uhm no it’s not the same book actually… it might be that it haven’t been translated in English? It sounds wired though, since I’ve read it in Italian (?!???). Such a shame, it’s one of my everytime favourite!!

        • I’ll have to investigate. Going to Rome this weekend. We’re so excited. 🙂

  3. Vicki Vicki

    Great post!
    The last book I read was Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert for a Coursera online class. A classic novel written in the middle of the nineteenth century that reflects the ideology of the times and a woman’s place within. Although it is on many best books lists I don’t know if I would recommend it. I always feel a bit down after finishing a novel so I tend not to read them anymore. I stick to How-to books and videos now…
    If you like podcasts Gary Vaynerchuk’s are informative as well as entertaining.

    • Thanks Mom. Haven’t read Madame Bovary but I know it’s a classic that I should read. I’ll add it to my wishlist…

  4. […] would be enough to kill me. I was certain that I didn’t have the commuting lifestyle in me. But as you recall, I actually love making the journey. It provides a structure, or rather, ritual that I follow […]

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