We talk a lot about the dreaded morning trek to work, but to be honest, I think I've always hated my evening commute way more. When I was taking the train twice a day every day, there was nothing worse after a long eight hours (or more) in the office than stuffing myself into the sardine can that is the New York City subway, holding my heavy laptop on my back the entire way. Even when I finally snagged a coveted seat, I was always way less inclined to pull out a book in the evenings than I was in the morning. That is, until I made it a point to carry essay collections with me.
These books were exactly what I needed to make the most of that often stressful commute, because I could normally read an entire essay in one sitting. If you're looking to fit some reading time in between strap-hanging and train delays, I've got a list of some of the best essay collections for your journey home. These are all some mix of seriously funny or supremely hopeful, and they'll help you forget the stress of your day while, just maybe, actually enjoying that hour long ride home. Hey, you can dream, right?
'So Close To Being The Sh*t, Y'All Don't Even Know' by Retta
Parks & Recreation alum Retta takes her humor the page in this collection of essays that dives into everything from her upbringing with strict immigrant parents to her obsessions with handbags, hockey and Hamilton. The witty, snarky voice she's cultivated on social media is displayed throughout, and she'll have you laughing about everything from pool workouts to wedding attire.
'This Is Really Happening' by Erin Chack
Erin Chack's collection of essays features some of my favorite writing about adolescent love, first periods, and the time she peed herself in class (a universal experience if ever there was one.) You'll be moved to tears while reading about her battle cancer, and moved to a different kind of tears while reading about the rooftop misadventures that almost got her arrested. This one is the perfect mix of hopeful and hilarious.
'The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater' by Alanna Okun
It only takes one viewing of Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman's new show Making It to know that crafting can be an emotional ride. And it only takes one essay from Alanna Okun's book to realize the same thing. She combines her lifelong interest in things like knitting, crocheting, and embroidery with hopeful life lessons she's learned along the way.
'Well, That Escalated Quickly' by Franchesca Ramsey
If there was ever a book that would make you laugh about all the nonsense that happens on the internet every day, Well, That Escalated Quickly is it. In it, Franchesca Ramsey shares her misadventures as a social media star, along with some witty and wonderful advice on making the most of your time online.
'How To Be A Person In The World' by Heather Havrilesky
Before you let the manspreaders of the subway turn you against the world for good, read Heather Havrilesky's book, which is guaranteed to restore your faith in your fellow man. This collection is a compilation of the best of Havrilesky's "Ask Polly" columns, and it's just the sort of humorous, graceful, compassionate and hopeful writing you need at the end of the day.
'We Are Never Meeting In Real Life' by Samantha Irby
No one can turn the mundanity of life's disasters (think: mental and physical illness, the death of a pet, or family drama) and turn them into gut-busting prose the way Samantha Irby can. If you're feeling a little down-and-out during your evening commute, Irby's essays will remind you that even worst days can be weird and wonderful in their own way.
'This Is Me' by Chrissy Metz
If you're looking for essays that are going to offer you both an unflinching look at the real world and unending hope that things will work out in your favor, Chrissy Metz's collection is the one you need to read on your journey home. The actress details her tough childhood with her breakout success and peppers the text both with motivational asides and hilarious mishaps (think bathroom hijinks on the first date.)
'Look Alive Out There' by Sloane Crosley
Sloane Crosley is known for her darkly humorous takes on life, but in her latest collection there is a lot of hope, too. Reading Crosley is almost like falling into a dream-like world of the weird and wacky only to be hit with relatable realness on the very next page. If you want to escape the subway noise around you, this enthralling collection is for you.
'Would You Rather' by Katie Heaney
Katie Heany's book about coming out is also a book about dating in your twenties (bad), figuring out what the hell "adulting" means (really bad), and obsessing over your favorite boy bands well into adulthood. It's a page-turning collection that will make you feel all the warm fuzzies.
'We're Going To Need More Wine' by Gabrielle Union
You know what I really want after a long, stressful day? To have a really great conversation over some drinks with my closest girlfriends. Well, Gabrielle Union's collection is the next best thing. You'll step off the train feeling like you just chatted with your BFF.
'Gross Anatomy' by Mara Altman
Nothing says funny like talk of shaving, body odor, and cleavage, right? At least that's definitely true of Gross Anatomy, which will take you on a meaningful and hilarious journey through all of the strange ways we perceive, relate to, and live in our own bodies.