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MTA encourages NYC subway riders to get literary with free e-books

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A collaboration with Penguin Random House makes lit accessible for subway riders

Your commute may not be getting any faster, but on Sunday, the MTA rolled out a new program that could make it more enjoyable. A collaboration between the transit authority and Penguin Random House, Subway Reads is a "web platform that can be reached from a subway platform," explains the New York Times. "The idea is for riders to download a short story or a chapter and read it on the train."

The selections are even organized by length of time it’d take to read a chapter, so you can coordinate your cultural consumption to the length of your commute. Got 10 minutes? Try Gary Shteyngart. Got 30? Give Jennifer Egan a go. (Optimistically, the read-time options top out at 30 minutes. Something to aspire to!)

For now, the Subway Reads is stocked with five novellas or short stories, says the Times—"e-shorts" in Penguin Random House parlance—including both contemporary offerings (Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Alexander McCall Smith) and literary classics (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe).

If you’re not a completist, there’s also a smorgasbord of excerpts to choose from: Michael Chabon, Nora Ephron, Colum McCann. Robert Caro, if you’re feeling ambitious and biographical. Unlike regular e-books, Subway Reads are all free.

Like all good things, though, the program won’t be around forever. Designed to promote Wi-Fi service in 175 underground stations, Subway Reads itself will run for just eight weeks—so get cracking.