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NYPL’s new ‘Subway Library’ may make your commute a bit less horrible

Get excerpts of popular books, experience a less rage-filled commute

Courtesy New York Public Library

Riding the subway these days is an utterly miserable experience, where power outages and signal delays are becoming more common than, you know, getting to your destination on time. So any time that someone does something that makes the commuting experience slightly less obnoxious, we’re all for it. (Do you hear that, Governor Cuomo?)

One such commute-brightening experience will hit the subway system this week courtesy of the New York Public Library, which partnered with the MTA and the Brooklyn and Queens library systems to launch a new “Subway Library” promotion, providing straphangers with tons of wonderful, distracting reading material.

A website,, is now filled with hundreds of different books—divvied up into categories like “New York Stories” and “International Tales,” along with genres like YA and thrillers—that have excerpts or “short reads” (of a half hour or more) available for commuters. Titles run the gamut from Patti Smith’s Just Kids to classics like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to novels like Zadie Smith’s Swing Time.

To access it, you’ll have to hook into the MTA’s Transit Wireless system (they’re one of the promotional partners), but the reading material may come in handy the next time you’re stuck waiting for a stalled train for an hour.

To get the word out about the program, the NYPL has also created a special wrap for subway cars inspired by the design of the Rose Main Reading Room, with replicas of its stunning murals and even the chairs found within the research room. Those will be traveling along the E and F lines, with some of them already in the commuting rotation.

And per the NYPL, “Riders who use the hashtag #SubwayLibrary and tag @TWWiFi on Instagram or Twitter will be automatically entered to win one of six prizes (either one of three Amazon Kindle Voyages or one of three one-of-a-kind prizes from The New York Public Library).” Which is also pretty nifty—and something to keep in mind if you get stranded on one of the trains in the next few weeks.