The DMV isn't an easy place to read. People coming and going. Nervous teens fidgeting, awaiting first-time driving tests. Strangers jostling and making inane small talk. Cranky, reclusive writers taking it all in and not paying for it. Numbers on a screen chanted by a banal computer voice every minute or so, only one of them yours.
Sure, you could go the obvious vehicular-travel-essay route, but if you know you must visit the DMV -- and chances are good it'll happen at least once every few years -- you might prepare for it in a different way. Da-da suggests the following ontological experiment.
People are curious, in more ways than one, especially about what other people are reading. Read a book in public and you're guaranteed to have at least one person in three glance at the cover of your book -- and judge you accordingly. This proportion goes up if there are more women than men. In this light, below are Da-da's top five books, off the top of his head, to take to the DMV, each designed to not only discourage conversation, but to give you a nice and puzzling no-man's-land buffer zone radius, or at least near-total invisibility.
5. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
This is the book equivalent of classical music when it comes to driving away people you don't want to talk to. Note: be wary of using psych books at the DMV; like the DSM-IV et al, tomes such as these can actually draw in PSYCHOLOGY STUDENTS, which might be good, or it might be bad. Da-da married a psychologist, so you do the math.
4. Cracker Ingenuity
This pretty much pegs the people at Da-da's DMV, such that the book is nearly invisible to said patrons, referencing their outward lives so resolutely that they run screaming into the night. In a good way, o'course.
3. The Killer Inside Me
A disturbingly realistic story, esp. these days, and Jim Thompson's best work. For maximum distance, be sure to laugh loudly while reading, fist-pumping and exclaiming, "YES! YES!"
2. Abe Lincoln Grows Up (dust jacket mind-hack)
Da-da was famous at his university for reading this one book over and over again for years. You could find Da-da everywhere, in every shady alcove and every library carrel, his nose deep inside its pages. Thing is, Da-da has never actually read this book. He just borrowed the dust jacket from one of his old childhood books, hiding the books he was reading inside this book cover. He'd even move his lips sometimes when he read, whenever critical people walked by, to give them something to complain about. Many thought him simple and either said something nice, as to a loose mental patient, or snort and not give him another look. The people who were nice to Da-da are still his friends. DMV-ers will probably fall into the former category, but you never know.
NOTE: Da-da also used several incrediby boring and subject-specific dust jackets for use in class... but then, it has to be a special kind of boring. Thus:
You can almost hear the snoring. Which brings us to the #1 Ultimate Book to Bring to the DMV...
1. Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre? Believe it or not, Jane Eyre is a manly and modernesque, two-fisted tome about a former soldier living with his crazy pyromaniac (soon-to-be-ex) wife and adopted daughter in an old dark manse, and how a hot, intelligent tutor he hired falls for him. Slowly. Besides offering up a perfectly opaque and a near-incomprehensible shield for DMV denizens, Jane Eyre is the ultimate Stay-at-Home-Dad book. Why? C'mon, there are (poorly paid) servants who do all the housework and child rearing, with the eponymous Jane doing all the teaching and discipline work, leaving the master of the house free to lounge around and read all day, ride horses with vapid blondes while delivering fey, smoldering glances at everyone. It's a postmodern male dream come true. It's also one of Da-da's favorite books, so it does double duty.
Anyway, this is such a good book, it's easy to forget where you are, which is probably the whole point of reading it, at the DMV or anywhere else, plus it's got a name not easily pronounceable (like Da-da's real name), making folks balk at its cover, not to mention its thickness. Plus, there's the extra added attraction that males don't typically read Jane Eyre, guaranteeting you even more of a witch's circle distance around you -- and an impossible-to-deny allure for that one special someone who'll appreciate it. Not that Da-da needs this, anymore. He caught his limit.