On People Reading in Public

So yesterday I came across this tumblr, Underground New York Public Library. And, fellow readers, it is marvellous! Glory in the gazillions of photos of people reading books on the subway. Complete with the names of the books. It is a truly glorious portrait of New York City. Of what I love about that city.

I am sure if you read this blog you are like me: when you are on public transport you cannot stop yourself from trying to figure out what people are reading.

I have been known to accidentally on purpose drop things so I can bend down to pick them up and thus read the title of the book that’s being held too low for me to read otherwise. Yes, I am one of those dreadful people who reads over people’s shoulders on public transport. I’m just curious is all. Not creepy. Honest!

I love to know what people are reading. Then along comes this tumblr to satisfy my curiosity. And, wow, what a wide range of books. Almost every genre under the sun. Though not that many romances. I figure those are mostly on ereaders. It’s a shame that means they don’t represent in the vast numbers they are being read.

Don’t get me wrong I love being able to read books electronically.1 But it does make it that much harder to figure out what people are reading. And has massively increased my already obnoxious habit of reading over people’s shoulders.

On the other hand it means I will never again have some arsehole being all judgey because I dare to read in public a romance or YA or some other genre certain people like to sneer at. Yes, I have had people say rude stuff to me because I was reading a book they did not deem to be good. Get over yourself, judgey poo heads! I bet you read Henry Miller or Charles Bukowski. I am sorry you are so insecure in your masculinity you have to read misogynist dross like that to make you feel better. Um, *cough* judging people for what they read is wrong.2

I was particularly filled with joy by this picture of two men reading books by women. See? There are men who are brave enough to do that! In public!

There are photos of people reading books by friends of mine.

There are people reading of every age and race and in Polish, Russian, Hebrew and Spanish along with loads and loads of English.

People reading books that I love with all my heart.

I especially love this photo of two little boys with mohawks reading two very popular middle grade titles.

This tumblr made my heart almost explode with joy. And, um, lose several hours pouring over every photos and reading every comment. What? I’m on a break between first and second draft of novel. So it’s not even procrastination.

Happy reading, everyone! What’s the best book you’re read recently? And why did you love it?

Mine’s Sumner Locke Elliott’s Careful He Might Hear You which I adored because it has sharply written dialogue and so evocatively brings 1930s Sydney to life. Also it is heartbreaking. Everyone should read it if only for a masterclass in how to write great dialogue.

  1. In my case I read them on my phone and don’t have an ereader, but, you know, same thing. []
  2. Do not get me started on those who read Ayn Rand in a non-campy way. []


  1. Cassandra on #

    I loved Black Heart by Holly Black and promptly re-read it thrice to bask in its glory. The Unnaturslists by Tiffany Trent is also amusing me with its delightful steampunkyness. At this very moment I am re-reading Harry Potter because it’s July.

  2. Justine on #

    Cassandra: I love the Curseworkers trilogy (White Cat, Red Glove, Black Heart) SO MUCH. Probably the most inventive and beautifully written YA trilogy I’ve ever read. LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

  3. Leahaday on #

    Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neil. its the most funny and original and weird (in a good way) book I’ve read in a long time. The main character is pregnant, and not attractive, but brave and spunky and hilarious. She saves the day and rescues even the idiots who make fun of her. Aliens, boyfriends, babies, ray guns, boarding school on a satellite. Also it’s set in the future. The cover doesn’t represent it so well, I’m really hoping the cover doesn’t turn people off buying it, it looks younger than it is.

  4. Miriam Forster on #

    I LOVE that site! And the adorable girl reading Princess Academy makes my heart happy.

    Probably the last book I read and loved with all my heart was Code Name Verity. It’s perfect in a way I cannot even explain without spoiling the book. It gave me ALL THE FEELINGS. And also I learned a lot about women pilots in WWII.

  5. Eileen Lower on #

    Team Human. It is doubtlessly the one of the two best vampire novels I have read, and one of my favorite books. Admittedly, I have scores of “absolute favorite ever” books.

  6. Kaethe on #

    Best recent read was “A Countess Below Stairs ” by Eva Ibbotson. I loved it because it hits the same sweet spot as Downton Abbey, but also because it reminds me of “A Little Princess” and it incorporates Russian royal emigrees and even carries a whiff of Wodehouse. Totally charming.

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