Reading on public transport

Reading on public transport

I do love having a good look at what other people are reading on public transport. Not only does it give me ideas of what to read next, it challenges my assumptions about what I am expecting a particular person to be reading. It’s also made me think about the limits we put, or don’t put, on what we’re prepared to read in public.

I sat opposite someone on the back of the bus into work recently who was quite openly reading Love yourself and it doesn’t matter who you marry. Good for them. I was also squashed into what the train companies like to call a ‘vestibule area’ up close and far too personal with an older suited bloke who was incongruously reading The complete idiot’s guide to barefoot running. Last week on the district line tube home I was sat across from a very pretty and cool girl of about 18 reading Conversations with god

I love having my preconceived ideas about people challenged. I also admire people not caring what other people think about what they’re reading, rather than succumbing to reading Harry Potter in the ‘adult covers’. What’s really nice and unexpected is when conversation between strangers breaks out on public transport in London over what someone is reading. This happens to me a lot on way home from Arsenal games when reading the programme makes you easily identifiable as someone to pick over the result and the game with.

The Guardian had a great idea recently for a book swap where you left your book somewhere public when you’d finished it for someone else to pick up, with a note from you inside (I left my Jo Nesbo in Starbucks). What we need now is a day when anyone reading on the tube is encouraged to talk to anyone else who’s also reading, to ask them about what book they’ve got and why, and whether it’s any good. Come on all you antisocial commuters, it’s only a day!