what your subway reading says about you

Yes, people do still read, if you can believe that. And a lot of people even read on their way to work. There’s no better way to pass the time downtown than with a story so engaging, you almost miss your stop. Books can also be used for more than reading—they can block the crotch of the guy who decided to stand in front of you when there were plenty of empty seats, they can serve as an extension of your hand to flick a nasty rag out of your way, and they can serve as a weapon if anyone gets fresh with you (though novellas kind of suck at this). Just as what kind of bag we carry says a lot about us, so does the kind of book we read. Commence major judgmental moment:


THE GOLDFINCH // You read three books a year, books that were either: a) purchased at the airport; b) loaned from a friend; or c) required for the book club you said you’d never join. There’s no fault in this, you just need to be told what to read and probably haven’t got the time to give it much thought.  May I also suggest: Big Little Lies and Orphan Train.

FRANNY AND ZOOEY // While you appreciate Salinger’s prose, you never really liked CATCHER IN THE RYE because it was too mainstream and played out. WE GET IT, you’re not a phony. You also happened to be very practical. This book is the perfect blend of a thoughtful plot and a compact size. In the eight months I’ve lived in NYC, I’ve seen two people read this on the subway: a nouveau hippie who smelled like Chanel No. 5 and a bearded twenty-something who was deep in conversation with himself. Alas, this title has a cult following that is equally diverse and disapproving.

10% HAPPIER // For the person who wants to better themselves, have a good laugh, and whose capacity to pay attention is no more than two subway stops. Though you may have picked this book up on a whim, you’re surprised to find that you’ve actually started implementing meditation into your daily routine. But you’re still embarrassed to admit it out loud…

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS // Grow up. Like watching reality tv, adults who nearly exclusively read young adult titles must have some form of arrested development. You thrive off of the passion, drama, and awkward situations that saturate the genre, primarily because they’re such a detachment from real life, but don’t feelfake. People who read a lot of YA are also generally guilty of saying that they read, “to escape everyday life, to enter a different world.” As if.

DR. ZHIVAGO // What kind of loser carries this book around all day? You’re going to get horrible posture from toting around this kind of book all the time. And how can you even concentrate on such a book when you’re crammed in a subway car? Are you sure you’re even reading it? Maybe you need to pick up THE GOLDFINCH. You may also be a little pretentious—do you speak Russian? Or did you study the constructs of gender and identity is modernist Russian literature for a semester during your sophomore year of college?

AN E-READER // There are a few options for how this one could play out: a) your kids bought you one for the holidays, so you’re making the most of it; b) you don’t want anyone to see what you’re reading; c) you’re not actually reading anything, you just want to seem like you are. All of these are perfectly acceptable reasons for using an e-reader, because let’s face it, you’re using an e-reader to begin with.

Originally posted on The Happening. 

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