Saturday, April 18, 2009

Public Reads...

Now a fair while back at the beginning of March I did a blog about ‘Conversation’s About Books’ one I had overheard in a charity shop and the other on a tube. Rather than make you go all the way back to the blog (though I have put the link up in case you should) I have copied, pasted and edited one of the conversations that took place on the tube and then gave me a little project. So here it is with a lovely picture that I think sums up today’s post…

I took the Non Reader to see ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ which is on tour and afterwards on the way home I couldn’t help over hear (as they were talking very loudly and a little merrily) two friend’s one male one female and their conversation which suddenly turned to books. He asked her what she was reading to which she replied ‘The Journey or something’ only to then pull out The Return by Victoria Hislop a book that I have to admit I have quite fancied reading. She explained it was ‘about the civil war in Spain, I was going to give it to my mum but its very sad and she’ll probably cry, so I think best not, what about you?’ He suddenly produced the most delightful 60’s copy of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which he’d ‘just finished today actually, its dead good, a classic, everyone knows it’ sadly she didn’t but he gave it to her. I almost had to stop myself from reaching across and snapping it out her clutches for the delightful old cover alone. This conversation made me think, on the walk home from the station that I should partake a study of what people are reading on the tube. I work from home normally but have lots and lots of trips to town in the next seven days, and a train journey to Manchester and back next weekend, so ample opportunity. I wonder what insights this week will produce.

…Well it produced a lot however partly as no one was on the train to Manchester that weekend and also this was back in the very early days of me getting a Blackberry and where I stored this list of books I have absolutely no idea, I simply cant find it. So on Thursday I was thinking of things I could blog about while I took part in this weekends Savidge Reads Big Weekender (which is Walter de la Mare’s Memoirs of a Midget should anyone pass a bookshop and want to join in) as I will be reading so much, so I thought I would make the pact again. As of Monday will note down (on a pad me and my Blackberry get on very well now but it cant be trusted) all the books I see people reading on the tube over the top of which ever book I am reading on the tube. I have received two lovely new candidates today Virago have sent me All the Nice Girls by Joan Bakewell (as she has become an acclaimed book critic it will be interesting to see how she fairs) and I received a lovely book from its author this week after the lovely Karen Campbell asked me if I would read her new novel After The Fire so you may well see me with these and a notepad peering at you from the corners of my book.

I did look at what people were reading on Thursday and Friday and mainly it’s, you guessed it, the Twilight series. No comment. I was very pleased to see lots of Kate Summerscale’s wonderful ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’ being read most diligently and by a lot of people in 48 hours. Did I see anything I myself haven’t read and now want to? Well I did see one book and that was ‘A Pair of Blue Eyes’ by Thomas Hardy a book of his I have never heard of before but the girl reading it looked deeply engrossed and that sold it to me. If someone is reading something devotedly on the tube and I can’t see what it is it drives me to distraction. I will tell you some of the slightly strange lengths I have gone to discover just what book it is when I report back next weekend. What books have you seen people so engrossed reading you have to pick up a copy yourself? Have you ever bought a book just because you have seen a lot of people reading it on your travels? Do let me know?


Sandy Nawrot said...

Well, there is crap for mass transit in Orlando, so I have to resort to spying people reading in the coffee shops. There are so many Twilight books out there, but other than that, there really is no common theme. In fact, I see more people on laptops than reading. I am currently reading "Night" by Elie Wiesel, and have received about a dozen unsolicited comments by just carrying the book around. Apparently I am the last person on earth to read it?

Frances said...

This is a constant source of fascination for me - what other people are reading. And I am more and more drawn to the idea of blogging about it as you have done so well here. The biblioblogging community sometimes supports a homogeneous taste in books (not a criticism), and it is always interesting to see what the person on the street has picked up - Twilight obsessions aside. Call me crazy but lately I have almost asked several people if I could photograph them reading. Not people I know mind you. Strangers. Might start doing it anyway, nutty appearance unimportant.

Juxtabook said...

Most of my work travelling was doen in the vincity of Burnley and on buses, and frankly there was not much reading going on. When teaching I did used to take great interest in what the kids read when we had private reading lessons. I did on occasion borrow books from the kids - I read my first Jacqueline Wilson that way. The first time I heard of Philip Pulman was in the hands of a lovely boy in year 8 (aged 12). He couldn't put it down even when we stopped private reading and started something else. He was not normally a kid that disobeyed and I was so tempted to say, "Take your chair and sit in the corridor; if it is so good then just keep reading." I thought I might get in trouble with the head so I bottled it and made him put the book away. I wish I hadn't now!

Kim said...

The one and only time I ever bought a book that I saw sombody else reading was when I was living in the States. I was on my way home from a massive trip, very tired and grumpy and I saw a woman standing by the baggage carousel at Memphis International Airport with a book in her hand, so engroused that she cared not one jot about looking at the bags. The book was 90 minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. I asked her if it was good and she gushed about it so much that I bought it when I saw it in the bookshops the next day. Wish I hadn't, I got about 10pages in and realised my mistake. I have never done that since.
Like you, I will go to extraordinary lengths to see what somebody is reading but not sure I'd take photos like Frances plans to - (good luck with that, Frances).
Can't wait to hear the stories about what you do to see book titles, Simon.

megan said...

What a great photo!

I must say, on the trains and buses here in Sydney, the reading material has pretty much been exclusively the Twilight series since at least last December, particularly amongst young women.

I'm not really one to talk, since I devoured that series, but I would never have read the books on the train ;-D

Sarah said...

I love looking at what people on public transport are reading. If you're similarly interested you should check out the blog
which is photos and interviews with people the blogger sees reading in San Francisco.

A Pair of Blue Eyes is a marvelous novel which as a Hardy fan I was pleasantly surprised by as I hadn't heard much about it either. I posted my thoughts here (
Highly recommended and glad to hear someone else was reading it!

Savidge Reads said...

Sandy - I loved Orlando when I was there oh am now jealous. Why is there all this Twilight stuff everywhere... actually I wont start on all that as I might not stop. I havent even heard of 'Night' so you're definately not the last.

Frances - That pciture was just one I found on the web, I did sneakily gets some pictures of people reading with my phone but was worried might get sued. if had asked them it wouldnt be so natural.

Juxtabook - I find kids thoughts on books great. My sister is only 10 and she gives me great insight to books (she is quite an advanced reader - and loves books more than anything). If it wasnt for my step sisters I would never have read the first Harry Potter.

Kim - Oh no thats a horror story of book buying! See I wouldnt really buy a book new I had seen someone reading on the tube I only do that with people I know, my Gran and mother and some of you delightful fellow bloggers.

Megan - I love the fact your a secret Twilight fan thats hilarious.

Sarah - Thank you for both those links I shall be looking at them shortly! I havent read any Hardy (please dont judge me) what should I start with?

Kim said...

Simon, my first Hardy experience was with 'Jude The Obscure' ----- it is such a twisty/turney book. I loved it instantly and could not put it down. It also made me look out for everything else of Hardy's I could find, however, never came across "A Pair of Blue Eyes". Would be really interested in what Sarah recommends for your first Hardy read.

Sarah said...

I love Hardy, and find it hard to recommend just one of his books!

I'd say try Far from the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbrige first.