Book Cover Voyeurs


I do it. I crane my neck to see what my seatmate or the guy across the aisle is reading. When filing toward the exit, I check out the tops of book pages to glimpse a title or author name.

Once I noticed two men, only a seat away, reading the same book. I resisted the urge to suggest that they get together for a little train book club.

Another time, a woman was going to such obvious lengths to hide the book cover (folding the book back onto itself and checking the make sure that none of the cover was showing, obsessively flattening it, cover down, on her legs) that I knew she as reading 50 Shades of Grey.

I love public transit for the book voyeur opportunities. Can I tell you how excited I was when all the men in the train started reading The Hunger Games? Thrilled!

This Chicago Tribune article talks about how ebooks are changing this game (the spying game, not The Hunger Games) . I’m sure that surprises no one. I’ve even heard that bodice ripper sales are up thanks to the fact that no one knows what you’re reading. But what I like best about the article is the PDF at the bottom…book sightings by El stop.

I’m a little bummed, though, because the article is no longer linking to a larger version of the PDF. Hopefully that’s a fluke they’ll clear up soon. In the meantime, squint at fuzzy words on the map below!

The map of the El with book titles by stop. i.e. Blue Line Monroe: Mary Shelley's Frenkenstein was spotted, being read by a 20s burn out who looks just like Gerry Garcia.

Reading the Rails Chicago Tribune Infographic – sorry, I can’t find a larger version


2 thoughts on “Book Cover Voyeurs

  1. Kim

    I’ve met some fascinating people (and gotten great book recommendations) because, with e-readers, I CAN’T see what others are reading. Yes, I ask them. When they look up, it’s obvious if they want to engage. I’ve yet to meet a book-lover who isn’t eager to share a list of favorites.

    • True, book people are book people. I don’t know why, but I see a paper book as more welcoming and open to conversation than a tablet device.

      And there’s still the I-prefer-to-spy-than-ask thing. Once a voyeur, always a voyeur?

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