Are you worried that this blog of my listing the books that I've spotted people reading on the New York City mass transit system will be a bit like watching paint dry, without the excitement? Neither am I!
It finally happened on Thursday, July 10th as I headed uptown on the F. An entire subway ride, readers everywhere and not a single book that I'd read. I was sure that it would never happen. But it did. The woman on the platform was reading The Last Mrs. Astor. The first reader on the train had a copy of
Raymond Fiest's Magician: Master , which is not an S&M novel, but is rather Merlin related. Although I can see how there do not necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.
Right across was Roses are Red, the 6th Alex Cross thriller. Personally I don't like numbered books because at some point, it is inevitable that the author will do some "recap" paragraphs that just read like fillers to me. I didn't like it when it happened with Harry Potter, either. I know they're no longer paid by the word, but I still feel like I'm owed a refund at that point. Eat Pray Love, which I refuse to read or link to because it is so popular and The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldan. Now, I've never read Gabaldon, although I did buy one of her books and kept it by my bed for a few months, but from everything that I've heard, she seems more like a lifestyle choice than a novelist. People become all wrapped up in her books, lose sleep and do nothing but read them. I know that may make it sound compelling, but it seems to me that if you'd just take up heroin instead of her books, you'll also lose weight!
Finally, I saw someone reading After Dark, by Haruki Murakami, and I became momentarily excited because in my desperation I confused the author with the wonderful Kazuo Ishiguro, and was thrilled that he had a new book out. No such luck. By the way, despite hating book titles that read like song lyrics, or even worse, titles of songs, I absolutely loved everything about Never Let Me Go, including the title and the humming that it elicited in me. It just proves that it is the exception that makes the rule, in my opinion. Seriously, if you haven't read it, there is absolutely no excuse.
On the way back, I realize that I would really appreciate it if people would read hardcover books, with dust jackets. And if it is not too much to ask, could they please hold up the book in front of their faces as opposed to resting them on their laps? Because if the book is on your lap, and I'm trying to bend down to look at the cover, it looks like I'm trying to peer up your dress, and that's just not necessary. Thank you. I did see someone actually reading Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust. Hm. I assumed that he was reading Lonelyhearts, but maybe he was reading Locust. I've never seen anyone outside of high school reading that book. Our book group read it last year and it was not pretty.
On Friday, July 11th, I see a woman reading Emily Griffin's Love the One You're With. I have mixed feelings about Griffin because generally, I despise chick lit, and I cannot stress this enough, book titles that are song lyrics, but I thoroughly enjoyed Something Borrowed and Something Blue. Baby Proof was awful and not even in a chicklit way, just in mind numbingly boring way. She wrote the way Virginia Woolf may have if she were devoid of anything interesting to say. This makes Griffin's latest an easy pass for me, not that the subway lady asked for my opinion, of course. Across from her, a man with many tattoos is reading a battered copy of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. I tried reading it in high school, when I was all angst-enriched and listening to the Grateful Dead (at very low volume, because I didn't like them, but didn't want anyone to know--yeah, I was fun back then!) The Rose was completely over my head and intimidated me so much that I never approached Eco again. I suspect that it is my loss.
I think that there are quite a few books that are ruined by the high school curriculum and forcing kids to read them before they are emotionally and even physically ready. There is no reason for anyone under the age 21 to read Faulkner, ever. As a matter of fact, it may be a good idea for book stores to start carding people. Because it took me twenty years to recover from reading The Sound and The Fury during my junior year.
On Monday, July 14h, I saw someone reading the Bible in Russian on the platform at West 4th Street. Very reassuring. Someone else was reading Night Fever and my favorite reader had a copy of What is the What by Dave Eggers. Which I recommend. Although I'm sure that the Bible is great, too.
Later that day, there was a Play Money reader (incidentally, looking at the write-up of this book on Amazon, I'm convinced that we all need to get a copy), and The Time Traveler's Wife. I fully admit to judging books by their cover (that's how I discovered Raymond Carver's wonderful What We Talk About When We Talk About Love in high school--the cover was stunning) and by the title. And The Time Traveler's Wife does not appeal to me at all. She sounds like she would be a bit of a whiner, actually. "He's out time traveling again, I don't know when to have dinner ready." Also, someone was reading Ethan Canin's The Palace Thief which I loved and it reminded me that I have not read anything by Ethan Canin in ages. But look at this, he has a new novel out. America America. Does that qualify as a song lyric? I'm starting to fear for my rule.
Wednesday, July 16th, uptown V train, Into Thin Air. People either get it or they don't. I didn't get it when I read it while pregnant years ago, but now I appreciate it more. Someone else was reading Harry Potter, impossible to tell which volume. I feel bad that I lost interest in Harry, especially since the rest of the industrialized world became more and more enamored, but I just couldn't fake it any longer.
Thursday, July 17th, downtown V. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I had absolutely no clue what that was, but now with the help of the internet, I see it's the book that they've been selling at Starbucks, If I'm not mistaken, it's narrated by a dog, which increases the chances that I will ever read it to -800. Julia Cameron's The Right to Write. I have certainly heard of that, and it's on my virtual To Read list.
Friday, July 18th, uptown F. Smilla's Sense of Snow. My ex-boyfriend's mother loved that book and I could not get through it. A woman sitting next to me was reading 10 Spiritual Principles of Successful Women. From her demeanor, I am guessing that one of the top principles was to sneer at subway seat mates trying to get a peek at your book. I'm sorry! I'm not trying to be nosy, I just need to have material for the blog!
And that was my subway week! I can't wait to see what people are reading this week.