I Like What You’re Reading

While reading all those important industry newsletters this morning, I learned that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the number one Kindle Bestseller. No surprise– that book is everywhere. A co-worker concurred, “I see people with that book on BART and MUNI all the time.”

“But,” I realized suddenly. “It’s selling for Kindle. We can’t actually see if anyone is reading it! In fact, in a few years, we’ll never be able to gaze at the cover of anyone’s book on the train again!”

Checking out what people are reading definitely used to be one of my favorite subway activities (ranked just after crying shamelessly and making faces at strangers’ kids.) I’ve gotten into countless conversations with people about books

My favorite began when a man who saw me cruising the scene exclaimed, “my book is better than his!” Another memorable time was at 4am on the 1 train when a young editorial assistant saw me dozing off over Everything Is Illuminated and starting ranting about what a hack Jonathan Safran Foer was and revealed the selling price for film rights. (“Disgusting!”)

Even here in SF, I’ve made two female friends on BART using visible reading material as the jumping off point.

I have to say that the idea of not being able to look at other people’s books is even more sad to me than not holding the book, having the book, taking notes in the margins or whatever else it is that people are all in a tizzy about. I had the sudden urge to scream, “Stop the e-Book train! I want to get off!!”

But for some people, like my dad, the purchase of his iPad has lead to buying and reading books that he never would have otherwise. He reported to me from Cape Cod that he can read on the beach now, because he doesn’t have to worry about getting the pages wet, or collecting sand in the bindings. (Clearly, unlike his daughter, he no fear about spilling the ocean on his iPad.)

I was happy to hear that he was reading–at the end of the day, his story was inspiring both for the publishing industry and his personal growth. Then I asked what he was reading. A few solid non-fiction titles–and Shit My Dad Says.

I laughed, running out of time before I could ask him if he knew that the book was based on a Twitter stream, or if he remembered a similarly themed book on the same topic that was a major element of the Cape Cod experience a mere 11 years ago.

It was a green journal filled with natural recycled paper. I wrote down all the absurd things everyone said, and every few days, would gather the group to read the quotes out loud. As time passed, I continued to read from the beginning–the quotes getting funnier everyday.

Then there was last year, when I came back to the house to my father demanding that I pull his quotes from my blog. (His loss–my step-mom is now famous for her quote, “A booty call is better than no call at all.”)

And of course, there’s this year. I only see Cape Cod through my dad’s Facebook posts, because I’m in California working for a company that makes books for the iPad. My dad is in Cape Cod with his own iPad, reading books about Shit Someone Else’s Dad Said.

[Try to make sense of it all here.]


2 thoughts on “I Like What You’re Reading

  1. I think the Kindle is cool, but nothing will ever replace actual books for me. I love the way they smell. I love turning pages.

    Maybe that makes me old fashioned, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

  2. I think the “subway problem” will actually get solved. It will be possible to display what you're reading on the “spine” or over a public wi-fi signal if you're so inclined, or augmented reality, etc.


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