Big Brother Book Club: Less “Revolutionary” than you’d expect


We thought we’d see a few more copies of Revolutionary Road around the city this week, as people jump on board The New Yorker online book club, but alas, it appears that our fellow commuters are not book clubbers. The only copy we saw on the MTA was our own. Did you realize it was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1962? We didn’t. Maybe if it had gotten a few more Oscar nods…

We did see Susan Sontag’s Reborn — the reader gets points for lugging a hardback tome around, and for his willingness to leave the dust jacket on (we usually leave those at home so they don’t get distressed by the other junk in our bags). It was so pretty and shiny! We also saw America by E.R. Frank, and it was not the first time we’ve seen an adult reading a book labeled “young adult” by publishers and booksellers. We have tendency to wander into the YA section ourselves, because a lot of the books being aimed at younger teens are really fantastic (and we don’t mean Harry Potter). Plus sometimes it’s fun to relive our middle school years with a little Christopher Pike.

Speaking of books from our formative years, we spotted a youngster reading The Great Gatsby on the N train. In spite of what the haters will tell you, it’s a beautiful book, and it’s nice to know it’s still required reading in high school. [Editor’s note: It also contains one of my favorite lines about New York: “The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.]

Another book we’re happy to see subway riders continue to enjoy is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao . Anything that gets so much buzz can become rather irksome, but it was the best book we read last year (and some of us don’t even speak Spanish). Also seen: the awesomely titled Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria? (less amusing, more informative subtitle: A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity); Refuse to Choose (subtitle: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams — good luck with that in this economy, sucka!); The Mole People by Jennifer Toth, which we heartily recommend; and The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley, which reminded us of our new commitment to read more good detective books.