When we’re trolling the subways to check out what you’re reading, we’re also checking YOU out. Does your book suit your look? Because we love seeing folks who could not be more perfect for their books — like the older gentleman on the 1 train, in a tweed jacket and a baseball cap over his shaggy white hair absorbed in a library copy of How Fiction Works by James Wood. We want that guy to be our adopted grandpa. Incongruous fashion is just as much fun — yesterday we saw a girl with a Social Distortion hoodie and heavier black eyeliner than Lauren Conrad reading The Late Bloomer’s Revolution , by former New York Observer columnist Amy Cohen. Down the car was a young guy in a bling-printed T reading My Summer On Earth by Tom Lombardi, about an alien posing as a 16-year-old with a “perfect body [and] tons of money” according to Amazon. Let’s hear it for wish fulfillment!
We also saw Dead Aim by Thomas Perry, which has an appealingly Chandleresque premise, but does not sound quite like our sort of thing. We spotted another mystery novel, this old copy of The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie, and Herman Wouk’s World War II epic The Winds of War .
A few more timely non-fiction books rounded out our subway spying: The Audacity of Hope — perhaps you’ve heard of the author, Barack Obama — and Thomas J. Craughwell’s Stealing Lincoln’s Body . The ill-fated plot to steal the presidential remains is considered a “footnote” in our country’s history, but we think it deserves more attention — it’s a lot more interesting to teenagers than memorizing the Gettysburg Address.
We ended this round of book watching by almost knocking a copy of Leonard Michaels’ Collected Stories out an open window at an impromptu mid-week party, sparking a discussion of intense Michaels appreciation. Our favorite story in the book is “Murderers.”