What Our Subway Reads Say About Us


The New York Times recently conducted a poll that examined the age-old ritual of reading on the train. (Or as reporter Alexis Mainland enthuses, “Even without a seat, even while pressed with strangers into human panini, even as someone plays a keyboard harmonica and rattles a cup of change, even when stumbling home after a party.” ) Eight thousand readers responded to their question, “What was the last book, magazine and newspaper you read on the subway?” Let’s analyze the results:

Top Magazines The Good: We read New York Magazine (717 readers) as a means of fine-tuning our sophisticated taste for the arts, but when it comes time to commute, we prefer to snuggle up with a copy of The New Yorker (1,928 readers). Are we seduced by the higher word count or the suggestion of intellect? We have one friend who swears it’s easier to tuck in a jacket pocket.

The Bad: We are what we read. We are narcissists. New York must be in the title of your choice publication — you are not welcome into the clubhouse otherwise, not even the sandbox. It’s okay, Oprah, we still love you.

Top Books The Good: We read Pulitzer Prize-winning novels. We are inspired when books are made into movies. Actually, we just like to read the book before the movie is shooting down the street from us. We’re looking at you, Julia Roberts.

The Bad: We are liars. We live in a vampire nation. Everyone reads vampire novels now. We must learn to accept our inherent attraction to well-endowed, blood-thirsty creatures of the night. Fact: Only 36 people were brave enough to admit to their Twilight obsession. This is akin to the prejudice Harry Potter once faced.

Top Newspapers The Good: We are good at conserving money and saving trees. Even when the free newspapers, AM New York and Metro, are near forced into our paws before entering the train, we only take about 1,600 copies.

The Bad: Nearly 40 percent of subway users read The New York Times and we still have to fear the death of print media. Goodbye paper, hello Kindle!