I tend to notice what people read on the subway and light rail. It’s curiosity, pure and simple, and I try to be subtle about it.
Often as not, it’s the newspaper. Either the Baltimore Sun, occasionally something from out of town like the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post, but more often than not, it’s one of the free papers in Baltimore, either b or the Examiner.
My first week riding the rails, the woman who sat next to me one morning, inbound to Baltimore, pulled a Laurie R. King novel out of her purse. I mentioned it as I made move to gather my own shoulder bag together when about two stops before I was due to disembark, and we had an amiable conversation. It was one of her San Francisco private investigator novels, none of which I’ve read. I’ve read her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels, which I generally detest for getting the Sage of Baker Street so terribly, terribly wrong. (King’s characterization owes more to Basil Rathbone than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, I think The Moor is quite good.)
One day I noticed someone reading a Raymond Benson James Bond novel — Doubleshot. I was, frankly, surprised — I hadn’t realized the books sold all that well. I mean, I have them, but then again, I’m me, and that’s to be expected.
Today, this very morning, I saw someone reading a Robert Zubrin book, The Case for Mars.
I read that book, about ten years ago.
Part technical study, part political call to action, The Case for Mars is the kind of book that everyone concerned about America’s future in space — and there’s reason to be concerned — should read.
That someone else in this world was reading The Case for Mars… well, that surprised me.
As for myself, I’m still reading that terrible mystery. It’s surely a sign of its awesomeness that I must force myself to read the book, having nothing else to occupy my time on the subway and light rail.
And that’s only because I’d taken my notepads out of my backpack and couldn’t write.
Such is life on the rails. 🙂