If you doubt that people are taking note of what you are reading, check out the Underground New York Public Library, “featuring the Reading-Riders of the New York City subways.”
Just as the Underground New York Public Library is not affiliated with New York Public Library, the MARTA Book Club which has been surveying the reading habits of Atlanta commuters since November of 2009 (see MARTA book club link on the right). Likewise, the MARTA book club has no affiliations with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, any reputable library, or with any literacy slash transportation advocacy group. The MARTA book club is an informal, decentralized book club, whose only requirement is reading something while riding a MARTA bus or train.
Compared to previous offerings, membership is down with only a few offerings. This could be attributed to fewer people reading books, more people reading on their e-readers or most likely, my lack of record keeping diligence (read laziness). My notes show I spotted people reading a few books since my last posting two months ago. They are:
Infinte Jest by David Wallace
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
The Book of Spiders by David Wong
Castles in the Air by Christina Dodd
Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern Slave, An International Art Dealer and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall, Denver More, and Lynn Vincent.
The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill
A Short History of the World by Bill Bryson
The Holy Bible
The Power of the Praying Parent by Stormie Ormartian
A Tidewater Morning: Three Tales from Youth by William Styron
I am always cognizant of what I am packing bookwise. One my recent reading selections was the 10th anniversary issue of The Believer magazine. I suspect that normally, my fellow commuters think I am reading some religious tract like The Watchtower, which I've seen distributed regularly at the Avondale Station. This is understandable since riders do read a lot from the Christian genre.
Of course, Believer is almost the opposite of religious writing unless you think articles about art, music, books, and oddball topics ranging from an interview with swimmer Diana Dyad to "The Anatomy of Melancholia." Obviously, the editors know this since the 10th Anniversary cover shown here with a group partying in a bathtub is “a play” on its name. (According to the editors was almost titled The Optimist.) I love dissonance. I keep subscribing to The Believer because in each issue there is some article that introduces me to a new writer (Rebecca Solnit, and Julie Hecht come to mind) or an idea.
Ironically, in the March/April issue I was introduce to both (via Nick Hornby's column on books) Francis Spufford's Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprisingly Emotional Sense. That's right. I am reading about a book about the forgotten strengths of Christianity. Could it rekindle my interest to become a believer? I will keep you posted.