Having now curated and posted photos for Beaufort and Spencer Hill social media accounts, coming up with artsy pictures and a quick caption for books is harder than it looks, so Bookstagram culture is pretty impressive. That’s why when I came across “Books on the Subway” during my first week of working as an intern here, I was immediately intrigued. There are tons of blogs and social media accounts dedicated to people reading, but my personal favorites are the pictures of people reading on the subway. From bringing fake book covers on the subway to get a rise out of the public (one cover read something silly like “How to Hold a Fart In”) to, quite honestly the best, “Hot Dudes Reading” an Instagram dedicated to good-looking men reading on-the-go, there are enough books and steamy pictures to satisfy everyone.
However, a free platform to share the books you are reading is not something you come across on a daily basis, especially through a quirky Instagram. That’s what’s so great about “Books on the Subway.” Started in 2012 by Hollie Fraser in London, originating as “Books on the Underground” and expanding to five other cities around the world, “Books on the Subway” is kind of like a public library. A public library on the metro. A public library on the metro to discover new reads and get so caught up reading you miss your stop.
Hollie and Rosy Kehdi, the originator of the New York City branch, put fun stickers explaining the idea behind the organization on some of their favorite books and leave them on subways all over the city for someone to pick up. It is like a library, a secret santa, and a wonderful surprise all wrapped into one beautiful book that is yours to cherish and read, and then return to a subway station to leave for another unsuspecting victim of good luck. Five to 20 books are left a day on the subways of this crazy metropolis and a photo of the books and their locations are Instagrammed daily.
As someone who is a self-proclaimed sociologist (which is just my fancy way of saying I am an avid people-watcher) checking out what other people are reading on the subway has turned into a game practically, finding the best books to eventually read. Most of the time I am not-so-subtly trying to peer over a shoulder or twist my head to the perfect angle just to read the title of the book a passenger is enjoying. That is why when people post about books it is so much easier to check out the titles they are reading.
While “Books on the Subway” may just seem like a fun thing to check out if you find a book lying around the dingy floors of a subway station, for me it is a book lover’s dream come true, next to kindle apps and fanfiction. I take the subway at least four times a week and on these long rides on the D train, if I’m not listening to a new podcast, I’m reading. I’m usually reading books for school, which can be fun sometimes, depending on if I understand what is being theorized, but subway rides give me the opportunity to read books that I wouldn’t have time for otherwise. I read for fun, something that I haven’t been able to indulge in for a while now.
Since living here for school, New York City has become something like my own personal library whether reading in coffee shops, the NYPL Rose Room, or on the subway, which has now just gotten a little more interesting. Hopefully, my tbr list will actually be read this semester. Hopefully, I will spot a free subway book some time soon.
– Amanda, Intern
This is a shared blog post for Spencer Hill Press and Beaufort Books