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If You Were Reading a Book on the C Train This Morning, Here’s What I Thought About You

My typical commute could go one of a few different ways. I could be: reading; jamming at a volume my boss and my parents are convinced will deafen me; building elaborate backstories to intriguing people in my subway car; or I’ve got my eyes closed and I’m dead to the world. Today, it was a mixture of two and three and four. And when I finally opened my eyes, I realized the mix of people reading physical books was way, way interesting. 


1. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road


On the Road

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There was a thirty-something slice of man on my G train that also transferred to the C at Hoyt and ended up standing directly in front of me. He pulled a well-loved copy of On the Road from his pocket and cracked it open. He was unsurprisingly scruffy and pea-coated but had a bubble butt I couldn’t help but envy. His hiking boots said “experienced with 14ers” but his jeans said “I spent too much money on these True Religions because they make my ass look phat.” Been there, babe. 


2. James Baldwin’s Collected Essays : Notes of a Native Son / Nobody Knows My Name / The Fire Next Time / No Name in the Street / The Devil Finds Work / Other Essays



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Across from me, partially obscured by Cutie Reading Kerouac, was a dude reading James Baldwin’s Collected Essays. A book that’s been on my TBR list for the past few years, Collected Essays is the most comprehensive gathering of Baldwin’s nonfiction ever published. It’s not that big of a book, or at least, it didn’t look that big in this dude’s meaty hand, but it brought it back into the forefront of my mind, and I ordered myself a copy off Amazon before I got off the train.


3. David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest


Infinite Jest

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To my immediate left, a girl on page seven of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. I wanted to swaddle her up in her blanket scarf, read her a few more pages, and tuck her into bed. With a staggering 1,079 pages making up the novel, I’ve never made my way completely through it though I’ve tried, time and time again. At one point, the massive book slid off her lap and landed on her foot with a satisfying and distressing THUNK, and when she limped off the train at Chambers, I felt for her. I really felt for her. 


4. Adam Rubin’s Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel


Dragons Love Tacos 2

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Across the car to my right, a very pretty, very tired looking twenty-something woman struggled to keep her toddler on her lap. Not that he was trying to get away from her, he was just full on limp, sliding off her body like a garden slug. Now, if you ask me, the issue was her bag, which was between them. At one point, the kid looked directly into my eyes and attempted to whisper, “Do you like tacos?” before holding up the book he had been clutching: the instant classic Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel. I couldn’t help but smile, which he took as a go ahead to toss me his book, despite having the upper arm strength of, well, a toddler. It clattered to the ground inches from Mom’s foot. She picked it up, hand sanitized it, and wrestled it into his backpack. Way to be, Mom.


5. Tony Robbins’ Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook



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I love a self-help book, I really do. But there’s something about seeing someone reading a financial guide in public that’s a little, well, off-putting. Especially when the reader was wearing an Armani suit. But that’s neither here nor there. Besides, who am I to judge? Oh right, a judgmental twenty-something. 


Featured Image Via Cup of Jo.