Books Magazine

Book Thoughts on Thursday | What Other People Are Reading

By Mle_vnc @Backlist_Books
The world of books is never boring. Every week (well, most weeks) I'll discuss a different topic related to books, often inspired by or in response to what's going on in the online book community (or something I've seen another blogger talk about). I call this Book Thoughts on Thursday. Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, or even write your own post on the topic and share the link with me! 
I have a fascination with what other people are reading. Friends and family, of course. I constantly ask them what they've read lately, if it was good, what they'll be reading next. Which I'm sure they find either endearing or endlessly annoying. (Hopefully the former.)
But my obsession with knowing what people are reading extends well past that. It's like a compulsion - anytime I see someone reading, I have to know which book it is. I'll shamelessly read over people's shoulders on the bus to get a peek at their book. If I see someone reading in a park or a cafe I'll sneakily move closer in hopes of catching a glance of the cover.
It's even worse when it comes to people reading on TV and in movies. I'll rewind and pause shows if I've missed the title of a book. And it really bugs me if a character is caught reading a book they just wouldn't read - even more than if their wardrobe isn't consistent or if they can't quite carry off an accent.
Fortunately, I'm not the only one to share this particular obsession. There are shows known for their literary forays, and plenty of sites on the internet that have catalogued them. Of course, the two that most readily come to mind are The Gilmore Girls and Orange Is the New Black. There's actually a Rory Gilmore reading challenge that circulates from time to time - bloggers and readers who try to read each of the more than three hundred books glimpsed on screen as the series progressed.
While the Gilmores moved off-screen quite some time ago, OITNB has stepped in to fill the void, and blogs have begun popping up to track the books mentioned on the show (like this one) - everything from Harry Potter to This Is Where I Leave You and The Fault In Our Stars.
And just this week, a new Instagram sensation popped up that's dedicated to literary voyeurism in the real world, and consists of sneaky pictures taken of Hot Dudes Reading in public places. Which is fine (as are several of the guys), except it is clearly managed by people who are more interested in the guys than the actual books themselves. Because a true bibliophile would at least try to identify which book they're reading (a really good one would make sure the pic showed the cover). I ended up feeling mostly irritated that I couldn't tell which books many of them were so engrossed by!
It's not just a voyeuristic thing. If someone seems particularly engrossed by a book and I can catch a glimpse of the title or cover, I will look it up on Goodreads, and I've even been known to later read one or two that interested me. I feel like if a book is so good that someone reading it on a crowded bus while being stepped on and prodded by strangers can retain their concentration, well that's a pretty darn good recommendation.
Other times I'll be overjoyed to see that the book they're reading is one I have already read and loved. It makes me feel like this:
I've considered my need to know what everyone is reading, and while I sometimes feel like I  shouldn't try to figure out the covers (staring is rude after all), I imagine they'd understand - we're all book lovers, after all!
What about you guys? Do you ever find yourself peering at a stranger's book, trying to figure out if it's one you have read or heard of? Do you catch people trying to sneak a peek at your book when you read in public? Does it bother you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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