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Whenever I see a person reading a book out in public, I always feel compelled to find out what it is. This compulsion does not usually extend to opening my mouth and politely asking the person what it is they’re reading. “Hey, is that any good?” from a stranger while I’m engrossed in a book gets my attention, albeit warily—I like to recommend things and yammer away about whatever book/media I’ve been consuming, but I also think it’s a bit rude to distract a person who is clearly busy and probably not looking for a conversation. Even worse, it might just be a disguised pickup line.

So instead of risking the ire of fellow bookish strangers by speaking to them, I covertly stare at the covers of books in hands and on laps until they’re raised enough for me to make out the titles. Come to think of it, maybe this is actually worse. Oh well.

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This beardy dude caught my attention during the long walk from the G to the E train at Court Square the other day. He had a book, it had a very red cover, he was reading it while walking like a caricature of an absent-minded professor, and the only other pop of color on him was also red, and it was his shoes. For a while I kept pace with him, trying to scan the title out of the corner of my eye, but lost him around a corner. I glimpsed him again on the platform, tilting the book in order to scratch his nose, but he lowered it again before I could register any details on the cover. A tired metallic screeching announced the E’s arrival into the station and though I considered hopping into the same car, the crush of people exiting and milling about made it more trouble than it was worth. I’m not some kind of creepy book-stalker.

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