There’s a lot more going on in the subway than you know.
Many people read on the subway. After moving from Germany to New York City, Uli Beutter Cohen began to wonder what they were reading and why. Three years ago she began asking people to review what they were reading on the subway, and she documented it on an Instagram feed called Subway Book Review. It is part sociological – she has found that some subway lines are better than others when it comes to good literary finds – and part plain curiosity and love of books. She takes a photo of the reader with their book, and then asks them for a review which she prints beneath their photo on the Instagram post. I find I have trouble tearing myself away from reading all the reviews. She has expanded the project to London, Cairo and New Mexico. If you live in an urban area with underground transportation, you can apply to become a subway book curator yourself!
Eugene: “It’s a fictional story about a young, minority football player coming from a small town, going to a big town. He deals with the trials & tribulations of becoming a star. What stands out about the story is this whole concept of him trying to be somebody he’s not — he’s a great football player, but not good at the other stuff that comes with stardom. I can relate to the changing of who you are — morality vs. reality. It’s a very good book.” (from Huffington Post article by Uli Beutter Cohen)
And, that’s not all that’s going on in the literary world of underground transportation! In 2012 in London an initiative called Books on the Underground was started by Hollie Fraser. Her aim was to encourage more Londoners to read during their daily commutes by hiding books all over the London underground. 150 books on average are distributed around the underground weekly. They are left on seats, benches, around ticket areas and station signs. Updates appear on social media with clues about where the books will be dropped. Readers who find and read a book are encouraged to return the book to the underground. They have recruited publishers, film promoters and authors to help bring a wide variety of new and used books to the project. They encourage book donations from anyone willing to part with some books. It puts a new twist on the phrase ‘mobile library’.
Even actress Emma Watson has participated in hiding books.
The founder, Hollie Fraser, moved to New York and began the project there with her friend Rosy. It is called Books on the Subway and follows the same principles as Books on the Underground. Follow their social media feeds on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook for book drop dates and clues to where to find a book.
There are now branches in many cities around the world and the global initiative is called Books on the Move.
There are seven branches across Europe and twelve branches across the United States. All are run independently and they are always looking for more urban areas to join.