Monday, 9 June 2014

A spot of Bookspotting...

A few years ago I had a an idea for a blog - Bookspotting. Sort of like trainspotting but less geeky (somewhat). As with so many ideas, it got shelved as there's too many ideas and too little time, but have thought about it from time to time. Well I decided this morning I'd give it a go for a bit, despite the fact that it is much harder these days. Reading is on the decline, and lots of people are reading on their Kindles or phones - nigh on impossible to spot what they are reading unless you are sat next to them and peering over their shoulder. But some of us still read real books from time to time, so I'm going to try and spot what they're reading. I have a short train journey to and from work each day, which should give me ample opportunities.

I suppose you are asking why bother? Well partly because after seeing a study that showed reading is massively on the decline, I want to see how true this is. But the main reason is because I'm interested in what other people are reading. It is all to easy to just read the same type of books by the same authors, always heading to the same spot in the bookshop. Discovering new books and authors can be great fun, but where to find them? Bookspotting introduces a randomness to book discovery, you just never know what the person opposite you on the train, or sat next to you in the dentist waiting room is reading. I'm going to try and spot books on my daily travels, find a bit about them, and share online! Should be interesting I hope. Here goes...

Spotted one! I've only just sat down on the 8.27am train, and I spot a young woman on one of the seats across the aisle from me reading 'An Autobiography: Or the Story of My Experiments with Truth' by Gandhi. Sounds heavy going and it is a thick book, but gets 4.5 stars on Amazon. Read it if you want to find out more about Gandhi's life and learn some of his wisdom.


Shortly after this I realised I must have had a stroke of beginners luck as the woman next to me whips out a book too. The book is 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' by Lionel Shriver. It's about a woman whose son commits a murdering rampage at school, killing seven of his fellow pupils. Two years later and she is, understandably, still trying to come to terms with this. It won the Orange Prize for Fiction and was made into a film. There's a 3 for 2 sticker on the front of the book, and it looks new so the reader probably bought it herself from Waterstones or WH Smiths, it's good to see that some people are still supporting bricks and mortar book stores rather than buying from Amazon.

No sign of anyone else reading a book (even a Kindle) in my train carriage. There's a guy reading a magazine, and someone else marking exam papers, but the rest of the passengers (and it is a full train) are either staring out the window or are glued to some electronic device or other. Still, this is a promising start!

The train journey back started frustratingly. The train was late, so I wandered up and down the platform looking for anyone with a book, I even peered in to one of the station cafes - not a book in sight. Then I spotted a man on the platform opposite reading a book. Bingo! Alas I couldn't make out what he was reading, and then my train arrived, obscuring him from view. On the train things didn't improve much. The only person reading in the carriage (apart from me) was a guy in the bay opposite me, reading a thick, well read paperback, its spine cracked in multiple places. The book was in his lap most of the time though, and I couldn't make out what it was. I didn't want him to spot me keep glancing either (I can imagine it now: "Oi you, why're you staring at my crotch?". "Me", I'd protest, "I wasn't, honest, I just wanted to see what book you were reading." Yeah right!). When my train arrived in the station I was resigned to giving up, but a quick glance from behind as I was waiting for the doors to open revealed the title and author at the top of the pages he was reading: 'The Generals' by Simon Scarrow. The author writes historical fiction and is most known for his 'Eagle series' set in the Roman empire. The Generals is the second book in his 'Revolution' series focusing on Wellington and Napolean. The first book in the series is 'Young Bloods'.

I thought that would be it for the day, but then after getting off the train I walked past a woman sat reading on the platform. This one was all too easy to spot: it was 'The Chimp Paradox' by Dr Steve Peters, subtitled The Mind Management Programme to help you achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness'. Quite obviously a self-help book, it does what it says on the tin. I've seen this book around before, I think it is quite popular and acclaimed. The 569 reviews on Amazon seem to think so anyway.

Anyway, that's it for today. More soon hopefully.