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January 2019



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What do you call visual earwigging?

I can’t think of a word for it. I’ve just been reading what Cornflower has to say about overhearing conversations about books or noticing what other people are reading. It is interesting; I used to love Bookish New Yorker’s ‘Seen on the subway’ feature when she was writing it. I’m inhibited though. When I was very small I was travelling somewhere with my parents, either on a bus or a tube, when I read out something from the back of someone’s newspaper and asked them about it. I got such a ticking off about what terribly bad manners it was to look at someone else’s paper that I still don’t do it.

Now the boot is on the other foot. I don’t get out much but when I do I tend to take my Kindle with me and it’s a real ice-breaker. ‘Ooh, may I look?’ Next thing I know I have an admiring little crowd around me while I expound its virtues and hot discussions start up about being able to store all those books on it compared with the pleasure of owning ‘real’ books. If a person is reading from a Kindle of course, no one knows what they’re reading, as Knife & Packer showed in the cartoon I used here. A market there for X-ray specs?


I catch myself doing this often, too. I also notice what actors in movies and television programs read, which is how I discovered A.S. Byatt's Possession years ago.
Oh yes, many's the time I'm more interested in the books on the shelves than in the rest of a photograph.
I'm bad for looking over people's shoulders on buses and trains to read their newspaper headlines!

I'm hoping one of my boys will think that dear old mum would like a kindle for Christmas :) My son-in-law loves his.
Keep hinting!


I love to see what people are reading, too. I read on somebody's blog - can't remember which one - that reading in public is a subversive act nowadays which is interesting! Nicola@vintagereads
We already have guerilla gardening and guerilla knitting. Next up: guerilla reading?


I always look to see what people are reading. In my commuting days I was always conscious of it if someone was reading my book/paper over my shoulder and I didn't like it at all. I do though always look to see what books people have if they're photographed in a room where books are. Was very miffed not to be able to see the book titles in the Obama/Cameron/Kitchen photo recently.
The Cameron kitchen: apparently you could see what DVDs they had; I heard it on the radio. I'm quite interested to know they have Brideshead on DVD but like you I'd find the books more interesting.


I know what you mean! A total stranger approached me while I was waiting for my husband to choose potting compost and I was whiling away the time with my Kindle. He wanted to know all about it and I had to give him a demonstration!
The Harry Potter books were produced with 'adult' covers as well as the 'children's' ones, so that adults wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen reading them in public! No need for that if they were on your Kindle! :o)

Penny (Scottish Vegan Homemaker)
Amazon should pay us to be roving ambassadors!