What are people reading here in Boston?

Boston is unique in many ways. Reputed for its world class colleges and as a healthcare mecca, here everyone reads in the buses and trains. Yesterday I made a quick unscientific survey. Of the seven folks in my row on the train, six were reading. The remaining soul was dozing – can’t blame her, it was early. That’s pretty much the daily trend. So what are they reading? Here are a few observations and generalizations.

During the morning commute, its primarily the newspapers, Boston Globe, Boston Metro, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times (London) and New York Times. Metro readers usually finish it in a few minutes and then go back to their novels or whatever else. The other newspapers appear to have more meat to occupy the readers. Particularly during the morning commute, more guys read newspapers or magazines and girls read novels. During the evening, both genders are equal novel readers. If a woman is reading a newspaper, she is likely to be dressed in business attire as well.

Only a small percentage (< 10%) read magazines: Newsweek, Economist (London) and New Yorker. Occasionally a clothing catalog. Noticed a few people reading the bible – exclusively women and more generally of African-american heritage. Yesterday for the first time, the lady next to me in a head scarf pulled out a small green volume of the Koran and started flipping through it. Never saw the Bhagvad Gita, or the Ramayana.

Reflecting the academic crowd, it is common to see students of all ages reading college textbooks and doing homework. Many more are reading photocopies of journal articles – usually the post-docs or serious academic types. A few may be thumbing through dissertations. Morgan Stanley Report: “Assessing Insurer’s Terrorism Risk,” surprised me yesterday – but we do have a large financial services industry here.

What novels are people reading on the train?
In the last 48 hours I noted the following novels. Please note I could only see the titles of about half the books. Listed alphabetically

  • Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, “Random Family: Love Drugs, Troubles and Coming of Age in the Bronx”
  • Andrew Greeley, “The Bishop and the Beggar Girl of St Germain”
  • Arthur C Clarke, “Fountains of Paradise”
  • Augusten Burroughs, “Dry: A Memoir”
  • Dan Brown, “Angels & Demons” (two)
  • Dan Brown, “Deception Point”
  • Daniel Silva, “A Death in Vienna”
  • Gregory Maguire, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”
  • James Michael Thomas, “Script Analysis for Actors, Directors and Designers”
  • Jim Cymbala, “Fresh Power”
  • John Sandford, “Easy Prey”
  • JRR Tolkien, “Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King”
  • Marian Keyes, “Last Chance Saloon”
  • Phillipa Gregory, “The Other Boleyn Girl”
  • Sean Hannity, “Let Freedom Ring: Winning the war of Liberty over Liberalism”

In the train and bus, what are they talking about? Ha Ha Ha, that could be a whole dissertation.

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