I spend a good portion of my day schlepping from Maryland to Northern Virginia on the DC Metro, which gives me nearly two hours a day to read and nap while pretending to read.
The Metro is also a good place to do some nerdsdropping on my fellow readers. Having lived in America’s most highly educated metropolis for over a year now, I thought I would take nourishment from the vibrant intellectual capital that surrounds me and see what my fellow DC nerds are reading.
So what are all these uptight smart-looking, bifocaled Beltway types around me reading? Turns out to mostly be reports on really boring topics like emergency preparedness and Stieg Larsson. Almost dangerous quantities of Stieg Larsson.
During my week of creepy book-leering, I have discovered that the taste of the average DC reader is–how do I put this?–bad. For instance, the title of a book like The Art of Racing In the Rain actually sounds kind of poetic–until you look it up and discover it’s a blatant Marley and Me cute doggie ripoff. Scratch that off my “possible read” list.
I did like that a punked out kid with a shirt that read vegan and tattoos up and down his face–including a conspicuous lotus flower on his chin–was reading the A Year of Living Biblically. Meanwhile his slightly less punked out boyfriend sat next to him reading trash about vampires. I suspect it’s just a matter of time before these two go from totally straight edge to handing out Chick pamphlets on the street.
Of all the books whose titles I was able to see, only Updike’s Rabbit is Rich and Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time, a nonfiction account of the devastation of the Dust Bowl, struck me as potential books to track down.
I think I can now go back to ignoring my fellow passengers in peace.