Saturday, 21 February 2015

5 Ways the London Tube Will Affect You as a Reader

london tube reader
A rare moment
I've been living in London now for almost two years and in that time I've learnt a few things about what it's like to be a book lover in the big city. Aside from during the evenings and in my lunch breaks I get the majority of reading done on the tubes - the northern line from Kennington to Warren Street has been my reading space twice daily for the last two years. I can tell you now that it's not always tube delays that have me sobbing in the end carriage.

For my fellow London dwellers these five points will be more than a little familiar and for everyone else, here is a little taste of the ways the tube will affect you as a reader.

1. You will be continually disappointed by people obscuring the covers of their books. Nosey Nellies be warned.

2. When this doesn't happen, you will fall in love with people purely based on their reading material. If you're reading Wilkie on the tube and I'm nearby, prepare for enthusiastic smiles, staring and maybe, if you're really lucky, even a wink or two.

3. You will become adept at reading in the loudest and most uncomfortable situations, even when there's an armpit less than an inch from your face.

4. Walking around the tube network will make you want to read all the books thanks to various strategically placed adverts for the latest gripping read (FYI it's the Penguin Little Black Classics adverts that are getting me at the moment with their monochrome and spine-tingling quotes).

5. You will inevitably be struck down by alogotransiphobia - the fear of having nothing to read on public transport. It's a modern pandemic.



  1. People obscuring the covers of their books is really really annoying in Japan - bookshops generally provide you with a paper cover for the book (to give the bookshop free advertising and to preserve the actual cover), and serious readers quite often buy cloth covers for their books, so it's really rare that you can tell what anybody is reading at all! Boring! (Although I have a collection of cloth book covers so I can't really complain about other people, hehe).

    The armpit next to your face thing is reminding me of riding trains during rush hour in Tokyo during the summer - not only is it boiling hot, but you are actually pushed onto the train (quite often by the station staff standing on the platform), and inevitably end up smushed into the back of someone who is dripping with sweat and stinks of last night's sake (worst smell ever). Urgh.
    Reading was the only thing that kept me sane during my old commute!

  2. I too live in London and commute on the northern line from colliers wood to old street. Don't hate me but I read book on my ipad now—is that wrong?.

    Sometimes, when i'm reading a good book, I actually want the tube to be delayed.

    I agree that reading keeps me sane, but I can't read the Metro, its rubbish.

  3. I love aaaaall of this. I have all of these feelings in the subways of Chicago (though we don't have too many ads for books). But that picture! You have cushioned seats and ARMRESTS what?? That is very luxurious compared to Chicago, so it's not all bad! haha

  4. Totally agree with the fifth point about alogotransiphobia haha! I've been reading solidly on the Northern line for the past two years too. In fact, I'm really glad I came across this article, because it resonates really well with a message I'm trying to put through! Ellie, check out my website and message me there, we can do a cool blog collab :D


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