I’ve always been curious about what other people are reading. Whenever I’m in a public place like a railway station, airport or cafe, I can’t resist trying to peek at the covers in the hands of fellow travellers and customers.
My recent holiday was the perfect opportunity to indulge in my habit though of course it works only if people are reading physical books and don’t have their noses glued to an e reader.
Still, the plethora of electronic reading devices I’ve witnessed in use over the last three weeks meant I could amuse myself in trying to guess what each person was reading. Take the rather elderly couple to my left on the sun deck. Maybe he’s engrossed in a Mills and Boon or Game of Thrones and his wife has her eyes on something racy. Then again perhaps she is a devotee of science fiction while he has a penchant for war and terrorism.
More likely however, judging by the books I can actually observe, they will be reading crime fiction, or popular or family sagas. Close by me for example I can see people with Stella Rimmington, James Patterson, Val McDermid and Ian Rankin. One woman has Maeve Binchy on her lap and another has Gone Girl. Further along the deck there seems to be a cluster of the pastel coloured covers that usually indicate chick lit or romance. In the last few days a smattering of Sandra Howard titles have appeared, the result undoubtedly of the fact she was a guest speaker along with her husband, the former Conservative party leader, Lord Michael Howard. Few people are reading non fiction. One man I saw yesterday seemed engrossed by Boris Johnsons biography of Winston Churchill and I’ve seen a few biographies/autobiographies of leading entertainers and sports personalities. But on the whole non fiction rules the day.
I try not to pass judgement on their choices. Better that they are reading something rather than nothing but it’s hard not to feel disappointed that so few people seem to be reading the kind of novels I enjoy. Because of there is one thing we avid readers love,next to reading, and buying books, it’s actually talking about them. And I’ve not had much opportunity to do that since crime fiction and family sagas are not my thing at all. I did have two enjoyable conversations, one about The Miniaturist and another about Elizabeth is Missing, both of which I read and enjoyed this year. But I was hoping for more considering there are 2000 passengers on the Queen Mary 2 and many of them are readers judging by how busy the on board library is every time I’m there. It’s well used not just because it has some very comfy chairs looking right out onto the waves but because the range of titles on offer is impressive. Apparently it’s one of, if not the largest library on a cruise ship, and is well stocked with natural history, travel, art and reference works as well as fiction in French, German, Italian and of course English, plus a whole section of classics. Who’d have thought there would be such a paradise of the high seas?