Will you read *anything* in public?

Romance novels written by Fabio? Comics with huge-breasted women on the covers? Tekwar books? Star Trek? Buffy? Forgotten Realms? Novels emblazoned with a superhero’s insignia? Erotica?

I admit that in between so-called respectable books, I enjoy the occasional Star Wars novel, and for a while I used to try to hide their covers when I read them on the train. But then I figured, amidst all the Harry Potters, self-help books, Bill O’Reilly screeds, DaVinci Codes, and Oprah-sanctioned weepers – not to mention the N.Y. Posts – why should I be the one embarrassed by my choice of reading material?

What books do you flaunt proudly on your commute or your lunch hour or in a coffee shop full of hot college girls? Which ones would you hide under your raincoat until you can get safely home or into a rest room?

I’ve been known to read Gor novels on the subway. Of course, Gor novels advertise themselves as vaguely sexy fantasy adventures, hence might not require all that much courage to read. Those who know, however, know.

No Star Treks in public, lest I be labeled an Ubergeek.

No adaptations of movies, either. I rarely read those, anyway, but I don’t even like to read novels that preceded the movies when photos from the movie are splashed all over the front. I just think it looks like I’m a dope who saw the movie and am just now trying to read the book.

Just for the record, I am a geek; just not an Ubergeek. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. :wink:

Esquire, yes. Maxim, no. Daredevil, maybe.

I’m in my 40s. A while back, I bought an issue of Rolling Stone at the local supermarket; it featured Britney Spears’ heaving bosom on the cover. The cashier, a semi-hot twenty-something Salvadorean woman, looked at the cover, looked at me and kind of snickered.

One reason why I never made it through Lolita was that, at the time of my first and only attempt, I was a fifteen year old whose primary free reading time was during my lengthy city bus ride to and from school. I was afraid of attracting very unwanted attention.

I draw the line at pornography or the porn-lite magazines like Maxim and Cosmo and will happily read everything else in plain view of everyone.

It never occured to me to worry about what I was seen reading until I spent an hour layover in Atlanta being leered at by a very skeevy guy who was a dead ringer for Danny Treo when I was reading Fear of Flying, an edition with a somewhat scandalous cover. It was a little distressing.

Or maybe I was actually leered at by Danny Treo, in which case I’d be proud and should have gotten his autograph. Either way, there are some books I don’t take with me to public anymore. Well, that and the “we’ve rereleased this book that’s been out for thousands of years with Brad Pitt’s face on it” books, I don’t have no truck with that sort of thing.

Ha ha I like taping covers of ‘Penthouse’ magazine and taping them over ‘Computer gaming Monthy’. And if anyone calls me on it, I show them what I am looking at. Pretty tame stuff :wink:

No skin mags, and if I’m reading an Esquire or GQ with nude pictures in it, I tend to flip past them fast in the subway.

Really, though, anything can get you noticed. A few weeks ago, some Hasidim approached me and asked if I was Jewish – apparently because the *Wilson Quarterly * I was reading has an ad for a book about Judaism on the back.

Not long ago I read Irvine Welsh’s Porno on many a subway. It’s got a nice cover illustration (this is the UK version I bought in London) of an uninflated sexdoll.

Got lots of weird looks with that one, I did.

Well, I read a lot of Japanese manga (in Japanese) with kinda explicit sex scenes in 'em. So when I’m flying, I always pack the really tame ones so no one looking over my shoulder gets an eyeful…

Funny. You don’t look Jewish.

I read comics on the Metro from time to time. That and trashy science fiction (also on the Metro) are the only things I think I ever read which might be embarassing.

I thought I saw a woman browsing a Playboy once, but it turned out to be an issue of Glamour.


I was acutally thinking about this at lunch today, because the back of the book I’m currently reading has “F–k all this for a game of soldiers” written in large letters on the back (the middle 2 letters of “fuck” are, in fact, blotted out). I regularly read comics (though my tastes don’t tend toward the huge-breasted cover art titles) and have been known to peruse Maxim and its equivalents when travelling. I wouldn’t read Playboys or other porn out in public, but then I don’t really read them at home either.

Oh dear, no! I’m even worried about what the librarians will think. My grandma once asked me to get her some paperback romance novels and I made it a point to let the librarian know they were not for me. Sometimes the self-help books tempt me, but there’s no way I’m going up to the checkout counter with something like How To Stop Scratching Your Ass All The Time. (Not that I do. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

I won’t read just anything, but anything I do read, I would read in public. I suppose there are extreme circumstances that might move me to censor myself somewhat–say, for example, concealing a book with an extremely lurid or offensive cover while in a public place with lots of children around–but in practice I can’t ever remember doing so. On the other hand, I do recall going out of my way to bring my copy of SFX magazine to work on a regular basis; the cover layout artists have a playful tendency to obscure part of the middle letter with a picture of a scantily clad Sarah Michelle Gellar or whoever, thus giving the misleading impression that the geek-friendly British sci-fi mag is something altogether naughtier. My co-workers have never gotten bored with pointing this out.

It seems to me that it’s the eclectic-appearing books that tend to spark the most interesting conversations, since anyone with similar tastes is all the more delighted that I’m out there publicly validating our mutually obscure and/or trashy reading habits.

I will read anything but my manga with graphic sex scenes in public. I am taking a course called “Biology of Sex” right now and it had huge photo close ups of human sexual organs. I read it openly on the bus. :slight_smile:

I won’t read Playboy in public, out of consideration of others. Maxim, FHM, and the like: sure. Otherwise just about anything goes, as long as the cover isn’t grossly offensive.

I read Ayn Rand out in public once.

When I get off work I like to sit at the bar reading comic books, or studying my Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. Of course, the downside is that there’s always some dork who can’t see that I’m trying to read, and he wants to start a conversation.

(heh heh heh - anybody see Get Fuzzy today? Rob is pondering buying a Volvo, and Bucky Cat says to him, “You could literally not be a bigger dork if you had a Dungeon Master’s Guide in your hand.”)

That was the only magazine I was embarrassed to read in public, simply because of that annoying and often deliberate misinterpretation. However, I don’t care about reading Cinefex or Lemony Snicket or whatever other geeky thing I have with me (I usually am wearing my cap with the words Jedi Heritage emblazoned on it anyway. I am an unashamed geek).