The secret book


Illustration by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

I stepped into the subway car, took a seat and extracted Nabokov from my backpack. Before starting my reading I glanced over to the row of seats on the other side of the aisle.

Diagonally across from me sat at a young woman reading Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. My prejudices told me they were an odd couple, the lady and Kurt. The woman looked happy and full of joy. She would be a much better fit for Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Next to the woman sat a man reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. A proper gentleman, it seemed, wearing a pinstriped suit and his hair combed back. He looked as if cut from a story about the English upper class. I smiled to myself as I imagined him as one of the guests in Mrs. Dalloway’s dinner party.

I continued my scan along the row of seats and my glance stopped at a woman with a Kindle ebook reader. The smile disappeared from my lips. I did not like ebook readers. It destroyed my favorite pastime activity not being able to know what people were reading.