How to Judge a Person By Their Subway Read

by Melissa Ragsdale

We all do it. You’re sitting on the subway, you see the person across from you engrossed in a paperback, their black-rimmed glasses nearly touching the page. You can’t help but take a peek at what they’re reading. (Especially if they’re attractive.) CoverSpy even does this professionally.

And I think we all have the same fantasy, too: You see this person reading this book on the subway, and you ask them about it. A conversation blooms, and it turns out, they’re the perfect human. Smart, funny, good taste — and they think you’re great, too. You get off on the same stop, and walk to the nearest coffee shop, because you literally cannot stop talking to each other. Hours later, you’ve already gone on your first bookstore trip with them, and, a new pile of reads in your bag, you have your first kiss beneath the red awning of The Strand. (Spoiler: The kiss is amazing. Diana Gabaldon couldn’t have written it better.)

Even if that fantasy doesn’t come true, even if you don’t talk to the reader at all, looking at people’s books is the best way to engage with the personalities of the strangers around you. They say you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but you can definitely judge people by their books. They’re practically taking a piece of their soul and waving it in front of you like a gigantic, colorful flag. It would be rude not to read something into what they’re reading. Here’s what you can find out about a person based on their choice of literature for the commute.

A Romance Novel

This person has a yearning for excitement and adventure. They're just waiting to be swept away by something or someone, and you could be the very person to do it. Not to mention, especially if the cover's showing something a little racy, they're not afraid to show the world what they're about.

Anything by David Foster Wallace

This subway reader is a deep thinker and a lover of discussion. They're prone to late nights talking about the deep fabric of life and what makes us humans tick. This person is a fan of good arguments and isn't afraid to get passionate about what they believe.

Science Fiction/Fantasy

You could chat for hours with this person, brainstorming new worlds and hypothesizing fan theories. But on top of an active imagination, they're also extremely dedicated to the things and people they love. Once you get to know them, they'll stay by your side forever. The bigger the book, the more loyal they are.

Harry Potter

Whether it's their first read or their 10 millionth, anybody you find reading Harry Potter has a big heart and a thirst for adventure. They aren't overly concerned with being a Serious Adult. In their life, they stand up for what's right in whatever way they can, and they're willing to fight for the things they love.

Classic Literature

This person isn't afraid of a little effort, because know that the best moments in life come after good, hard work. They're patient, and won't mind taking the long way home or spending a few extra seconds lingering at a shop window. They have an appreciation for anything vintage, and are perhaps known for refurbishing items they find at garage sales.

The Same Book You're Reading

This is obviously destiny.

Images: Matteo Merzi/Flickr; (6)