“...spark some reactions from an otherwise staid subway ridership.”
April 22, 2016 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Subway Reading: Taking Fake Book Covers on the Subway [YouTube] [Video] How would you react if you saw someone reading 'Getting Away With Murder for Dummies on public transport?' Comic Scott Rogowsky (@ScottRogowsky) took some pretend, provocative book covers on an underground operation. [via: The Guardian]
posted by Fizz (55 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
See, here I was expecting him to take one of these on the subway, and thinking that it usually isn't a big deal when I do it.
posted by koeselitz at 9:20 AM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Good Attention & Bad Attention: A Guidebook For Social Interaction
posted by griphus at 9:26 AM on April 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


All Men: This one weird trick to be even creepier on the train will amaze you!

As a commuter: men (and women) don't need one weird trick.

I can't speak to the creepy aspect, but I have seen some things. Creepy things.
posted by Mezentian at 9:26 AM on April 22, 2016


For real. As long as they're not leaving body stuff (pee, semen, toenails that they clipped REALLY LOUDLY all over the damn car) in the subway I don't give a fuck what people are reading.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:30 AM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


For real. As long as they're not leaving body stuff

I've seen people reading later Anita Blake stuff, in public. Does that count?

toenails that they clipped REALLY LOUDLY all over the damn car) i

Excuse me, it's a full moon, and I need to go outside and howl, because why do people do this?
posted by Mezentian at 9:34 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine asked the same for books she took to the beach. Completely nonsensical law book sleeves.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:34 AM on April 22, 2016


Getting Away With Murder for Dummies on public transport? Nah.
Getting Away With Murder On Public Transport for Dummies? Uhhh, still nah.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:35 AM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


BOOK COVER: How to Score an Asian Girlfriend on the Subway
VIDEO: Look, here is an Asian woman made uncomfortable by this
AUDIENCE: That is hilarious, her discomfort
AUDIENCE (cont): I'm glad we're not complicit in gross behavior at the sake of others
posted by beerperson at 9:40 AM on April 22, 2016 [65 favorites]


These days I judge a book by its iPhone case.
posted by srboisvert at 9:43 AM on April 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


So the escalator down to the 7 train at 42nd and Lex is pretty long, and pretty narrow. And then there are a few more stairs around a corner, and then you get down to the platform. You can hear the train coming in long before you can see the platform, and in the evenings it doesn't come all that often. It's no big deal, but it can be frustrating if you're stuck behind someone and you know your train is pulling in and you're gonna miss it.

And it's a cold, wet Wednesday evening, and I'm tired, so I'm not moving all that fast, but man the guy behind me really wants to make it down the escalator, so I slip over to right, even though I'm walking, and I let him get by. And he tears past me like a house on fire, all red and sweaty and coat flapping, but I know he's gonna miss it because I do this every night and I know the sounds.

And sure enough I round the corner just in time to see him jump the last few steps and hit the platform just as the doors close, and he lets out the scream like someone just killed his firstborn and he hurls his book at the closed doors and it lands on the platform all splayed out with that distinctive yellow and black cover.

And it's Anger Management for Dummies.

And I swear that happened.
posted by The Bellman at 9:45 AM on April 22, 2016 [173 favorites]


BOOK COVER: How to Score an Asian Girlfriend on the Subway
VIDEO: Look, here is an Asian woman made uncomfortable by this
AUDIENCE: That is hilarious, her discomfort


The way the video was edited, I don't have faith that the reaction shots we're seeing are even occurring in the same space and time as the book reading shenanigans. For all we know, those people might be responding to the antics of a particularly clumsy subway mime.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:03 AM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


those people might be responding to the antics of a particularly clumsy subway mime.

Well, we can certainly hope so.
posted by aramaic at 10:10 AM on April 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I will happily laugh at the stupidest stuff but this is just not funny to me. It's like a supercut of the studio audience reactions to a live taping of Mama's Family.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:16 AM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Vicki Lawrence is a national treasure.
posted by griphus at 10:20 AM on April 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


BOOK COVER: How to Score an Asian Girlfriend on the Subway
VIDEO: Look, here is an Asian woman made uncomfortable by this
AUDIENCE: That is hilarious, her discomfort


Oh how glad I am that these shirts have largely gone out of style. If looks could kill, there would be a lost generation of young geeks.

I recently picked up this and this and had a brief moment of indecision about whether to flaunt them proudly on the bus. I am all about normalizing female genitalia, but ultimately I decided they were bedtime reading.
posted by sunset in snow country at 10:27 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is this why people spend 65% of their income on to live in NYC?
posted by lownote at 10:29 AM on April 22, 2016


BOOK COVER: How to Score an Asian Girlfriend on the Subway
VIDEO: Look, here is an Asian woman made uncomfortable by this
AUDIENCE: That is hilarious, her discomfort


I don't get how this shit flies in 2016. 2016 for Christ's sake, we're still fetishizing the other in pop culture. This is bullshit.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 10:37 AM on April 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


A few weeks ago on metro I sat perpendicular to a black woman who was reading this, holding it up like how everyone else holds a book to read. I really wanted to talk to her about the book, but I did what any stranger would do and sat there and read my book.

Unsurprisingly, the only times any stranger ever approached me about a book I was reading was when I was reading from a Song of Ice and Fire book. When I read Bad Feminist, I'm sure I got stares, but no approaches.

It's conflicting for me because we should be able to easily approach a stranger and open up a dialog about an interesting topic. But it's uncomfortable and maybe creepy and so we sit there next to each other in bubbles of courtesy, not knowing if we could've made a new friend.
posted by numaner at 10:51 AM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Fixed link
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:57 AM on April 22, 2016


Unsurprisingly, the only times any stranger ever approached me about a book I was reading was when I was reading from a Song of Ice and Fire book. When I read Bad Feminist, I'm sure I got stares, but no approaches.

I read a lot of fantasy, and there are only a few times that someone has felt the need to interupt my reading. I can vividly recall this one time I was tapped on the shoulder and asked about a book, this book: Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint. It's an obvious commentary, but so much of this kind of interaction depends on the title and/or cover art. And this particular edition of Dreams Underfoot was beautifully illustrated.
posted by Fizz at 11:00 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


There are enough interesting titles out there that there's no real need to fake them. This one's good for grabbing a few eyeballs - Nick Flynn's "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City". Not a bad read, either.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:07 AM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


The flip side of this is book cover shame. A sketchy book cover can spoil an otherwise pleasant public reading experience. I'm looking at you cstross*. Here I am reading a great Heinlein homage, and everyone around me thinks I'm reading sex-bot porn.

It's funny how Kindle and Nook have caused a real boom in romance novel e-book sales, because with them you don't have to deal with book cover shame.

*yes, I know it wasn't you.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:11 AM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


My brother in law is a pilot for Alaska Airlines and, in the summer of 1999, when he successfully completed his type rating for the 737 and then made Captain, I had a designer at my company make a fake "737s For Dummies" cover which was glued to a very thumb-worn Dummies book and which I gave to him as a congratulatory gift.

He told me that on a couple of occasions, only when flying routes in Alaska*, he would leave it on the cockpit floor next to the right—his hapless co-pilot's—seat pedestal. In those days the cockpit door was often left open when passengers were boarding and he said it received more than a couple of quizzical looks.

* - Alaska, the state, he pointed out to me, had a much greater tolerance for this kind of joking around about aviation. Not so today.
posted by bz at 11:14 AM on April 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


Lol yes. Romance novels, Fifty Shades, and (on the other end of the spectrum) kids' books - I read them all on my Kindle on the bus without shame.

I had a nice conversation with a stranger about One Hundred Years of Solitude. I had an aggressive, probably mentally ill man get all up in my grill about Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. The most unpleasant book-related public transit interaction I have EVER had was when I was reading The United States of Arugula, but I'm pretty sure that guy had decided that he was going to give me grief no matter WHAT I was reading.
posted by sunset in snow country at 11:17 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


...and people wonder why so many think mass transit sucks.
posted by aramaic at 11:24 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


The flip side of this is book cover shame. A sketchy book cover can spoil an otherwise pleasant public reading experience.

This is always my go-to when it comes to memories of book cover shame. (Though it did teach me to always remove dust covers before hauling around hardcover books, which has the added benefit of keeping them nice and pristine.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:34 AM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


" (Though it did teach me to always remove dust covers before hauling around hardcover books, which has the added benefit of keeping them nice and pristine.)"

Wait what? Nononono... Book covers are supposed to protect the book, sure you can take the protection off, but risking damaging the book to protect the cover is... WRONG.
posted by el io at 11:41 AM on April 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Unsurprisingly, the only times any stranger ever approached me about a book I was reading was when I was reading from a Song of Ice and Fire book. When I read Bad Feminist, I'm sure I got stares, but no approaches.

It's conflicting for me because we should be able to easily approach a stranger and open up a dialog about an interesting topic. But it's uncomfortable and maybe creepy and so we sit there next to each other in bubbles of courtesy, not knowing if we could've made a new friend.


One lesson (or maybe just preconception) I've internalized over the years is that the only time you are ever permitted to talk to strangers on transit is a) an actual emergency or b) something hilarious/frustrating just happened in front of all of you and you all want to make a wisecrack about it. That's it. I can't even imagine trying to talk to anyone about the book they're reading, that just seems so impossibly forward. It's just Not Done.
posted by chrominance at 11:43 AM on April 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


There was a period of my life when I was very much into Magick and Qaballah. Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune and the like. I would read Magick in Theory and Practice by Crowley or The Mystical Qaballah by Fortune late at night on the F train. Never an issue. The time I was approached by a women on the subway I was reading The Dark Tower by Stephen King.

Be careful what you read in public!
posted by Splunge at 12:10 PM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I was 16 guys used to come up to me and ask me what I was reading. I had no idea why they cared, but it still made me uncomfortable.
posted by matildaben at 12:11 PM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


sunset in snow country: "Oh how glad I am that these shirts have largely gone out of style."

I'm guessing the symbols maybe say something offensive but can you elucidate?
posted by Mitheral at 12:11 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sorry. It says "Looking for a Japanese girlfriend." I think they used to sell them on ThinkGeek.
posted by sunset in snow country at 12:30 PM on April 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


Sorry. It says "Looking for a Japanese girlfriend." I think they used to sell them on ThinkGeek.

Oh YUCK! I'm so sorry; that's super gross.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:31 PM on April 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


Man, the "1,000 Places to See Before You Get Executed by ISIS" one also made me really uncomfortable, and not in like a fun artsy way. Maybe I'm just square? I wouldn't go so far as to use the word "trigger" because I have no directly relevant personal trauma, but real people being executed by real ISIS is emotionally distressing to me and not a thought I'd be super grateful to have randomly injected into my subway ride home.
posted by threeants at 12:39 PM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wait what? Nononono... Book covers are supposed to protect the book, sure you can take the protection off, but risking damaging the book to protect the cover is... WRONG.
But. . . that's crazy. Using a thin sheet of glossy paper covered with photos and text to protect a thick, undecorated hunk of cardboard doesn't make any sense. Unless you're protecting it from crayons, perhaps. In which case, you should get higher shelves. We ship photos in cardboard sleeves, but when it comes to books we do exactly the opposite. One train trip in a bag and a paper dust jacket is a tattered wreck with torn, scalloped edges. A hundred trips in the same bag and the cover beneath it is perfectly fine.

Pretending dust jackets are good for anything but the least sophisticated version of store display advertising is just silly. Books don't need 'em. Readers don't need 'em. (And since they're universally badly designed and embarrassing, I wish the publishers would give up on the silly idea and give those five cents to the author instead.) Dust jackets are like the little cardboard spacers placed under chocolates in a box: nobody wants them, but it's not important enough to change anyone's purchasing habits. But that doesn't mean the people who force them on the world aren't jerks for wasting effort on junk.
posted by eotvos at 12:45 PM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I used to know a guy who routinely wore one of those "Japanese girlfriend" shirts while walking around with his actual, theoretically monogamous, non-Japanese girlfriend.

Gross does not even begin to cover it.

Of course, he thought it was *just fine* because he was ~1/16 Asian, and that all the angry looks he got were *hilarious.*
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:52 PM on April 22, 2016


...but real people being executed by real ISIS is emotionally distressing to me and not a thought I'd be super grateful to have randomly injected into my subway ride home.

Not to defend the video or invalidate your feelings (because the video is dumb and your feelings are valid) but the Post and the Daily News have been putting graphic human atrocities on their front page for what feels like decades now.
posted by griphus at 1:00 PM on April 22, 2016


Nononono... Book covers are supposed to protect the book...
...
But. . . that's crazy.


Do you want this to go from a debate about dust covers to a debate about reading in bathrooms or something? Dust covers and bathroom tendencies are discussed continuously throughout the internet, it seems. I object.
posted by mr. digits at 1:14 PM on April 22, 2016


It's conflicting for me because we should be able to easily approach a stranger and open up a dialog about an interesting topic. But it's uncomfortable and maybe creepy and so we sit there next to each other in bubbles of courtesy, not knowing if we could've made a new friend.

As someone who really likes people and genuinely enjoys it when a stranger initiates (non-creepy) conversation, and also as someone who does a lot of reading on the DC Metro, I hate, hate, hate it when I'm reading a good book and a random person approaches me and says WHATCHA READING? If we don't know each other, an open book should be treated as a Do Not Disturb sign.
posted by duffell at 1:35 PM on April 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


This is (sadly) the next logical step after Sean Tejaratchi making fake signs and book covers and Jeff Wysaski leaving fake signs around (which are both usually good with occasional tastelessness). Of course, somebody would take things too far. I just dread to think what's next.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:06 PM on April 22, 2016


If we don't know each other, an open book should be treated as a Do Not Disturb sign.

YES YES YES! Having a book open and looking at it signals "I am reading this book instead of partaking of other activities, such as talking to you." I get pissed when people assume that their desire to talk to me should override the fact that I am clearly expressing the fact that my attention is engaged elsewhere. "Do not Disturb sign" covers it perfectly; it's not just that I'm doing something, it's that I'm signalling to you that I'm doing something. Please respect that.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:07 PM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I used to know a guy who routinely wore one of those "Japanese girlfriend" shirts while walking around with his actual, theoretically monogamous, non-Japanese girlfriend.

Last weekend, some of our family was in Columbus, OH, for our little gymnast's regional championships (he took second on still rings, thanks for asking). The field house where the gymnastics were happening was right next to the stadium, and as we came out around 12:30, an endless stream of Ohio State fans were streaming toward the stadium. I use a rollator to get around (one of those wheeled walkers with a seat built in), and I ended up sitting like a rock in a stream, lounging in my rollator, while the rest of my family went to get the car. Hundreds of people poured past me, and I enjoyed watching them go by.

A guy came past wearing a t-shirt that said, "I love boobies" (with an image of breasts, in case you might think it was a slightly-tasteless bird-watching joke instead of a fully-tasteless non-joke). His girlfriend was walking with him hand-in-hand. I wanted to tear the shirt off his back and set it on fire, and then tell his girlfriend that, for the greater good of womankind, she needs to not publicly cast her approval on such things.
posted by not that girl at 2:07 PM on April 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm also with whoever said up-thread that it wasn't clear the people were actually reacting to his book, in most instances. This joke reminds me of when somebody (usually a pretty young person) tells a story about some thing they did and how everyone around them was just so shocked and OMG! and couldn't believe it, and you think, "Nobody was actually paying attention to them."
posted by not that girl at 2:11 PM on April 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


A guy came past wearing a t-shirt that said, "I love boobies"...

Is that the one from the breast cancer awareness (?) campaign that just turned into a bunch of companies not affiliated with the campaign marketing the same t-shirt but without the, uh, awareness part?
posted by griphus at 2:34 PM on April 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sorry. It says "Looking for a Japanese girlfriend." I think they used to sell them on ThinkGeek.


I'm fairly certain these originated on Jlist.com - their hachimaki version is a top seller, and made in Japan as well.

Also, eww.
posted by cwhitfcd at 3:09 PM on April 22, 2016


Headphones + book. I'm neither looking at nor listening to you.
posted by ostranenie at 6:21 PM on April 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wait what? Nononono... Book covers are supposed to protect the book, sure you can take the protection off, but risking damaging the book to protect the cover is... WRONG.

The first thing I do when I buy a new hardcover book is take off the dust jacket and throw it in the first garbage can I see upon exiting the bookshop.
posted by 256 at 6:34 PM on April 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


The first thing I do when I buy a new hardcover book is take off the dust jacket and throw it in the first garbage can I see upon exiting the bookshop.

Heretic.
posted by Fizz at 1:11 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, always go for the second garbage can.

Book covers make no sense. "They keep the cover looking new and beautiful" -- yes, the cover that you can't see, because it's covered with a dirty book jacket.

I mean, I understand it in the case of school textbooks--those covers are regularly replaced, so it starts nice, gets scuzzier and scuzzier, and then one day -- new book cover! It looks nice again! But nobody does that with regular books. You don't see people taking the dirty, torn cover off their cherished fantasy novel or historiography or sociological expose and replace them with new, pristine covers. They just keep the original covers on it until they look shittier and shittier and shittier, confident in the knowledge that there's certainly some beautiful cover underneath that no humans will ever actually see.
posted by Bugbread at 8:33 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not fun, it's not funny.
posted by cell divide at 9:18 PM on April 23, 2016


I think I want a dust cover that says "How to get away with killing annoying people who insist on talking to you while you're reading a book".
posted by happyroach at 2:54 AM on April 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


A sketchy book cover can spoil an otherwise pleasant public reading experience. I'm looking at you cstross*. Here I am reading a great Heinlein homage, and everyone around me thinks I'm reading sex-bot porn.

Fool.

The sexbot cover is what made it the perfect late Heinlein tribute, or have you never seen the Whelan cover for Friday?
posted by MartinWisse at 6:53 AM on April 24, 2016


Or the covers for I Will Fear no Evil

Or To Sail Beyond the Sunset

Or another Friday.

Really no lack of choices here.
posted by Mitheral at 8:42 PM on April 24, 2016


Same problem. Here I am reading a great Heinlein homage, and everyone around me thinks I'm reading sex-bot porn.
posted by Bugbread at 9:00 PM on April 24, 2016


(Note: I cannot speak as to whether those are great Heinleins, mediocre Heinleins, or terrible Heinleins)
posted by Bugbread at 9:01 PM on April 24, 2016


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