Friday, August 04, 2006


One of those blogs that linked to another blog taught me this morning that reading a book on the London Metro can be one way of meeting someone. HOWEVER, keep in mind the ff:

- guys still look at the girls' looks before checking out the book
- the more "macho" the writer, the more chances of getting picked up
- Dan Brown, Da Vinci Code, and any chickflit is a definite turn off, except for those who think that discriminating against someone who reads said author and books is a turn off. Better yet, just chuck it out the window and show that you have cojones
- girls like guys who show their feminine side in their lit choices, but still prefer men who are cute and can read
- it's debatable whether or not to read War and Peace in a subway/train ride. Some say it's a good sign, the others say it's just for show.

Not to toot my own horn, but I have read W&P, three times (never on a metro/subway/train. I read Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy over a month of riding the trains in China and got carpal tunnel and upper back pain lifting that monster around; delightful and would read it again, but not while travelling. Okay, back to today's segue). Once, in a seemingly weird bit of family urban legends, it is said that I read it when I was a kid, because I was watching the tv mini-series and wanted to know who the heck the characters were. I don't remember reading the book then, I doubt I remember reading anything when I was a kid, but my dad remembers me trailing the book around the house and rambling on about Natasha and Pierre.

Second time, 8th grade. We had a gorgon for an english lit teacher, Ms. Geronimo. She gave herself a brand new set of tires for christmas one year; she was also fond of sending the entire class to wait outside as punishment if we got out of hand. But I do have fond memories of her and that english class. We all had to read 10 books in the year, and make massive book reports on them. Since I had already planned to do W&P for one of my books, I had to plan it out and do shorter, easier stuff the rest of the year. And it took me awhile to get through the entire volume this time (shorter attention span perhaps? After all MTV had just begun invading our tellies). But I remember reading through the scenes of war and thinking, damn this is bloody good. And I still didn't like war fiction. Got an A on the report. Heck for effort, I deserved an A+.

The third reading took place not too long ago. I had returned from HK, needed distraction, found an online bookgroup reading big fat classics and saw they had scheduled W&P for a three month run. Nice, easy reading, with lots of input from people all over. I must admit I enjoyed the chit chat more than reading the book again, but it was enjoyable to go over Tolstoy one more time. He writes clear, brilliant passages. It's a humanistic book. Really. Sometimes you want to just grab the characters by the shoulders and shake them out of their stupid actions, especially if you're like me who would like to physically shake someone to see if their head rolls back and forth like a doll. But I found that I enjoy the scenes describing the battles more than the discussions of the farm equity, serfdom, and "peaceful" set ups. I still don't like war fiction or non-fiction, or perhaps I tell myself I don't but am truly bloodthirsty.

There's a new edition and translation of W&P out, and I noted it on Torn and Frayed's blog. My copy of the new translation hasn't arrived yet, but I saw it was available at Powerbooks. My fantasy is to do a side by side comparison of the translations, just to see which one I like the best. Fantasy as it may take me forever to do so, and there's so much to do that a comparative reading analysis seems to be the ultimate in leisure these days. Wallowing in words.


wysgal said...

Whenever in a bookstore I inevitably find myself looking over (and silently judging?) book selections of everyone around me --- male or female. =)

christine said...

I read that article from the guardian too. And it's funny how they particularly mention the tube as the place for readers, you would NEVER find me on the tube without a book for some reason.

Now whether on the tube, bus, park, coffee shop, bus stop, I would always look at what other people are reading but only out of curiosity. Maybe it's a book I hadn't heard of, and if it was I would "amazon it" as soon as I got home.

Then if the hands holding the book happened to be male, my gaze would inevitably move up to his face and see if he was cute hehe. I DO find a many who reads very sexy! And while I try not to judge anyone by what he reads, I would hope it isn't chick lit!

Mila Tan said...

Ah, but have either of you chatted up someone if you like their choice of literature? Your next challenge is to do so! Heehee.

Katrina said...

As a kid, I used to read while on the road every day. But now, motion sickness won't allow me to. Such a pity considering how much time I spend in traffic.

Mila, I can't imagine reading "A Suitable Boy" while traveling! It took me a long time to finish that because I just couldn't take it out of the house, just too heavy. Especially since I had the hardbound version! My then-flatmate said the reason the book had to be so thick was because that's how long it takes to actually find a suitable boy. ;-)

Mila Tan said...

Lol, I had the hardbound version too, so it was great for smooshing weird looking bugs in Chinese hotels, trains, buses. But yeah, imagine lugging it around for a month. A chapter a day though, kept me sane when I thought I needed to seriously consider mass murder (China does that to you, especially if you backpack).

christine said...

"Ah, but have either of you chatted up someone if you like their choice of literature?" Yes, I have actually, a couple of times. And both times were women, Now if you meant chatted up a hottie about what he was reading, nope. I haven't progressed to that level yet lol. That would definitely be a challenge for me!

Mila Tan said...

At the cheeseclub a friend of mine wanted to chat up one of the cute guys but lost her nerve. Maybe if he had been reading instead of eating cheese it would have been easier.

wysgal said...

It's actually easy to "chat people up" at cheese club. Nametags, cheese, wine, no tables ...

Although I'm always with my father so that would end up being a bit weird for me.

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