Lilian Min
July 16, 2015 2:37 pm

What are you reading? Why are you reading it? The questions are innocuous, but the answers can reveal a lot about a person. To Kill a Mockingbird: Reading that could mean, “I never did my school reading,” or “I’m prepping for Go Set a Watchman.” A Game of Thrones: “I’m sick of people telling me that the books are better.” Modern Romance: “I’m thinking about trying online dating.” The assumptions are all there, but Germany-to-NYC transplant Uli Beutter Cohen wanted to go beyond these snap judgments and get deeper into the thoughts behind fellow book-minded subway riders in NYC. Enter, her initiative the Subway Book Review.

Like fellow social media snap auteur Humans of New York, Cohen approaches strangers in the city and asks to take their photo. But instead of striking up a personal conversation, her approach is to ride the train, then ask reading riders what they’re reading and why they’re reading it.

Approaching people on the train is a practice that benefits from Cohen’s non-native background, as it’s totally not in line with NYC subway protocol. As Cohen explained to The Atlantic’s Citylab, “No New Yorker in their right mind would ever pick the subway as the right place to do this. I have no regard for the zoning out that people are trying to do.”

The Subway Book Review exists on Tumblr and also on Instagram, where the account has over 32,000 followers. We’ve collected some of our favorite stories and images below:

So: What are you reading? Why are you reading it? And, what do you think it says about you?

(Images via.)