Sunday, March 07, 2010

TSS: Reading on the train

This week my (unofficial) Sunday Salon post was inspired by a post that Stefanie from So Many Books did last week about taking a peek at what other commuters are reading. I also used to read a blog called Seen Reading which looked at what other people were reading although Julie also makes up stories about the people who are reading the book as well!

What I decided to do this week was to keep a list of the books that I saw other people reading near me on the train, and then pick one book each day to talk about for whatever reason it appealed to me! Some days I have titles, other days just the author name, depending on how much I could ascertain from the book without really, really freaking out the other people on the train!


Patricia Cornwell

Joe Donnelly (from the cover I would have picked this as some kind of thriller but apparently Joe Donnelly is a fantasy writer. I don't recall having heard of him before)

The Bible

The Mascot: Unraveling The Mystery Of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood by Mark Kurzem

The book that most interested me on Monday was The Mascot, which I don't recall hearing about before. I find the WWII completely fascinating, and just reading the blurb makes me want to read it! I've requested this one from the library already.

'A powerful book . . . revealing his father's remarkable and horrific story' Sunday TelegraphOne summer's day in 1997, Mark Kurzem returned home to find his father on his doorstep. Alex Kurzem had travelled halfway round the world to reveal a long-kept secret, and now wanted his son's help to piece together his past and his identity.As a five-year-old during the Second World War, Alex Kurzem had watched from a tree as his entire village, including his family, were murdered by a German-led execution squad. He scavenged in the forests of Russia for several months before falling into the hands of a Latvian SS company. After one soldier discovered this young boy was actually Jewish, Alex was made to promise never to reveal his true identity - to forget his old life, his family, and even his name. The young boy became the company's mascot and part of the Nazi propaganda machine responsible for killing his own people.After the war Alex was adopted and his new family made a home in Australia, far from the sites of wartime atrocities. But after fifty years of holding onto this childhood secret, Alex needed to discover and share the astonishing truth about his past.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (for a while there the Twilight books were in the hands of many commuters!)

Scott McGough

Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larssen

Himalaya by Michael Palin

If There Be Thorns by Virginia Andrews

Lyndon B Johnson: Portrait of a President by Robert Dallek  (the chapter was called After the Fall which seems to be from this book!)

I used to love watching Michael Palin's travel documentaries, but I have never read any of his books! In fact I used to read a lot of travelogues, but I don't think I have read one for years!

Having risen to the challenge of seas, poles, dhows and deserts, the highest mountains in the world were a natural target for Michael Palin. In a journey rarely, if ever, attempted before, in 6 months of hard travelling Palin takes on the full length of the Himalaya including the Khyber Pass, the hidden valleys of the Hindu Kush, ancient cities like Peshawar and Lahore, the mighty peaks of K2, Annapurna and Everest, the bleak and barren plateau of Tibet, the gorges of the Yangtze, the tribal lands of the Indo-Burmese border and the vast Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh. Facing altitudes as high as 17,500 feet as well as some of the world's deepest gorges, Palin also passed through political flashpoints like Pakistan's remote north-west frontier, terrorist-torn Kashmir and the mountains of Nagaland, only recently open to visitors. They had a brush with the Maoists while filming in Nepal and advice from the Dalai Lama before crossing into Tibet. This book records the pleasure and pain of an extraordinary journey accompanied by the superb photogrpahs of Basil Pao. This is adventure at the very highest level.


Heaven by Virginia Andrews (I was a little surprised that I saw a few Virginia Andrews books this week!)

Open by Andre Agassi

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Australian Citizenship book

This charming man by Marian Keyes

I, Alex Cross by James Patterson

Initially I was planning to post about the Australian Citizenship Book, because I am not sure if it is something that other countries have, but instead I am going to talk about the person who was reading I, Alex Cross by James Patterson.

I have talked briefly about my train friends a couple of times, but what started my connection with these people was books! I always read on the trains, and when there was only one or two of them by themselves they were reading, and one day I started chatting to one of the ladies about the book she was reading, and then since then, I started sitting and chatting with them (which is not actually all that conducive to reading but still). A couple of the girls aren't readers, but if I happen to get on the train and there is just one of the other readers, we might chat, but it is just as likely for one of us to say something along the lines of "I want to read today" and we quite happily sit there reading our books with only the occasional comments!


This Charming Man by Marian Keyes - I quite often stand next to the girl who is reading this book. She has been reading it for a while now but she is nearly at the end!

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass

The Danger Game by Kalinda Ashton (This was a new to me author. Will have to check out more about this book at some point)

Picnic at Hanging Rock is an Australian classic, and was made into a movie a while ago by Australian Director Peter Weir. I read it in my pre blogging days, and still couldn't really tell you what happened to the girls. Here's the blurb:

On Saint Valentine`s day, 1900. a party of ninteen girls accompanied by two schoolmistresses sets off from a fashionable College for Young Ladies for a day`s outing at the spectacular volcanic mass called Hanging Rock. What begins as a pleasant and happy day out ends in inexplicable terror. The sinister implications of the events cannot be ignored, and Joan Lindsay traces the effects of this mysterious incident on the lives of the people involved.


I had a much shorter commute on Friday as I drove most of the way into the city because the boy had his cricket final on Friday night.

Frostbite by Rachelle Mead

Debt of Honour by Tom Clancy

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

Assegai by Wilbur Smith

I talked a bit before about how I hadn't read many travelogues recently. Another setting I haven't read much of lately is Africa (if you don't count the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books that is). I really enjoy reading big adventure stories, and I am pretty sure if I ever read a Wilbur Smith book I would like it! One day I will...maybe! I really should try and read more Beverly Harper too. I really liked the books I read by her, but haven't read any in a while! Here's the blurb for Assegai:

It is 1913 and ex-soldier turned professional big game hunter, Leon Courtney, is in British East Africa guiding rich and powerful men from America and Europe on safaris in the Masai tribe territories. One of his clients, German industrialist Count Otto Von Meerbach, has a company which builds aircraft and vehicles for the Kaiser’s burgeoning army. But Leon had not bargained for falling passionately in love with Eva, the Count’s beautiful and enigmatic mistress. Just prior to the outbreak of World War I, Leon is recruited by his uncle, Penrod Ballantyne, Commander of the British Forces in East Africa, to gather information from Von Meerbach. He stumbles on a plot against the British involving the disenchanted survivors of the Boer War, but it is only when Eva and Von Meerbach return to Africa that Leon finds out who and what is really behind the conspiracy.
So there you have it! My observations about the books that I saw other people reading on the train this week! I might do this again for another Sunday Salon post.

Edited to add: Muse in the Fog has started a Suddenly Sunday meme for people like me, who want to post on a Sunday but can't participate in Sunday Salon because it is now closed to new members. Check out all the details here


  1. I am intrigued by Picnic at Hanging Rock. I've never heard of it, but have put it on my wish list!

  2. You saw quite a variety of books this week. Did it inspire you to add any to your TBR list?

    Visiting from the Saturday Network.

  3. Hi Kathy. Thanks for stopping by!

    It reminded me that there were certain books I hadn't read for a while, and I have already requested The Mascot from my library as that one sounded very interesting to me.

  4. What a great post - I really enjoyed reading it. Not being a commuter this is something I won't experience but it sounds fun.
    The Mascot sounds good - adding that to my list.

    Muse in the Fog has started a Suddenly Sunday meme for those of us shut out of SS - mine is here.

  5. Cat, I just found out about Muse's meme after I posted this one. I will join in with Suddenly Sunday next week instead of only kind of particpating in Sunday Salon.

  6. What an exciting pastime! I love trains, BTW, but I can see that it might be boring to do it frequently. Making up stories about passengers and sneaking a peek at their!

    My Salon is here:

  7. That's awesome. Makes me sad I don't take the train to work anymore.

  8. Thats great to see so many different books being read by commuters.

    When I lived in Queensland I used to commute 90mins each way on the train and got so much reading done! Ahh, they were the days :)

  9. That's so fun to do! I should do it and then take notes on what people are reading, too :-)

  10. Aarti, it is fun to do! I wouldn't do it regularly, but every now and again I might do it.

    Bella, I used to have a similar commute. Now it is about half that time, and I spend at least some of that time chatting, so I am not getting anywhere near as much reading done.

    Amy, given that we had issues with trains one night last week, I wouldn't quite go that far! lol

    Laurel, I always sneak a peak, but this is the first time I have written anything down or blogged about it.

  11. what a cool idea. I am always nosy about what others are reading.

  12. Oh Marg, this was great! I can't recall the last time I have seen anyone reading a V.C. Andrews book. Are they having a little resurgence I wonder? Your train friends sound fantastic!

  13. I love to look at what other people are reading. It sometimes inspires me to try something different. I recently brought an associate of mine to our local drug testing facility and saw quite a different mix of books on their small bookshelf including The Shack,Vision of White by Nora Roberts, a government espionage thriller, and a collection of Native American short stories.

  14. There are so many readers on my bus which I love. I also try to see what other people are reading too.

  15. I've seen the movie Picnic at Hanging Rock (strange and enjoyable) but never knew it was a book. Thanks for the heads up! I'll have to track this one down, I think.

  16. I've read several of Michael Palin's travelogues and they're quite enjoyable. I own one of them but can't remember which one at the moment. I'm a sucker for travelogues / travel memoirs!

    I somehow didn't realize that Picnic at Hanging Rock was based on a book. It's a great atmospheric movie, with this sinister undercurrent.

  17. I love this idea! I am always trying to see what others are reading out in public, but sometimes get the feeling that by snooping at their books I am being rude. I am glad others are as curious as I am! Great feature, I hope you do it again!

  18. Zibilee, there were definitely people who probably wondered what I was looking at!

    Christy, the book is really creepy too. I used to be a sucker for travelogues but haven't read one for ages.

    Lesley, hope you manage to get hold of it.

    Linda, have you ever talked to anyone about what they are reading?

    By Book or by Crook, other people's bookshelves are fascinating too, especially in public places!

    Stefanie, I was really surprised that I saw so many. Saw another one today too.

    Stephanie, so glad I am not alone in being nosy!