Reading Naked

I was at Park Street, one of the busiest subway stations in Boston, waiting for the green line to take me all the way out to Newton for the day, and I look down amongst the poles to see a guy carrying—could it be?—the exact same book I picked up two days ago, Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle

Amazing book. A real page turner.

And it made me think back to something an art student once said to me; we were talking about authors and he said of one particular writer that he had kept his book in the bathroom and read it only while he was on the john, and he wasn’t sure if it was the writing or the fact that he was in a perpetual vulnerable state, but he felt such a connection to the book. And here I was feeling such a connection to The Glass Castle because there, serendipitously, was someone else reading the same thing too.

There are maybe five books on my “Currently Reading” shelf, and it’s not because I’d hate to finish them but rather because I pick them up based on my intended location. I can “be seen” reading Jeannette Walls, so I tote her around the city sneaking passages on the train or burying my nose into the spine while walking down the sidewalk. But Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart New York is so low brow for me that I haven’t read a single page outside of my bedroom; God forbid anyone catch me reading her. And Louis Menand I only read on airplanes because then I’m forced to plow through a text which I enjoy but find the actual act of reading to be tedious and exhausting.

I don’t come from a newspaper-under-the-arm-heading-to-the-bathroom kind of family dynamic, but I do wonder which books would I have chosen to include in the bathroom reading category. Russian novels, or literary magazines? How would my location and subsequent activities affected my take on Anna Karenina? I remember reading Me Talk Pretty One Day on a Florida beach in the middle of July, and being grateful I chose a secluded spot or else the neighboring sunbathers would have been disturbed by my constant cackling at Sedaris’ witty prose. A perfect beach book—light, clever, charming. Which authors lend themselves to be read while in various states of disrobe-ment? (And is this an achievement to strive for or steer clear from?)