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NYC Straphangers Suspiciously Well Read, If They Do Say So

Filed under: Headline Shooter

Martin Schneider writes:

I found delicious the results of the recent New York Times poll asking, "What Are You Reading on the Subway?"

Let's have a look!

The New Yorker (1,405 readers)
New York magazine (403 readers)
The Economist (371 readers)
Time Out New York (193 readers)
Time (171 readers)
The New York Times Magazine (109 readers)
Newsweek (91 readers)
Harper's (89 readers)
The Atlantic (83 readers)
People (60 readers)

These results are fascinating. So, to summarize: more people are reading The New Yorker than are reading finishers 2 through 7 combined. Wow. Wow.

I think of Nielsen, the ratings company, which used to ask its subjects to record their weekly TV watching habits in a journal—they found they had to jettison that system in favor of an automated one, because people were rarely truthful about what they watched. They tended to underreport their hours per week, and they also tended to "forget" about the trashier side of their TV diet.

I think something similar may be at work here too. (Where's Entertainment Weekly? At least People made the list—barely.)

The books list is similarly (improbably) high-minded, with David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, Robert Bolaño's 2666 (!?), and Anna Karenina all finishing well. I half-expected to see Finnegans Wake in there. (Rowling doesn't make the list.)

I'm being cheeky, but maybe my skepticism is misplaced. I honestly do see people reading The New Yorker on the subway with great regularity, and hell, even if these lists are a touch ... aspirational, it's a fine thing to see such dandy aspirations!

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