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Women El riders read more books than men

Women are four times more likely to read a book on their El ride than men.

That stunning conclusion is the result of a highly UNscientific study I've conducted over the last few months. It's based solely on what I observed during my daily Red Line commute. Must be right then, eh? (Hey! No nasty-grams from market research specialists!)

Since December, I've been recording what books people have been reading, and 17 out of 21 El readers were female. Of those 17 women, 13 were in their 20s or 30s, based on my "best guess." (You should see me guess weights at the State Fair.)

So, what's up with that guys? Is the RedEye really that interesting that books just bore you so? (As for me, I'm way too busy craning my neck to write down the titles of books to actually read one. I give my all for you!)

Below is the list of the books I noticed and who was reading them. I didn't get all the author names, and frankly I didn't have the time to double-check spellings, etc. Sorry. But check out these books. Other El riders have. And come on guys -- let's get reading!

A Catered Christmas - woman in her 20s
Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult - woman in her 30s
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebolt - woman, mid-20s
The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers- woman, mid-30s
Ladies Reading Library - 50ish woman
Loving Frank, Nancy Horan - 40ish woman
Outliers - guy in his late 20s
Voodoo Heart - woman in mid-20s
Interpreter of Maladies - woman in mid-20s
Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame, Charles Bukowski - woman in her early 20s
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris - woman, mid 20s
Semiconductor Device Fundamentals - sleepy hipster teen, female
The Awakening and Other Selected Stories, Kate Chopin - woman in her late 20s
Mystery novels (by Stuart Woods) - two different guys in their late 30s
The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy - 30ish woman
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency - woman in her late 20s
Prior Bad Acts, Tami Hoag - woman in her 50s
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - woman in her early 30s
The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier And Clay - woman in her late 30s
The Book and the Sisterhood, Iris Murdoch - woman in her early 30s
The Woman, TC Boyle - man in his mid-50s


That jibes with my unscientific observations, too--and with more scientific surveys of the reading public, which tend to show that women predominate, especially when it comes to readers of fiction. Surprised you didn't see any Devil in the White Citys; seems like there's always someone reading it in any Red Line car I'm in.

(Oh, and a correction: the Iris Murdoch novel is The Book and the Brotherhood, not Sisterhood--a funny (and certainly forgivable) error, given what you were doing when you saw it.)

I cannot read on a moving train. The motion makes me ill when I try to focus on text. That is why I look out window or meditate. I cannot even read a Redeye for a minute or two. So, that is why no book on CTA for me. I don't know if this is common.

The Redeye is barely worth sneezing into.

How many odd looks did you get while conducting this Kevin? :)

Where can I find the girl reading Bukowski?

I read e-books on my iPhone while riding the train quite often. Though if I'm not in the mood to read, I can always play sudoku, Tetris, or Trism. ;)

I thought the Redeye was published for the convenience of bird owners and puppy trainers.

I agree with the "Devil in the White City" comment. I've seen many people reading it on CTA vehicles and polished it off myself in a week's worth of bus rides in January. For the record, I noticed more men reading it than women.

Last summer I overheard a guy mentioning to his friend, with a tinge of disdain in his voice, that girls on the Brown Line are always reading the New Yorker. I thought it was a terrible generalization, but then last Thursday I was on the Brown at about 7:30pm and the woman sitting next to me, the woman standing next to her and the female occupant of the seat in front of us and I were all reading the New Yorker. Who doesn't want to read about the collapse of the Finnish economy while squished (and I do mean squished) in a 4-car train at the tail end of rush hour.

I guess you're only including train riders in your "survey"? I'm a bus rider, male, reading Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, (currently nearing the end of volume 3 out of 6).

I tried to read 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' on the train years ago and I had to stop after the 'Rooster' chapter. I was laughing hysterically, tears streaming down my face. The only people who didn't think I was a nutjob were the ones who'd read it.

I saw a woman on the 137 bus trying to read Homer (not Simpson) while being crammed during the PM rush. Stay tuned for further developments...

I have the same problem Nicholas does. It's been a problem since I was in grade school trying to do homework on the school bus.

"I'm a bus rider, male, reading Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time."

Are you riding the 22? That would be too ironic.

Same thing for the woman reading Homer. I hope it's not the Odyssey. The thought of a CTA bus wandering lost around the city is not out of the realm of possibility.

I take the 147, but I only read if I can't see the lakeshore. It sucks, because the only reason to take that bus is to enjoy the view of the lakeshore, and these stupid 40xx buses already don't make that easy. (What's going on with that stretch near Diversey that's been blocked off?)

My current reading on those occasions is Phil Gordon's "Little Blue Poker Book."

I only read on the CTA when I don't have a good view of the city, which in my case typically means either when I'm caught looking at the lake on south LSD or the highway on the Dan Ryan stretch of the Red Line. Ironically enough, my most recent read along the Dan Ryan was about the explosion of automobile usage in China.

I love this kind of unscientific research. Though I'm surprised that there were no occurrences of women reading "Eat, Pray, Love", or is that terribly 2006 of me? Also, has anyone ever seen a man reading EPL? I haven't. In any case, I've seen that book a lot, usually on the 135 and 156 (the buses I ride to work).

I read RSS feeds on my iPhone, the New Yorker (woefully behind), and US Weekly. Rarely read books, as I'm too busy with the first three. I'm determined to do right by books, though - I have Larry Wilmore's "I'd Rather We Got Casinos" in my bag.

Just as a side note, regarding Homer, the little Loeb Classical Library volumes are a nice size for reading on a crowded train.

Plus we all know what an aura of intrigue surrounds the CTA rider who appears (however misleadingly) to be reading Latin or Greek. Gaudeamus igitur, kids!

I still see a *lot* of "Eat, Pray, Love" consumption. In fact, in my unscientific survey, odds are that if a woman plops down nearby with a book, it's EPL.

I just got a Kindle which is perfect for the train, so keep your eye out for the skinny white tablet and count us like, 10x.

I've been seeing a few Kindles and am intrigued, but probably not enough to plunk down the money for one just yet. However, CPL just emailed me--the new TC Boyle is waiting for me to pick it up tonight. Yay!

I ride the Blue and see the same thing, but lots of the books are either Polish-language romances, or Spanish-language romances.

I am reading Die Besuch der alten Dame by Duerenmatt at the moment. It's a play. Does that make it a book?

I am currently reading the Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction. I only read books on the way home FROM work. But since I read the paper on the way TO work, and the occasional magazine I subscribe to on the way FROM work, it take me a very long time to read a book. What do i do at home, you ask (or maybe you didn't)? I do my own writing of my own stuff.

You might have a hard time telling what I and some others on the train are reading since we are reading e-books. Which may look like checking e-mail or playing games if you can't see the screen.
Another possibility that could be easily missed is that some of those people with headphones plugged into their ears may be listening to audio books. Much easier to do without motion sickness, and easier to do even with the car is packed solid.


Ages ago... probably nearly 30 years ago... "I read The Taking of Pelham 123". Not on the train, but it's setting is on a New York City subway train. In the novel the motorman keeps his attention level up by trying to guess the number of boobs on his train at any given minute.

So for about 30 years, every time I get on a train, I think about that novel, and the motorman in it.

And now you know (one of my) deepest secrets. And the reason why I'm always smiling on the train.

So while Kevin is counting book readers, I'm engaging my mind in a higher persuit. ;)

during the most recent no pants ride there was a male in his 20's reading as book titled the history of pants...

My impression -- that women read more fiction on the El than men -- jibes with Kevin's observations. For my Blue Line rides, I read The Economist pretty much exclusively, and I see quite a few other passengers, mostly men, also reading it.

I'm not a fiction reader at all, despite my wife's best efforts.

Wow, I wonder if that reader of the Interpreter of Maladies had the same problem I did with The Namesake--at two different points, (one on the red line and one on the 92 bus) I couldn't stop myself from getting emotional. That taught me. No more reading Lahiri on the cta.

Women do like their sh*tty fiction books!

I read novels on the train every day, except that since I'm a nerd, I read them on my G1. I'm sure I just look like I'm fiddling with my phone. I would expect that most others doing something similar would be male. For example... I have never seen a female on a bus or train with a Kindle, but I've seen tons of males with them...

"Eat, Pray, Love" is all over the place. So is "Twilight" (ugh!) A lot of the other people seem to be reading things to make them look intellectual. A lot of Dostoevsky, Kafka, blah blah blah.

I'm another of those who get motion sickness reading on the el. Newspapers sometimes I can read, since the shortness of the articles allows me to look up and reorient my body without interrupting the flow of reading. Not so for a novel, or even a long essay.

The CTA's main web site doesn't have any info about it yet, but http://ctabrownline.com says that the Paulina station is reopening on Friday, April 3. Hurray!

When I rode the train (the blue line), I would often read books (now I live less than 2 miles from the office, so I walk when the weather permits - or take the bus).

At damen, you tend to see a lot of Wall Street Journals and Economists appear - both men and women read them. Someone above said he usually sees men reading it, but I'd say my experience was pretty close to 50/50. If men are more likely to read it, its only at a 60/40 ratio.

The WSJ is dominated by men though.

I used to subscribe to the Economist, and I would read it coming in from the Addison stop - I could devour the whole magazine in like 2 days. Cover to cover.

I have tried to read the paper on the EL, but unless you get a seat, it's too unwieldy. And the Sun-Times was the only paper you could read anyway (I know the trib is in tabloid format now - but then it was the ST only). The Red Eye is worthless. I pick it up sometimes, and I'm done with it in about a minute. Totally worthless crap. Going Public is a pale imitation of this blog, so the only thing useful in the whole paper is the sudoku puzzle, and I don't sudoku.

If I remember to take a book, I'll read when I take the bus. Last thing I read on the bus was the Children of Hurin.

I read Devil in the White City on the bus a few years ago. I'm not surprised you don't see it anymore - I think pretty much everyone in Chicago who would read it has. But it was everywhere for a while.

Women definitely read books on the train more often than men though. They also read magazines more often, and even the redeye.

A book I would suggest not to read on the el is 'Underground' by Murakami. The real life accounts of the sarin attack in Tokyo gives way too close a perspective on the travails of the survivors interviewed by Murakami when read on the el.

I always read on the way to and from somewhere. The Redeye gets read during baseball and football seasons just to get snapshots of what happened when I either didnt see the game, or missed sportscenter that morning. In the last two months I read The God Delusion by Dawkins, the End of Faith by Harris, and several old King books.

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