On books on trains

On the trainride to and fro Graz I noticed, as always on trains, quite a bit about the reading patterns of some people. There was this one girl on the ride to Graz, who spent the first ten minutes on the train putting on make-up, until she looked like she wanted to audition for a remake of the classic Nosferatu movie. Unsurprisingly, her reading material consisted of a textbook on anatomy, through which pages she lazily thumbed once in a while. In between she kept staring out of the window, without a doubt contemplating the mysteries of mankind. She also had Sartre’s Les Jeux Sont Faits on the little table in front of her. Only time she touched it was when she put it back into her golden purse (I’m not kidding).

On my ride back a guy sat next to me reading Kafka’s The Castle, and just when I thought I had missed the proclamation of Existentialist day, a guy sat down opposite my seat and pulled out a Bible. What a relief! He was skipping through the pages rather lazily as well, but he looked like he knew the content by heart, contrary to Miss Nosferatu and her anatomy book.

Speaking of the Bible, as I saw this guy leafing through the holiness, I just wondered what the literary market would look like without the Book of Books. Wouldn’t upcoming authors be a lot more motivated? I mean, without the Book of Books, wouldn’t an author actually aspire to write THE book? You know, the book everyone has (not necessarily read, but still, everybody has)?

The way it is now, every budding fantasy author knows that there’s no way they can compete with this winning combination of gore, flaming swords and cruel leadership. Especially if there are thousands of organisations out there pitching the piece to anyone who will listen (or actually just anyone).