Reading in public


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It started out as a local project in San Luis Obispo, a coastal town midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The idea: to take reading to the streets. Organized by two devoted readers, Reading in Public took place on Aug. 1. Volunteers read aloud in a chair designed for the occasion by an award-winning furniture designer.

That day consisted of a sequence of readings, in one place after another (above, two readers commandeered a parking spot, ‘greening’ it with Astroturf). Each person decided what they’d like to read, and plans were on for a second annual Reading in Public next year.


But that’s not all. A Flickr group set up by organizers Mignon Khargie and Catherine Trujillo has begun to swell with photographs of people reading in public. There are pictures of people reading in Paris, in Chile, on the Lower East Side, in the Philipines, in a downscale restaurant in London and more.

There’s a man in Germany, propped against a garbage bin; a librarian in a high, stiff collar in Damascus, shot from outside, a stack of books next to his window. The breadth of circumstances and places where people read is a reminder of what a universal pleasure reading can be.

Although you may not be in San Luis Obispo next year to join in the public reading, you are more than welcome to add your Reading in Public photos to the Flickr site.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Reading in Public