[Think Aloud] – #24 – 13 Types of Readers You’ll Encounter On Public Transit

Think Aloud explores book-related discussions encompassing reading, writing, blogging, and perhaps newsworthy content. The focus is to push the boundaries, stretch the mind, and encourage dialogue within this community. Let’s all think out loud.


Table Topic:
13 Types of Readers You’ll
Encounter on Public Transit


Many individuals are readers in their own capacity. These are some types you see commuting on public transit.


There’s nothing quite like being cramped in overcrowded public transportation and still getting your reading game on. Here are 13 types of people (readers) you’ll come across while commuting on buses, subways, or trains. I can assure you that I’ve come across at least one of each and have displayed characteristics of each at some point or another.

1. The Tech Savvy:

Whether it’s the latest and greatest e-reader or simply a swipe of their phone, these readers live the mantra of accessibility. Sure they may be owners of physical books at home but when they’re on the go, you can bet your updates that they’re all about compact functionality. If you look closely enough, you just might see one sniffing some static.

2. The Illusionist:

In most cases, you won’t know they’re listening to music or an audiobook but a telltale sign is if they scramble to pause when interrupted. If you decide to test this theory out, be wary of the battles you pick. 

3. The Silent Judge:

You won’t know what these individuals are thinking as they internalize everything but they’ll most likely forget the snap judgments being made once they find a new prey. Unless of course they’re familiar with the title you’re reading or if the book cover is provocative.


4. The Critic:

These mighty individuals know everything and everything; reinforcing their opinions with eloquence, snark, and conviction. You, as their good friend, have learned to not take what they say to heart but everyone else might think otherwise.

5. The Walking Spoiler:

Tumblr, meet your greatest rival. These are individuals who theorize all things books or television. They’re often just having a great time with their buds, but to everyone else, they’re probably worse than The Critic.


6. The Tome Traveller:

These warriors are either stuffing information into their brains from textbooks, getting swole off using books as weights, or are simply trying to save the world in the behemoth-sized reads. Some might say, “No page too much, no journey too far” or maybe they’re just cramming for an exam.

7. The Everything Reader:

These individuals have seriously mastered the art of sensory Zen. Whether they’re sitting or standing, you’ll see these readers with a book, music, and some form of sustenance…all at the same time.

8. The New Best Friend:

They’re the friendly folk striking up conversations on what you’re reading (or what they’re reading). Both of you might not understand what the other is reading…but books!


9. The Buddy Reader:

Much like The New Best Friend, sometimes they’re nice enough to not bother while you’re slaying mythical creatures or finding Mr. Right—but they’re equally curious—so they read along over your shoulder or through peripheral vision eye-stretching.

10. The Aisle Hog:

Whether they’re pole leaners or straphangers, these readers are natural obstructions and limit the options of feeling safe on a moving locomotive. A kind interjection is often enough for them to move. If not, you’re more than welcome to turn the knob a few clicks toward anger.

11. The Lost Captain:

These journeymen grab hold of information from travel guides and maps and are seekers of extravagance and history as they venture in and out of wanderlust. As tourists, they might not know which direction to head. Better err on the side of the truth than to lead them North when they need to head South.

12. The Well Intentioned:

Part hero, part socialite, but mostly distracted; these individuals have great intentions to read—often having an open book in hand—but end up succumbing to the flashing notifications of a new message on their gadgets. These distractions are internal to the reader as they have the choice of putting down their tech.


13. The Perpetual Eavesdropper:

Similar to the Well-Intentioned, these are individuals who thrive when hearing the most pointless drama. It’s not like you want to listen either…some people are just loud talkers. These readers might look like they’re reading but they all have a tell—the average reader takes 2-4 minutes before flipping the page. If they aren’t doing so, then they’re probably stuck re-reading the same line and paragraph over and over and over again. Such distractions are external to the reader.

Afterthought Prompts:

Which do you identify with? Perhaps you’re a combination of many!

What types of readers do you come across on your travels?

Am I missing some? Let me know!

As always, think aloud. 


connect: afterthoughtAn // twitter  |  anotherafterthought // goodreads


Post Inspiration:

I wrote this discussion with every commuter in mind. This post has been beta read by Joséphine @ Word Revel. 

63 thoughts on “[Think Aloud] – #24 – 13 Types of Readers You’ll Encounter On Public Transit”

  1. I’m totally the Everything Reader. I need music playing to block out everyone’s constant chatter or I’ll end up eavesdropping like the Perceptual Eavesdropper. This is a great post 🙂


  2. I’m a good mix of the Tech Savvy and the Well Intentioned. Sometimes I’ll bring a book but I’ll just end up scrolling through my phone instead. But most of the time I’ll be reading fanfiction on my phone so it still counts, right??


  3. I’ve only ever come across the ‘tech savvy’ reader when I was in London. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone reading on buses where I’m from. I wish I did. I would love to meet my ‘New Best Friend’, as long as I’m in the mood to socialise.
    I used to be the ‘Everything Reader’, I don’t like to waste time. But recently, I’ve just been taking in the view (no music, no book), Just paying attention to everything, it gives me ideas for my artwork or writing and I learn more about people. Even if it makes me look creepy, lol.

    I tried to buddy read once, it’s really pointless, I don’t know why people do it.

    Anyway this was fun 😀


    1. I think I’d be much the same if I was in a new setting but if it’s the same boring subway and same boring advertisements, a book becomes very welcoming! I don’t think it’s creepy unless you’re staring at someone haha.

      I think people buddy read (a la reading over shoulder) just to see what your book is about. Although so many of the instances I’ve come across were people reading the blurb at the back of a 3rd book in a trilogy (unknowingly, I guess) and I’m thinking they spoiled themselves…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Am I the only one that wants to go find some mode of public transport and look for these readers? I live in a rural area and have no public transport near me. But I would probably be the Eavesdropper unless I was really into the book or had music playing as well.


  5. LOL I am probably a combination of the Well Intentioned and the Perpectual Eavesdropper. Not because I’m interested in other people’s conversations but because I can’t concentrate unless there’s absolute silence. And it’s 10x worse when they’re talking in a foreign language… I just spend all my reading time glaring in their direction.


  6. I’m an Everything Reader for sure – I almost always have my headphones in when I’m reading. I do occasionally use an e-reader/my phone, if it’s a short journey or I’m going somewhere where heavy books aren’t convenient (you ever try standing through a concert with a 600 page book weighing you down? Not fun!).


      1. To be completely honest, my interactions haven’t really been with commuters. It’s more of people waiting for their kids after school or at different kid related activities. A few get excited to talk about the book their reading or have read. I have one lady that I run into every Wednesday and now we share the good books we’ve read. Most will just placate me with answers and then ignore me by going to back to their book.


  7. I’m a mix between the Tome Traveller (because of textbooks and assigned reading from classes) and the Everything Reader at the moment. I’m an Everything Reader to avoid being the Perpetual Eavesdropper. Earbuds and music solves the temptation of listening in on pointless conversations. 😀


  8. I’m the Everything Reader. It confuses a lot of people, but I can’t just read, I need to multi task! I think I’ve seen them all on public transport. Some are a little more frustrating than others (cough buddy readers cough). Amazing post! 🙂


    1. Glad I was able to identify most types of readers you see on commute! I just feel bad for people who read backcover blurbs or over your shoulder — and if they do get interested — running the risk of being spoiled. It’d be unfortunate if you were reading a character death in a third book or something, geez!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I am definitely the Everything Reader. Music to block out distractions and noise to get the most of my reading time. If I don’t do the music thing, I turn into the eavesdropper and after my trainride into the frustrated that-conversation-was-not-good-enough-to-stop-reading type 😛


  10. I always have a physical book in my bag for journeys, and I don’t care who’s watching or judging me 🙂 How else are you to spend the time?


  11. I’m definitely an Illusionist, since I get headaches when I read inside a moving vehicle (I know, it sucks!) and can only tolerate music or an audiobook. I would do anything to stay away from the Walking Spoiler, because I don’t want to get into a fight during my commute. XD


  12. Out of all the option I’d say I’m a combination of The Well Intentioned and The Illusionist. It depends on what type of mood I’m in. A lot of the time the noise and constant chatter distracts me from reading so I end up blasting my music while scrolling through my phone.


  13. Love this! I think I’m probably a mixture of the everything reader and the well intentioned… possibly I’m the second one because of the first – I get distracted by all the other things I’m trying to do at the same time (being on public transport is the only free time I have sometimes, gotta cram everything in…!) I think I’d also add another category… The Blushing Reader… I’m always paranoid people are looking over my shoulder and judging me when I’m reading something super-cheesy!


  14. It’s funny, I was just thinking about this when I was on the subway the other day! I was listening to an audiobook because I was standing (I always fear I am going to drop my eReader when I am standing) but I would have said 33% of people were reading a physical book or an eReader (lots of paperbacks which surprised me!), 33% were reading something on their phones and 33% were sleeping 😛


  15. LOL this post is damn hilarious but true. I can’t identify much bc I’m a combination of perhaps a lot. I’m a little guilty of being The Buddy Reader though only for fleeting moments. Oh and I have to admit this extends beyond the book they’re reading. There are also situations when I ACCIDENTALLY [honestly!] get a glimpse on what’s happening on their phone lol. Please tell me I’m not alone lol.


  16. Man, I’ve missed your discussions! I’m a combo of 1, 6,7, and 8 and sometimes 12! I’ve also come across all of these, including 11. This post is on point!


  17. Ha ha ha rereading this post from 2015 made me laugh, Joey, thanks for sharing! Now I’m tempted to wonder if people are trying to categorize me whenever I read in public. Thanks for an entertaining and well-written post, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhhhh. I can’t even read the cringe of my writing from back then but I’m glad you still found enjoyment in it, Thomas! I hope you have been well. And I have actually learned (since then) that I am doubtful that people actually listen to music while they read and just use it as an earplug…because I do exactly that!


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