Seen Headslapping

It took me reading less than a sentence to give myself a metaphorical headslap today. As in the kind of headslap you give yourself when you find someone’s done something you’ve kind of, almost, could have, should have thought of yourself: Julie Wilson has followed in the tradition of turning a good idea into a blog that in turn gets picked up to be a book with Seen Reading.

It evolved from her fascination with what people were reading on the train. Specifically that people reading in public ‘read and reveal’ stories: ‘Those of us around those readers often, and easily, lose ourselves in the imagined world of those readers: Who are they? Where are they coming from? Going to? Does their choice of book say anything about them?’

That premise is something I’ve blogged about before, including how e-readers are making it more difficult for voyuers like me to know what my fellow passengers are reading; that and how the mystery’s absolutely killing me. It is also the kind of thing I’ve regularly discussed but haven’t been quite clever enough to turn into a blog and then a book.

Cue headslap.

But I digress. While I wasn’t clever enough to seize and make good on the idea, Wilson has. And she’s done an excellent job of it. The blog is updated regularly. The book which has emerged from it contains microfiction based on the person she’s seen reading. The microfiction itself is faced by a short bio of the reader.

Wilson’s bio made me chuckle: ‘This space will change often because Julie can’t make up her minds.’ The summary, which is likely to change given her all-too-familiar-to-me inability not to keep tinkering with her bio is that she’s an experienced industry professional, working in marketing for a publishing house’s website, hosts another, blogs as ‘The Book Madam’, and has written for a bunch of esteemed magazines we’d all recognise. Ergo, she has the skills and the knowledge to make Seen Reading a success.

Say, for example, how she’s utilising social media to get people involved and contributing. Her How To Be A Literary Voyeur page outlines how to do this, coincidentally listing the book I’ve just read and intend to blog about on this site in coming days:

‘Vancouver. SFU. Woman, mid 20s, wearing blue hoodie. The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll. (@chimpsoffauna) #seenreading (131 characters)’

It follows, as she explains, a simple formula:

‘The formula is simple: [where] + [what the book is] + [who the book is by, along with @writer or @publisher mention if you know them] + [#seenreading hashtag].’

If you’re keen, you can follow Wilson at @SeenReading or contributing using the #seenreading hashtag.

I will be. Once I’ve slapped my forehead some more.

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.