By Amanda Cleary Eastep

I was in Goodwill searching through the beat up paperbacks–creased faces, curled corners, dog-eared pages–when I spied the elderly man sitting with his back to the front store window. The winter sun illuminated his white beard and the book he was reading…

I once had dreams of being a National Geographic photographer, capturing the stories of people in the streets of Mumbai or the sheep pastures of Scotland.

So the frustrated photojournalist in me couldn’t resist the scene…the light, the kitschy ceramic beagle in the foreground, the pile of clothes in the cart bedside him that he guarded for his wife.

What else could I do but hide behind a rack of something that smelled like a hamper and covertly take his photo? 

That’s what started the whole #readerinthewild thing on Instagram

A (possibly maybe probably weird) past-time of capturing photographs of people reading books–print books, not ebooks (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

As Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) is quoted as saying: “Lovers of print are simply confusing the plate for the food.”

I, however, might then point out the difference between eating a steak off a paper plate and colorful Fiesta potteryware.

J.K. Rowling said that it didn’t matter if people read print or digital, just as long as they were reading. So true.

But still…

I began my hunt for people reading print books, and my Instagram hashtag #readerinthewild was born.

Have you ever played that game where you try to spot all the bright green Kia Souls, and suddenly you’re seeing them everywhere?

I’ll bet after you read this post the same thing will happen. 

Yes, you’ll start seeing bright green Kia Souls everywhere…but also people reading books “in the wild.” I hope you are one of them.

Since I started this about a year ago, I’ve shared nearly 50 photographs on Instagram at book_leaves. If you take a closer look at a few of these, you can read the original captions.

Behind each reader is a personal story about books. Why we read them (or don’t), why we choose the books that we do, and how books shape our own stories (hopefully for the better).

Here are some of my favorites:

This is commitment.
Print vs. Digital: Fight!
All the cool kids are…
I can only hope this graphic novel is also homework.
The first rule about Book Club? You do not talk about Book Club.
Book tucked under her arm, she tells a story of shopping at the thrift story as a child and scooping books into the cart.
I’m just a seagull, standing in front of a man, asking him to read To Kill a Mockingbird to me.

And finally, the always precious sight of a tiny reader…

What book are you currently reading in the wild? I’d love to hear.

Featured photo by Hitoshi Suzuki on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “#readerinthewild

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