As a long term reading enthusiast (personally and professionally - I work in a library), I am compelled to encourage the book worm in everyone that has the misfortune to meet me. Reading is a pastime that masquerades itself as educational, but is far too enjoyable to only be described as such.
On my daily commute I always sneak a peak at what my fellow travellers are reading. If I'm not inhaling a book myself, I will shockingly disregard social norms and read over others' shoulders. It's always interesting to note the patterns and trends of popular titles.
Your commuting book can be as revealing as your supermarket trolley, and yes others are looking and judging you by your choices. The title you choose can say a lot about you, and I sometimes amuse myself by trying to predict what the person opposite is reading from their clothing and general demeanour. For example, the serious, arty-type gentleman with horn-rimmed glasses, brightly coloured socks and brogues is likely to read a serious, arty-type author such as Iris Murdoch or Jack Kerouac. And the young lady wearing a grey office suit with a brightly coloured bag and fun scarf will have a Costa Book Award winner or flavour of the month titles like Fifty Shades of Grey (just say no kids). One quick note about ebook readers - they're very convenient, weigh less than a paperback, can carry your whole bookshelf in one small package yadda yadda yadda, but they ruin my predicting fun (and the hard-copies-are-dying argument too, pfft). It's a lot harder to nose at other people's books when I can't see the book cover!
Having worked in libraries for quite a while, I can firmly assert that judging a book by its cover is actually a remarkably sensible thing to do (at least with recent publications - I can't speak for the horrors of the 80s and 90s). Book covers are essentially adverts for the innards, and as such have to cause a song and dance to appeal to their target reader. I've managed to deduce a 'style guide' to book covers, which helps me to decode whether or not I want to read a book by a new author.
For my daily drifting-off-to-sleep read, I like a book that can hold my interest but is easy to absorb. So-called 'cozy murders' or 'cozy mysteries' are my bed time genre of choice. They can be easily picked out amongst the heavier crime fiction by their painted illustration covers and jaunty fonts used on the spine. I can spot them on a shelf from 10 yards (as long as my glasses are on my nose, which they frequently aren't).
My favourite mystery authors write intelligent, quietly funny old-fashioned good stories, none of this new-fangled challenging nonsense for my book at bed time please! I save those to maintain my reputation as a Serious Reader on my train ride to work. Authors such as Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce is a precocious but wild 12 year old with a penchant for chemistry and solving murders in a 1950s English village), James Anderson (the butler never does it in his jolly trilogy following murders in the 1930s country estate of the eccentrically lovable Earl of Burford and his family) and Patricia Wentworth never disappoint.
Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver is often compared to Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, but I'd take Silver over Marple any day. Wentworth's main character is a gentle elderly lady whose fondness for knitting and previous career as a governess makes her the unassuming private detective of choice for the well-to-do set she circulates with. Set in 1920s-1950s England (do you see a pattern here?), Miss Silver goes for extended stays in the homes of her troubled clients and watches the mysteries unfold until she catches the culprits at their guilty worst. There's normally a pair of unknowing lovers that get married off too. In short, Patricia Wentworth always provides an excellent read. And her book covers are beautifully illustrated with gorgeous vintage persons, making them a perfect choice to proudly display on the train (judge THAT fellow passengers).
What sort of books do you enjoy reading?