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SEPTA Finds Out "What You Are Reading"

Heather Redfern
SEPTA Public Information Manager

Ever wonder what books, periodicals and newspapers are holding the attention of SEPTA passengers on their daily commute? The Authority was curious and recently asked customers "What are you reading?" in a social media-driven contest.

From April 2-21, SEPTA commuters submitted the titles of their reading material, along with #enrichyourride, to SEPTA's Facebook page,, ISEPTAPHILLY's Instagram feed and the @ISEPTAPHILLY and @SEPTA_Social Twitter feeds. The results are in and the responses run the gamut from romance novels and biographies to knitting patterns and text books.

"We received an eclectic mix of entries across many genres," said SEPTA Marketing Director Liz Bradford. "Of all the book titles that were submitted, the only repeats were the Game of Thrones and Divergent series, which is also what many people are watching on TV and at the movies."

The "What are you reading?" submissions suggest that SEPTA passengers read for pleasure and for self-improvement. Book titles included The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Philadelphia native Ayana Mathis, The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler and Suze Orman's The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke. Many riders use the commute as a chance to catch up on current events, choosing to read The Philadelphia Inquirer and Metro newspapers, Sports Illustrated, Time and Philadelphia magazines.

"I read the Inquirer on the train every morning. By the time I arrive, I am the most informed person in the office," wrote one commuter. She added that she does the cryptogram and Sudoku puzzles on trip home. "Riding SEPTA gives me the time to enjoy every bit of my daily paper!"

Three random "What are you reading?" entrants were selected to win SEPTA prize packs. Lois Reibach received the grand prize - a May monthly SEPTA pass and two front row passes to "Stand Up Straight and Sing", a conversation with Jessye Norman, at the Parkway Central Library. First prize winners Joia Mitchell and Amanda Champagne won ISEPTAPHILLY t-shirts and two front row passes (respectively) to "Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America", a conversation with John Waters, and "Written in My Own Heart's Blood", a conversation with Diana Gabaldon, both of which will be held at the Parkway Central Library. Among the books the contest winners are reading are Red Velvet Revenge by Jenn McKinlay; The Body in the Piazza by Katherine Hall Page; Confessions of a Sociopath by ME Thomas; Immaculate Confusion by Valentina Goldman; and The Mad Scupltor by Harold Schechter.

"While the contest was held in conjunction with National Library Week, we do hope it inspired our customers to explore different types of reading materials while riding SEPTA and that they will continue to share the titles with their fellow commuters," said Bradford.

SEPTA riders are voracious readers, carrying paperbacks, textbooks, newspapers and e-readers along for the commute.

One of the books contest winner Lois Reibach is reading is "When Will There Be Good News" by Kate Atkinson

To help SEPTA customers make their rides more enjoyable by borrowing book from the Free Library of Philadelphia's digitial collection, the Library's Techmobile visited SEPTA headquarters during National Library Week.