I mentioned in my last post that Making Money Made Simple is an embarrassing book to be seen reading on public transport. I wish to qualify that statement. I see no point in being embarrassed by books I am reading. If I am reading them, I have no problem being known to be doing so, with very few exceptions.

The embarrassment happens when the books I am seen reading are those by whose covers one cannot tell them. By this I do not necessarily mean books with resoundingly bad covers, because we are living in an era of beautiful cover designs (though that is not a blanket statement – google bad romance covers at your own peril), but books whose covers or titles conjure up in the mind of the beholder quite a different book than the one I am actually reading. Though I might be happy to be seen reading a get-rich-quick book if I were deliberately reading one, I object to being presumed to be engrossed in one when in fact I am reading Noel Whittaker, and obviously fascinated by his explication of the inner workings of superannuation funds.

Here are some more books that are, or would be, embarrassing to read on public transport:

Dark Lord of Derkholm, Dianna Wynne Jones – this is solely on the basis of the cover, which (in the edition I have) is decidedly not tongue-in-cheek. It is in fact the cover for the book Dark Lord is not, and I find myself wanting to hold a sign explaining that the glowing-eyed villain and flying horses should be read ironically.

Georgette Heyer novels – two reasons for these. One is that they are such delightful puffery that I get a little embarrassed myself about the extent to which I enjoy the best ones. Anyone who recognises the author would probably understand, and this is a good, guilty-pleasure embarrassment which is, however, better accompanied by tea and chocolate than by council bus passengers. The other problem is the new covers which scream “Romance!” And while I hope if I were reading modern romance on the bus I would do so boldly, this is inaccurate. Heyers are very romantic, but almost more so in the old sense of adventure and daring than in the modern one. Misunderstanding! Pistols at dawn! Secret identities! Masked betrayers! Blackmail! Almacks! Highwaymen! Kittens!

Meg Cabot novels – Glitter! Pink! But they probably wouldn’t sell if they featured lists and horse-shampoo on the covers, which are the real appeal.

Anything by Jodi Picoult, Dan Brown or anything that sells well in airports except maybe Tom Clancy. This is an image thing.

The Feminist Gospel. I have to explain this to everyone, from the Christians (it’s an examination, not a statement) to the feminists (why is it pink?).

Anatomy for Artists. The pictures must be from the ’20s, it starts orange and gets worse from there. There’s a worse one out now, though – a reference guide for fantasy artists. I want to buy it just to bring out when I need to fall about laughing. But not on the bus.

The Satanic Verses. People try not to look at you.