Taking a leaf out of a little girl’s book

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

There’s something depressingly familiar about the photo below. And something beautiful. Can you see which is which?

I took the picture while riding the MTR in Hong Kong last night. I just happened to choose the line-up of passengers opposite but in reality I could have snapped dozens of similar images at any time during my stay here over the past couple of weeks. Equally it could have been London or just about any other city in the world. Except maybe for the beautiful element, which was so rare I simply had to photograph it.


There are nine people in shot. Eight of them (that’s 88.88%) are using mobile devices. Four of them (44.44%) are wearing earphones, grimly blocking out all audible contact with the world. Most of them, it appears, are either playing games or texting or e-mailing. All but one look as though they are attending a funeral.

One is not using or even carrying a mobile device. She (the little girl aged about five, third from right) is reading a book. Not only reading it but totally engrossed in it. Every now and again she would smile. As we all reached the last stop on the line, all nine passengers got out, eight of them worryingly still glued to their devices. The little girl kept reading her book, even on the steps of the escalator. My god she loved that book.

How wonderfully refreshing in this dumbed-down age of look down not up communication, when much of humanity seems consumed by the need to fence themselves off from the world, to see one so young being so enchanted by that magical, traditional, god-sent gift of a book. Perhaps we should all take a leaf out of it.

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  • Wouldn’t it be wonderful??? We try to instill a love of reading in children, but the pleasure is, at some point, co-opted by the immediacy of e-response. “I want it and I want it NOW” has never been more evident.

    Still, you notice that books and reading materials still sell in airports. There are some great used book stores in airports (Milwaukee (MKE) and Raleigh-Durham (RDU)) come to mind. Convenience retailers still carry both hard and soft cover books, and there still are a few dedicated bookstores, like Books and Books in Miami, Barbara’s Books (by Hudson) at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and others (even if a great deal of the store space is dedicated to lines other than printed reading materials). Are transit facilities some of the last vestiges of paper? I hope not (but I confess, I have a Nook, so most of my reading is now e-reading, because, yes, if I want a book, I go to the website, click, pay and read…I like the immediacy too).