A Creative Connector
When Uli Beutter Cohen moved to New York City in 2013, a friend told her: “Don’t ask what New York can do for you. Find out what you can give to New York.” This advice has informed her life in the city ever since.
Over and over again, she couldn’t help but notice how many people were reading printed books on the subway. Curious about what they were reading and why, she decided to ask them and record their answers on her Instagram @SubwayBookReview (48K followers and growing). Here she reveals what’s she learned about people and their reading habits along the way, and what she does when she’s not riding the G train talking to strangers.
How do people respond when you ask them to be involved?
The majority of people I ask for an interview say yes. Younger people are usually immediately excited to talk to me – they’re more used to sharing their life. The older generation is a bit more suspicious and wants to know more about the project before they decide to get their picture taken. Funny enough, I found that it hugely depends on my own mood. If I’m relaxed and open, people generally decide it’s a good idea to talk to me.
What have you learned about readers on the subway and people more generally through this project?
I’ve learned that talking to strangers is the best because we’re actually not that strange to each other. We have so much more in common than we tend to think. And I’ve learned that the G train is actually a very fun train to ride. Despite the bad rep it gets, it’s my favorite.
What do you do professionally when you aren’t chatting books on the subway?
I work for a startup called Everbliss. We’re launching an app later this month that matches and connects people with therapists and coaches. We’re all about making personal and professional development something that’s easy—and maybe even fun—to bring into your life.
What book has changed your life?
There have been a few so far. In 2012, it was Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, cheesy because it was right before I decided to move, but true! In 2013 it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings did. And then there are storytellers like Miranda July who remind me throughout that I need to do my thing and not be shy about it.
Can you share 3 bookish or simply great places you love in the city
– Buvette is great with a book (or a well-read friend) and a glass of wine.
– Elizabeth Street Garden is perfect for reading outside on a nice day.
– And of course, I highly recommend reading on the subway.