When I moved to New York, one of the first things that struck me was that everywhere I looked, people were reading books.
Of course this is by no means unique to New York City, but in relation to other places I'd lived, the sheer density and interconnectedness of life here made people's reading habits more apparent to me than ever before.
Having spent most of my life in West Coast towns where cars are the dominant mode of transportation, I wasn't accustomed to the experience of being crammed into a crowded subway train, surrounded by a random assortment of people, all deeply immersed in a wildly diverse selection of books.
The ubiquitous piles of totally-great-but-for-some-reason-unwanted books on the sidewalk were also a source of giddy disbelief, and occasionally I still have to fight the urge to pick up a book that I already own, simply because it's so good and I can't believe it's just sitting there, free for the taking.
I've enjoyed the experience of eating lunch at the counter of a Brooklyn diner and noticing that the person to my left was plowing through a shockingly explicit "romance" novel, while the person to my right was a world-renowned author, making corrections to the galleys of his upcoming novel.
And at the risk of committing a "humblebrag," I'll mention that New York is the only place where I've sat down at a restaurant with my wife just in time to hear the guy at the adjacent table launch into an eloquent, knowledgeable, and utterly devastating excoriation of one of my own books.
When Françoise Mouly, the art editor at The New Yorker, invited me to submit some sketches for the cover of their "Books" issue in 2004, I realized I'd been collecting ideas on that topic in my mind already, and a handful of them have made it onto the magazine's cover over the years.
See some of Adrian's beautiful work (hit "Full Screen" in the right corner to read the detailed comic strips):
Copyright Adrian Tomine, 2012. Images courtesy of Drawn & Quarterly.