Yesterday I took part in the Urban Librarians Unite Read-In, a movement to promote and support public libraries and also protest budget cuts to public libraries. People read for 15 minutes at a stretch for 24 hours straight. (Yes, all night too, and that's when people can read their favorite porn and erotica.)
This year it was next to City Hall, as the City Council is currently debating the budget. I read from 5 to 5:15 (from Carola Dibbell's new, and first, novel, The Only Ones, which I highly recommend), and hung around for an hour altogether, before and after. The scene around the read-in was almost as fascinating as the readings and readers themselves.
There were two tents, one for the reader (with mike), the one with three rows of seats for anyone who wanted to stay and listen. I was there around the time people were getting off from work. Most people walked right by between the tents. Some looked over to see what was going on, a few paused to read the signs, but some walked on as though they didn't notice a thing out of the ordinary. A few did detour around the audience tent -- they noticed, and didn't want to interfere.
The woman before me read all of Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit, and then something from a book about Beatrix Potter and her garden, to fill out her 15 minutes. The person after me was a father and his three-year-old daughter. The father read from Dr. Seuss's I Wish I Had Duck Feet, and the last word of every fourth (or so) line was supplied by the little girl, who had obviously memorized the whole story. Once she realized that the mike magnified her voice, she could hardly wait to shout her word into the mike. And when we all laughed, she was even happier. I'm sure she will demand a microphone for her next birthday.