Interview with Subway Book Review Founder Uli Beutter Cohen

Recorded on 02/16/2022
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 243

Between the Lines: Stories from the Underground by Uli Beutter Cohen book cover

Have you ever spotted someone reading in a park, coffee shop, or on public transport, and wondered about the story behind it? Who recommended the book? Are they enjoying it? What do the books we read say about our personality, interests, life? How can book trends reveal societal issues or values? In 2013, Uli Beutter Cohen found herself asking these same questions. Armed with a phone and curiosity, she created Subway Book Review, a social media project that documents the book picks of New York City railway-goers. In the eight years since its inception, SBR has expanded into multiple cities, hosted live events, and even opened a pop-up shop in Union Square Station. In 2021, Uli published Between the Lines: Stories from the Underground, a collection of SBR interviews that extend beyond its typical short-form format.

In this special episode, Uli stops by The Authority File to discuss SBR’s genesis and development. She dives into the cultural practice of reading and how it can act as an equalizing force. Remarking on the past decade of major political and social shifts, she shares her observations on how reading trends have reflected and adjusted to the times. Last, Uli speaks on the current rise in book banning, and offers a special shout-out to librarians and their all-important work.

Uli Beutter Cohen headshot
Photo by Bridget Badore

About the guest:

Uli Beutter Cohen is a New York City–based documentarian, artist, and the creator of Subway Book Review. She explores belonging to a time and place through writing and photography. Uli is a sought-after speaker and panelist. Her work has been featured in print, on TV, and online by New York magazine, Esquire, Vogue, Forbes, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, the BBC, and The Guardian, among others. Between the Lines: Stories from the Underground is her first book. Uli lives in Brooklyn.

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