It's World Book Day, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading. And what better way to celebrate it than to help children in need get books they can't afford. The cheeky writers behind the Instagram sensation Hot Dudes Reading, which posts surreptitiously taken photos of handsome men lost in books (not screens) on the New York City subway, are turning cultured ogling into a good cause.
The anonymous authors announced on their Instagram page, which boasts 414,000 followers since the group posted its first photo, on Feb. 1, that it was partnering with First Book, an organization that provides books to children in need. They want to raise $50,000 to provide 20,000 kids in the United States with books by the end of the week. For every $5 donated, two books are given to a child.
Although the account depicts images of men reading in New York City, Hot Dudes Reading is inviting people everywhere to take photos of men reading in their hometown with the hashtag #hotdudesreadingforacause and to ask followers to donate to the cause.
The "tight-knit group of friends" who started the account, according to Flavorwire, said they were “constantly falling in love" on their subway commutes, so they decided to start Hot Dudes Reading for fun. There's a whole genre of artwork that depicts women reading, write Elisabeth Donnelly and Sarah Seltzer in Flavorwire, and Hot Dudes Reading benignly reverses that male gaze and camps up the images with purple prose worthy of Harlequin Romance novels.
"I wonder if this charmer is reading that book instead of watching the movie because he's the old-fashioned type?" reads a typical caption. "Probably. I bet he enjoys his scotch neat, still writes love letters by hand, isn't into online dating, and will never even know I posted this." The caption is hashtagged, "But DM [direct message] me if you do."
This train is full of meh-looking dudes pretending to read big ass books, hoping to be photographed for @hotdudesreading
— velocikatharine (@velocikatharine) March 5, 2015
— Akasha Garnier (@AkashaGarnier) March 3, 2015