Sat on a packed commuter train, you reach into your bag and slide out your latest paperback with the caution of skeptic picking a magician's card...
...unconsciously your knees go up and your fingers spread, covering the maximum possible space on the front and back cover.
With a final furtive glance at the people around you, you begin to read.
But it's no good. The book in your hands is a burning source of shame. For reasons as ancient and irrational as civilisation itself, you're embarrassed about how your literary choice makes you look to a group of complete strangers.
But what is the cause of this biblio blush?
A multitude of possible reasons for book shame exist, and here we've helpfully rounded them up into ten basic categories.
Be ashamed. Be very ashamed...
Porn Books...Or call it 'Mummy Porn', if you like - doesn't change a thing. You're still getting your rocks off on public transport, which in any other circumstances would lead to ejection or hard jail time.
Books With Film Covers"I actually loved the book way before the film version came out" "Oh really? How come you've got the copy with Leonardo DiCaprio's soppy face plastered all over it then?"
Geek BooksThere's nothing wrong with having an inner geek, it's just that it's normally keep right there - inner. To a stranger with nothing to judge you on besides your paperback, holding a tale of warlocks and dragons in your lap says only one thing: you're a virgin, en route to your mum's house.
Dodgy TitlesYOU know it's an classic tragicomedy of 20th century literature, but does everyone else? Such has been influence of Lolita that its title has become a byword for pedophilia - and therefore not something you'd necessarily want to flash in front of a group of drunks on the 23:04 out of Charing Cross.
The Book Everyone Else Is ReadingFor about two months at the end of 2011, every train carriage in the country was decorated with a line of orange bunting that on closer inspection was actually just 30 copies the same version of One Day, the biggest selling book of the year. Reading isn't particularly cool in the first place, let alone reading the same thing as everyone else.
Anything By Katie PriceNow popular fiction is one thing. No one should be ashamed of reading anything just because it's sold a few copies. But reading the literary equivalent of a vajazzle? Shame on you.
Macho Man BooksAlan Partridge's favourite books: need we say any more?
'Young Adult' FictionA marketing term coined to de-stigmatize reading books written for children, 'young adult' novels are really just for people who can't handle proper grown up stories that don't involve hormonal vampires.
Embarrassing CoversBecause sometimes, you really should judge a book by its cover.