Stock Readers: A Romp Through Stock Images of Readers and Writers

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

One of my tasks at Book Riot is to help create the visual pieces that are shared on social media. Amanda and I both spend a long time making sure we aren’t using the same white people in every post because it’s not reflective of reality and because it’s straight-up boring. Finding those images of people of color reading is difficult, but she and I keep a lot of communication open to share the solid ones we’ve found so that we get them into our personal libraries for use.

But perhaps my favorite aspect of this part of the job is stumbling across stock images that make me wonder what the hell is going on. And there’s a surprising amount of WTH in stock images of readers and books. I thought it’d be fun to offer up some of the best I’ve come across, give ’em some back stories, and then let you all create the story behind one of the images, too. None of these images have been altered — this is how they appear in the catalog.

Ready? Let’s play Stock Stories.


stock 2

Let’s hope the title of the textbook he’s got is How to Track Down Suspects When You’ve Been Robbed.


stock 11

The kid is really annoyed he has to hold dad’s water cup. Really annoyed.


And lo, it is word that you, animals of all shapes and colors, are to be ruled by me, giant child.


Pages spread. Chairs tossed. Candles lit. It’s a sexy date night with a book.


Great ideas can come from not-so-great ideas.


Why limit reading-by-osmosis to slipping the book under your pillow at night?


The news really stinks.


You’re supposed to read outside the box for a reason. It’s too dark to see.


I find taking my typewriter out to the train tracks to be a frustrating writing experience as well. So noisy.


stock 7

I’m tempted to go for a “Just horsing around” here but I’m REALLY distracted by the belt here.


Now, I saved the best one for last. Give me your best backstory for this one: