Recently while riding in the metro I sat across from an elderly gentleman. He was not very well-dressed, with mismatched clothing and old sneakers. But then he reached into his bag and pulled out a book, and this book was carefully contained in a plastic book cover. The way he handled the book, you would have thought it was his most treasured possession (maybe it was a library book?). And then he began to read.
The Russian Federation actually has an almost 100% literacy rate, and is a few ranks higher than the U.S. (the country of Georgia has 100%! found on Wikipedia...).
At any given moment when I look around in the metro, probably 75% of the passengers are reading. Maybe it's not all classic literature-I see plenty of tabloids around. But, the people all pull out their reading glasses, produce some reading material, and dig in. Even if it's rush hour and we are all squished up against each other, you can feel a little shift in the crowd as someone reaches into his/her bag and pulls out a book.
I only take a book with me if I can spare the weight. Sometimes I have to make do with reading my students' textbooks. But usually I have trouble concentrating, or trouble balancing while hanging on to my purse with one hand and my book with the other. It's a skill I'll have to work on.