General · Reading

Let’s talk about books. Please.

You probably think my request is weird. If I wanted to talk about books, why not hit up Goodreads, some other online community, or maybe even one of the many book blogs out there? That is true of course; the Internet has made it so much easier to discuss almost any book under the sun, no matter how obscure. Yet… it does not replace the feeling of gushing over (or even bashing) a book in person.

This is so unbelievably true. (Source: Fiction and Flowers)
This is so unbelievably true.
(Source: Fiction and Flowers)

You know what I’m talking about. You and someone else find out you’re reading/you’ve read the same book, and excitement ensues. I don’t care if that other person is a stranger, you will be itching to bound over and talk to them if you find them buried in a book you’ve already read. You will be eager to know what they think of it. You will feel happy if they share your feelings, good or bad, and you most definitely will feel sad if they disagree, yet it will be accompanied with a thrill. Thinking maybe you can show them the book from a different perspective, you will want to try to change their mind. And even if silence falls between the two of you, you (or them) will find a way to puncture it again with an afterthought regarding the book. And you’re probably nodding along to everything I’ve said in this paragraph.

I had this once. I remember swapping books with my friends, waiting impatiently for them to finish so I would know what they thought of it, eyes shining, feeling totally in my element. There’s just something different about being there with the person, seeing their reactions and emotions playing across their face. Being very expressive about books myself, I love it when I’m able to witness it in others.

Then I moved and I swear… I have never before lived within a community that thought so little of books. I have a huge bookcase in my room, but it is extremely rare for anyone who comes in to admire them. If they say anything, it’s more along the lines of, “You spend way too much money on books”, “How do you find the time to read?” or even “Your carpenter did a fabulous job. Could you give me his number? I’d like some shelves for my kitchen.”

Public transport should’ve been my salvation, right? I mean… theoretically, many people take advantage of their commute to read. I have used public transportation almost everyday for almost seven years, and the number of “literary encounters” I’ve had amount to a measly one. Yes, ONE. I yearn to find someone other than me reading book that isn’t academic or course-related, or for someone to take notice of the books I almost always have with me, but nope. Once I came across a girl at a bus stop holding a well-worn copy of The Fault in Our Stars. The “book patron” in me felt indignant about the state of the book, but what I was really thinking is, “Oh please please PLEASE let us board the same bus so I can talk to her about it!” Unfortunately, we didn’t. I won’t lie, I felt pretty bummed about it.

In my desperation I’ve sort of befriended my sister’s best friend, a girl eight years younger than me who – very much unlike my sister – does love reading. I’m embarrassed to say that I try to hog some of her attention when she visits, but it makes me so unbelievably happy to be able to discuss books with her or show off my new purchases.

So I will take this chance to make an open plea – if you see someone reading a book, even it is one you haven’t read, talk to them about it. Chances are, like me, they’d be welcoming of a little bookish chat, and you never know, you could walk away with a book recommendation and quite possibly a new friend.

Which do you prefer – online or personal discussions? Have you ever talked to a total stranger about books?

39 thoughts on “Let’s talk about books. Please.

  1. When talking about books I am happy with either online or personal conversations. But, no, I’ve never talked to a stranger about a book they were reading before.

      1. Not often in settings where I interact with strangers these days (where books might be present beyond those hauled around with toddlers). But, if I see an opportunity, I’ll take it and let you know how it goes.

  2. It must be so difficult not to be surrounded by other book lovers! I agree, it’s so wonderful to discuss whatever book you’re reading or have read with someone else – even better in person than online, but one takes what one can get, right?

    I recently recommended the book I’m reading to my neighbor and I haven’t seen her since so I’m dying to know if she’s started it so we can discuss it.

    p.s. love the story about you and the girl reading The Fault in Our Stars – you should have followed her, haha! 🙂

    1. Agreed. That’s why I’m grateful for places like Goodreads and WordPress where I can talk to people about books. 🙂

      Oh I know the feeling of waiting to hear what someone thought of a book you recommended! I get so anxious, haha.

      I considered it! But I was just getting home from work and was feeling way too exhausted and in need of flopping on my bed!

  3. That’s one thing I love about going to my book club–the chance to discuss books with people who are similarly enthralled with reading. It’s about the only thing that can get this introvert out socializing!

    1. I need to see if I can find a local book club in my town. I know there are some online ones, but maybe those introverts can be coaxed into meeting in person too. 😉

  4. I feel you. I have a group of friends that pretty much every one of them either doesn’t read books or doesn’t read fiction, and that makes my head want to explode. On them. I like discussing good books in any format.

    1. Do they look at you funny when you read too? I get so many funny looks, and some even tell me, “Honestly, have you got nothing better to do?” At which point I start questioning why we’re even friends.

      1. I haven’t actually read in front of them. Several of them read and read a lot, but it’s a lot of non-fiction, so I’m not looked at funny for reading, but we have nothing in common. That’s the bizarre part: we both read a ton, but we have nothing to say because our libraries are so vastly different.

        1. Awww… that’s almost as bad as being with non-reading friends. But… at least your non-fiction friends probably recognize the joy of going to bookshops!

        2. Now that part is true. I just love the smell of a Barnes and Noble. And i think I cried when border’s closed…mostly because I had THEIR member card, not B&N. Darn it. Oh well.
          Speaking of books, is Daniel K still working on stuff? I liked his work.

        3. It’s always a sad thing when a bookstore shuts its doors. 😦

          It’s funny you should ask, because right now, I’m juggling between replying to comments here and editing the sequel to The Dream Sanctum. 😉

  5. I’ve started an in-person chat about books a few times, but it’s usually along the lines of “Oh, I love that book!” and them going “Yeah, me too!” And then me going “… well okay, bye.” I’m not so good with the small talk, lol. But you’re right, even a little connection like that with another book lover is wonderful 🙂

  6. I have so few in-person book chats. I keep trying to get friends to read books with me so we can discuss them, but my plans always peter out. If you start a book club on this blog, though, sign me up!

  7. I am notorious for asking strangers “what are you reading?” My primary Doctor and I share book suggestions. In fact it’s part of our arrangement. I’m supposed to bring in titles or authors because I have more time to read than he does. But he’ll throw me a suggestion or two now and again that I haven’t heard of or haven’t gotten to yet.

    1. That sounds like such a great relationship to have with your doctor! I love dishing out recommendations, but very few people seem to be interested in them around me. =[

  8. I prefer both … I am usually curious to see what the masses have to say about a title whether it’s on Goodreads or Amazon. But I love to talk about books in person; see reactions even if it means striking up conversations with complete strangers in airports, on planes, or at the bookstore. Thankfully, I have a wonderfully bookish circle of friends. I hope you find some more book-lovers near you. ~Gail

    1. Same here. Before I buy any books, I do check out what people have to say about it, just to get a general idea. 🙂 Hang on to those friends of yours! And thank you – I hope I do too.

  9. I don’t think I’ve had book chats with strangers, but I will admit I get very happy when I discover that a friend of mine is into the same book I’m into. It is a delightful moment.

    1. Seems to be a common thing among book lovers! When I get a new friend on Goodreads, I compare our books to see how our reading tastes match, and it’s always a delight when I find we that we’ve given one book or the other the same rating!

  10. I formed a book club at my office just so that I can have an opportunity to discuss and share about the books that move me. This was an awesome post.

  11. You’re not the only one surrounded by a bunch of people who don’t read books, trust me! I see more readers here in Portland, walking around with books and even reading at the bar. But throughout my adult life, I have found that very few people read anything…ever. Or if they do, it’s only a couple of books each year. They say they don’t have time, yet they DO have time for their TV shows. To each their own! : )

    I prefer to discuss books online or face to face when I’m hanging out with people. I like to be alone when I am reading, so I actually get annoyed when someone interrupts my time. As such, I give people space to enjoy their books.

    1. Oh yeah, I know what you mean about TV shows. The people I know have no problem keeping up with ten shows at a time, and invest themselves emotionally in these shows for months and years, but they can’t stand to read a book that, at most, will take them a month to get through. It honestly baffles me.

      I’m like you when it comes to being interrupted… but I make an exception when someone wants to talk to me about books. 😉 It’s when they want to talk to me about trivial things that I’m bothered!

  12. I love the quote/saying in that photo frame! I’ve always been pretty lucky in that I’ve always had a least one friend surrounding me that loves to read. No where near as much as I love to read, but enough that I have been able to chat books with them. I’ve never had a conversation with a stranger about a book though!

    1. Isn’t it beautiful? I want to have it framed too! Oh, you’re lucky to have those friends! Sadly my friends who do like to read are a 4-hours plane ride away from where I live. It’d be one expensive book chat!

      I think you should try it, and maybe write a post about it. I’d love to read about your experience. 😉

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