Friday, March 18, 2011

Bookstore/Library Conversations

While sitting here writing my review of The Marsh King's Daughter by Elizabeth Chadwick (coming this weekend!), I got to thinking about my Wednesday night trip to the Grand Haven library. I am fortunate enough to be within 15 minutes of 5 libraries and I like to go to the Grand Haven one because it was completely rebuilt a couple of years back and is absolutely wonderful. While roaming the library mentally cataloging all the titles I'd like to read (and there were many-who knew they had such a great historical fiction selection?), I saw people all over lounging in the chairs reading books. One lady in particular caught my attention because she was in the center part of the library totally engrossed in Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay, a book I read and really liked last year. These are the books the Showtime series is based on although the show has now taken a completely different path than the books. I really wanted to walk over to her and ask if she was a Dexter fan too, if she had read the other 4 novels in the series, and if she preferred the Dexter storyline that was unfolding in the books or in the TV series. I resisted this urge and continued on my way to the section of the library I was heading to.

I am also reminded of last Saturday when I was winding my way through the shelves at Barnes & Noble-grande caramel macchiato in one hand, pen and paper for writing interesting titles in the other. Near the classics display I hear two teenage girls discussing Pride and Prejudice:

Girl 1: "Pride and Prejudice? What is that?"
Girl 2: "Its a love story. Its actually pretty good."
Girl 1: "Well what does prejudice mean?"
Girl 2: "Its when you form an opinion or idea about someone or something without really having a good reason."

I really wanted to walk over and tell them Pride and Prejudice was awesome, that every teenage girl should read it and after they were done they must watch the BBC version of it starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth because there will never be a better Lizzy Bennett and Mr. Darcy than those two. I didn't though. I just kept on with my browsing.

In both of these instances I wanted to do what I do here: spread the book love! For some reason though, my enthusiasm in doing this does not translate into real life. While here in blog land I have no problems having conversations about books, in real life I'm always worried if I approach someone they will think me some kind of stalker type weirdo which will lead to a brief awkward conversation or they will just stare at me like I have an infectious disease and slowly shuffle away. I don't know why I have this fear. Obviously these are other people that like to read. After all they came to the bookstore or library for a reason. I'm wondering if others have the same hang up about approaching strangers in libraries and bookstores. I notice no one ever approaches me in a bookstore/library unless they work there and are asking if I need help. Well, I did run across an older lady in a local UBS about a year ago who seemed to want to make a competition out of who was the more hard core book buyer...... Seriously, we were both carrying lists and she glanced at my two page handwritten list and proceeded to tell me all about how HER list was 15 pages long, single spaced and in 8 pt font. Needless to say, I beat a hasty retreat from that section of the store.

So here are my questions to fellow readers: Are you a bookstore/library conversationalist? If so, do you get mostly positive reactions from those you approach? If not, what keeps you from doing so?

Someday perhaps I will step out of my comfort zone and risk the death stare to tell someone that the book they just put back on the shelf is fantastic and I read it all in one sitting. Or perhaps the specter of wacky list lady will haunt me forever.....


  1. I was actually having a conversation with my boyfriend last night about this same topic. We were in B&N and I kept picking up books that I loved and would say something out loud like "this book was amazing" or to that effect. I don't necessarily go start a conversation with people, but I still try to share my opinions!

  2. I'm pretty much the same, I just can't bring myself to talk to strangers about books in public. Unless I'm feeling unusually sociable or hyper.

    The only time I really ever talk to another customer in a bookstore is if I hear them talking to whoever they're with, and they're trying to find a book / author that I know about. For instance, there were two teenage girls looking around, saying that there's "a hand with candy on it" on the cover, and it turned out to be A Million Little Pieces, so I told them to try self-help. Or if they're looking for the Outlander series, I mention that it's in fiction. Apparently I only feel the need to help people find books, but can't bring myself to chat ABOUT those books, lol.