When I’m Reading In Public

Here’s something I’ve been working on for a long time: Spending time out in public by myself. I don’t mean a grocery store run or a Starbucks drive-thru, I mean taking myself out to a restaurant, a coffee shop, or even the park. I’ve actively taken this on in the last few months, and it’s been really nice. I’ve been notorious for spending Friday evenings after work through Monday mornings in my room by myself, lounging in my bed binging on Netflix. Before you knew it the weekend would be over, I wouldn’t have read a lot, I wouldn’t have accomplished anything, and would end up spending most of my Sunday evening feeling gross and lonely and lethargic and supremely nervous for the upcoming week. 

So here’s where reading has been my saving grace- I have slowly but surely learned that I can be antisocial but also spend some quality time doing the thing I love in the process. This has led to me actively spending time outside my house- in my backyard, the diner near my old place, going to the several local coffee shops, and visiting the occasional bookstore. Ever since I’ve moved out to my new place, where I don’t have a kitchen to cook in, I’ve been frequenting the restaurants and cafes nearby, so dinner, drink, and book is the thing I look forward to every evening. However, here’s some things I’ve noticed that seem to happen a lot and I don’t really care for them, so I thought I’d share with you guys to see if these have happened to you as well: 

People saying: “Are you reading?”, “Oh hey, you’re reading a book!”

You don’t have to acknowledge that I’m reading a book. I in fact, am fully aware that I’m reading one. Your observations skills are on point. 

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People sitting next to me on public transport that see I’m listening to an audiobook.

If you see me on public transport with earphones on, I’m probably listening to an audiobook, and I definitely don’t want to hear about how audiobooks aren’t real books, because I will fight you. This is not a theory you want to test. 

Servers/bartenders checking in on me every two minutes because I’m seated alone at the restaurant.

If you’re the server or the bartender, and you can see there’s this giant thing in front of my face and all of my attention is being directed towards it, please don’t keep asking me if I need anything just because I’ve been nursing the one drink for more than 20 minutes or my food hasn’t arrived. I’ve actively selected your business because it’s relatively quiet and isn’t bustling with activity, and your tip certainly doesn’t depend on how many times you ask me if I like my drink or my food. I will not resent you for even just leaving my food or drink in front of me without saying a word. In fact, that is greatly appreciated. 

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Asking for book recommendations. 

Don’t ask me for book recommendations if you’re not prepared to be flooded with them. People that know me have made that mistake and it hasn’t done them any good. Also be prepared that I will be asking you a bunch of question about your bookish tastes before being able to actually recommend anything. 

“If I could only read one book this year, which one should I read?”

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Wrong question. Since it is unlikely that you have read every book that has ever been published before you asked me that question, it is literally impossible for me to mathematically derive a conclusion as to which one book you should read this year. Seriously, I don’t know how to answer that question. 

This probably paints me as quite the curmudgeon, it’s just that I’ve been asked these so many times, and have gotten into more than one interaction on the bus or the train about the merits of different ways of reading, that sometimes I can’t help but roll my eyes at this stuff. 

Have any of these things happened to you guys? What other weird/annoying things have happened to you when you venture out in public with a book? I’d love to know!

-J