Friday, February 6, 2009

Reading in Public

One of my favorite things to do during the week is reading Shelf Awareness. I had no knowledge of this wonderful e-letter until I started working at NACS, and now it's part of my daily routine. I think it is once a week that Robert Gray has a column in the Shelf Awareness. Last week he was talking about how great it was to be able to read a book on his iPhone (I think, it was his iPhone) while standing in line at the grocery store. He mentioned that it wasn't conspicuous and he didn't feel pretentious; most people probably just thought he was reading a text message.

He received quite a few responses to that article, so he continued the topic in today's edition. Responders felt that more people needed to be reading in public (then it wouldn't be conspicuous), and they wanted to know why one had to feel pretentious just for reading. I totally agree.

I carry a book, and actual print book, with me almost everywhere. I certainly always have one with me in the car. If I arrive somewhere early, I bust out the book and put the time to good use. I never go to a doctor/dentist/etc appointment without a book. Most days at work, during my lunch hour, I read. And I guess I never stopped to think about whether people thought it was pretentious, and I never really felt conspicuous, but here's why:

I'm extremely shy, and I'm absolutely TERRIBLE at small talk. So, what does a book allow me to do? Hide. I don't strike up conversations with strangers; heck, I don't even make eye contact with them. Granted, I really am reading the book and if I didn't have the book, I'd be staring at my shoes instead - so, it's definitely a good use of time. But, it's also a defense mechanism. I'm alright with that, and I'm going to continue to read in public whenever the mood strikes me!

How about you? Do you read in public?


11 comments:

Corey Wilde February 6, 2009 at 10:09 PM  

All the time. I don't feel conspicuous or pretentious either. I'm busy helping Joe Pike clean his Colt Python or getting John Dortmunder out of another tight squeeze.

Lesa February 7, 2009 at 8:06 AM  

You're darn right I read in public. I've read in line at the bank, sitting on a stool at Home Depot while I wait for my husband (if Home Depot had listened to me, they'd have a bored spouses' lounge), and, in plenty of car dealers and doctors' offices. I'll read anyplace, and proud of it! Conspicuous? Heck, no! I'm a member of the elite minority - someone who reads for enjoyment, and is proud of it.

Patti O February 7, 2009 at 11:21 AM  

I need to start remembering to have a book with me. As crazy as it sounds, I end up lots of places without a book. What I really want to do is carry around my Ellery Queen magazines. I don't read short stories consistantly, but I have friends who are published in EQMM, so I subscribe. I have quite a nice collection of unread EQMMs :), so if I could just remember to carry them with me...

trish February 7, 2009 at 5:03 PM  

I keep a book with me at (almost) all times. I don't feel pretentious reading, but a co-worker who reads at lunch in the breakroom (I happen to read at my desk) gets interrupted all the time by people wanting to talk about what she's reading. Even if people enjoy reading, they don't understand those of us who read at every possible opportunity.

Jen February 7, 2009 at 6:16 PM  

Trish, I read at my desk for exactly the same reason. I would never accomplish any kind of quality reading if I read in the office lunch room. I'm not trying to be anti-social; I just really want to read. I save my socializing for the work hours! ;)

You GO, Lesa! I'm joining YOUR club! :)

Literary Feline February 8, 2009 at 4:52 AM  

I read in public all the time and never even considered that I should feel pretentious. I don't think it should.

Like Trish's coworker, if I read in the breakroom during my lunch, I'm constantly getting interrupted. I can't read at my desk either though because I get interrupted even more so there. The only way I can get peace while reading during my lunch break is to read in my car or find an empty office to hide in for a half hour.

Amy February 8, 2009 at 1:51 PM  

I'm very anti-social and read in public all the time! :) I actually go read in my car at lunch time. I try to be social, but there's only so much reading time in a day and small talk? blech. :)

I think reading in public sends a positive message about literacy.

Chris February 8, 2009 at 1:53 PM  

Yeah, it's showing off to show that you can read *sarcasm*.

I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have a book with me at my daughter's swim classes. The boredom would kill me. I'm also not very good at small talk.

Holley T February 8, 2009 at 10:23 PM  

like you, and in agreement with most of the comments, I always have a book with me..you never know when you'll get a free moment. In fact, I went to the movies today and read while all the pre-movie crap and previews went on..right up until that lights went totally out :)

infiniteshelf February 9, 2009 at 1:17 AM  

Like you and like people who commented here, I always carry at least one book with me, whether it's a reading for school or fun. I will read waiting for the bus, or on the corner of the street waiting for the light to change, or against a wall waiting for my man while he shops for video games!

I'm shy, but mostly I'm just very bad at small talk, too. Still, a book doesn't always provide hiding; I have met many people who saw the book as one more occasion to engage small talk! "So, is that book any good? I was thinking of reading it" "I read that, it's really bad isn't it?"

To me, reading is just reading. I don't do it to appear some way, I just do it because I love it. And I don't think anything of people who read in public, either; mainly, I'll just twist beside them until I can read the title of their book! ;)

Serena February 9, 2009 at 7:45 PM  

have i mentioned that I love to read in public...I love reading while outside...it lends a sense of reality to my travels between the covers.

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