Monday, April 27, 2009

Social Pariahs

Ah, the joy of reading in public. Unfortunately, reading in public is treated kind of like masturbating in public. If someone sees you do it, they are stunned. Some brave souls will talk to you, but the conversation inevitably goes something like, "What are you doing?"

"I'm reading."

"What are you reading?"

"A book." You show them the title. Now you would think that the solitary act of reading, would clue people in that you aren't looking for a conversation. Not so. Normally, the inquisitive chap will continue to talk to you. This often happens at bus stops and laundry mats. I don't know why.

Seeing people read a book should not be that uncommon of a sight. It seems like it is, though. And the larger the book's page count, the greater the chance someone is going to think you are reading it for college or some other institute of learning.

And then there are the people who proudly tell you they either don't read or can't remember the last time they picked up a book. I imagine this is supposed to be impressive. "Look at me! I'm ignorant!"

And watch their reaction when you tell them you are reading for ... wait for it ... pleasure. That will really make you feel like a social pariah. How dare you? Are you molesting children, too?

Some books are perfectly acceptable to read in public. Anything with Harry Potter (which I've never read) comes to mind. Those vampire books for teen girls are pretty safe, too. Try reading Necessary Illusions or some Beeline smut novel and see what happens, though. People take your boldness as a personal attack and they are more than happy to let you know it.

Yet they remain curious.

I've done a lot of reading in public. Most all of it has been for pleasure. I've noticed that magazines don't earn the same reaction (photos make it seem okay in the average joe's eyes) as books, and graphic novels really puzzle people. Such is the nature of the beast, I guess. When far too many people have never stepped foot inside a book store, you have to expect such things. There's not much we can do about it, we reading elite.

Of course, you could always put on headphones, too, but that starts a whole other conversation ...

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