Literary Conversation Starters

When you read in public, do people often come up to you wanting to discuss your book? It doesn’t always happen to me, but it did tonight while I was at a cafe reading Michael Connelly’s new Harry Bosch, The Black Box (Little, Brown; Nov. 26). It made me remember that the last two times I read a Connelly novel while sitting among people, someone also approached me to say he/she was a fan. I realized that the author and his protagonist are conversation starters among readers.

This past summer, I noticed that if I had Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl with me while doing errands, people would comment on it. So I thought I’d pose a random poll here: Which books/authors spark conversation with strangers when you read in public? Why do you think that is? What’s the most surprising encounter you ever had because of a book?

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Lauren
    October 24, 2012 at 8:15 am

    No one ever asks me. I must look really mean when I read. Or, just like normal.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      October 24, 2012 at 10:28 am

      Yeah, I’d be afraid you’d tell me to get off your lawn.

  • Reply
    Jann
    October 24, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I find that I’m the one who comments on other people’s choice of book. I’m sure that I annoy the heck out of the reader, but I love meeting people, especially when we may have something in common.

    • Reply
      Lauren
      October 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

      You wouldn’t annoy me, I love when people ask! I hope I meet you on a plane some day.

      P.S. This is my main criticism about e-readers. They take away my voyeuristic pleasure of seeing what others are reading.

      • Reply
        Pop Culture Nerd
        October 24, 2012 at 10:36 am

        E-readers don’t take that opportunity away. You could always ask what they’re reading, or if you’re close enough, you could peek. I recently sat next to a man on a plane and could see he was reading Gone Girl on his Kindle. We talked for at least two hours after he showed me what else was in his library—Karin Slaughter, Val McDermid, David Rosenfelt, Crais, and many other crime fic authors. We had almost identical tastes; it was so exciting to meet a reading twin.

        • Reply
          Lauren
          October 24, 2012 at 10:43 am

          See, with my luck I’d be stuck talking about 50 Shades of Grey for an entire ferry ride. I try to peek sometimes, but often title doesn’t even list on some readers. And I don’t know about others, but I often reduce my print size when out in public. Don’t ask, I have no idea.

          And I guess what I’m saying is that ereaders take away my ability to do it on the sly if I don’t feel like talking to someone. Love it when I still see someone with a book and I can just look, enjoy and get on with my own reading. Sometimes a filter before conversation is a good thing.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      October 24, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Which books/authors make you approach other people?

      • Reply
        Lauren
        October 24, 2012 at 10:38 am

        Oh, could be anything:

        A book I’ve read and enjoyed and want to see what reader thinks;
        A book/author I’ve heard about but NOT read and want impression;
        A nifty-looking cover that intrigues me;
        A book that has caused a ‘stir’ in some respect;
        Person could look interesting (man or woman) to talk to;
        Just feel like chatting (yeah, this one is rare). 🙂

        You?

  • Reply
    Tea Time with Marce
    October 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    My colleagues always ask what i’m reading but in public I think it has been me, it has usually been a hyped book on the blogosphere that I haven’t read. eg Kite Runner.

    I love that you had a 2 hour conversation with another crime fan, that is great.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      October 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

      I could not believe how identical our reading lists were. He had read books by renegade crime fic authors who aren’t widely known so his knowledge of the genre was deep. Our conversation went along the lines of, “No way! You’ve read that?” “Yes, it’s fantastic!” “I know! It’s one of my favorites!” “Get outta here!” And repeat.

  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    October 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I…don’t really read in public. Maybe I should more often. 🙂

    • Reply
      Lauren
      October 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      Whuck?!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      October 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      Um, yeah, I’m not understanding this, either. You don’t read on planes? Are you just pulling our leg?

      • Reply
        jenn aka the picky girl
        October 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

        Well, I’m rarely on a plane. When I am, I definitely read. But I definitely put out a “don’t talk to me” vibe.

        But the rest of the time, I pretty much just read at home. I always have a book just in case, but these days it’s work, home, gym, home.

        • Reply
          Lauren
          October 24, 2012 at 6:14 pm

          Waiting rooms? Early for a meeting? Commute? Cafe? During a boring movie? (just kidding, I’ve only read in a theater before the movie starts).

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