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Home » Books & writing

Literary Conversation Starters

Submitted by on October 23, 2012 – 11:20 pm 15 Comments

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?



  • Lauren says:

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

  • Jann says:

    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.

    • Lauren says:

      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.

      • Pop Culture Nerd says:

        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.

        • Lauren says:

          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.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      Which books/authors make you approach other people?

      • Lauren says:

        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). 🙂


  • 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.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      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.

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

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