Let’s talk about: Talking about books

What do you do when you overhear people talking about books in public?  Do you jump in or let them be?  I always wish I could jump in, but I am awkward, introverted, and incredibly anxious, so it never happens.  But it just so happened that I was on public transit (which is so gross here and I hate it but it’s the easiest way to get to Manhattan from New Jersey) and these two strangers behind me introduced themselves to each other and proceeded to talk about books right behind me for like an hour.

They were going back and forth for a little while and I felt like such a creeper, but I kept tuning them out and then back in as they discussed their reading habits and favorite books.  When we started getting close to Newark, one of the women brought up Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event.  I really wanted to jump in at that point because I loved that book.  I love Judy Blume in general, actually, and this conversation was one I really wanted to participate in.

And then one of the women said, “Judy Blume? I love her!  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was one of my favorites when I was little!”  Um.  Excuse me.  That book is not by the great Judy Blume.  That book is by Judith Viorst.  Unfortunately, you can’t just jump into a conversation screaming about books.  It doesn’t matter how much you want to correct someone.

They went on to talk more about Judy Blume’s books and how someone’s sister had really loved Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret but somehow, neither of them had read it.  Maybe it’s because I’m an adult that still reads YA, but I cannot imagine going through life without reading Judy Blume’s classic young adult books.  Even if you don’t love them, they’re like a rite of passage.

But let’s step away from Judy Blume.  The real heresy is coming up next.  One of these women was a librarian.  I just about spun around in my chair at that moment because I love libraries and I wanted to be a librarian for years, but various high school and college advisors convinced me not to.  But then she said that she doesn’t read.

A librarian that doesn’t read.

I get it.  Not everybody has a schedule that permits as much reading as mine does.  Not everybody prioritizes reading over a social life like I do.  But for a librarian to flat-out admit that she doesn’t read?  I was floored.  How does she do her job?

But I didn’t say anything.  I just sat there stewing in my train seat, hoping that one or both of these women would just get off the train already before I snapped and said something I’d regret.

So, questions, if you’d like to discuss:

  • Do you jump into conversations with strangers about books?
  • Have you ever met a librarian that doesn’t like to read?
  • Do you ever want to correct people who attribute books to the wrong author?
  • Am I just crazy?

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