Mostly I’m the poster child for the socially awkward. I despise parties and loathe small talk. Introduce books into the equation and something akin to a miracle happens. I can and do approach strangers when they are reading books. Curiosity overcomes fear and the book nerd wins out over the social dork. I’m not subtle about it either.
Case in point: Today my husband and I went hiking with the dogs on Arabia Mountain. In a covert seating area, I spotted a guy sprawled on a wooden swing reading a book. I barely noticed the guy himself, but I saw the book. I had to know what he was reading. I had no ulterior motive. I wasn’t looking for some excuse to talk to this stranger. In fact, in any other circumstance, I would have ignored him, if I had even noticed him at all. But, he was READING a BOOK! So, social phobias aside, I went brazenly up to him and asked what he was reading.
The book was [simpleazon-link asin=”1883319684″ locale=”us”]Breaking the Death Habit : The Science of Everlasting Life[/simpleazon-link] by Leonard Orr. What followed was a 5 minute discussion of Indian mystics, immortals, meditations and deep breathing exercise. I offered no opinion or judgement. I was simply fascinated that in the middle of the woods, I discovered a reader looking for enlightenment. If I hadn’t asked, I would have missed a memorable and enriching encounter.
I miss literary discussions. Such lively debates were the life-blood of my undergraduate experience. To this day, I only fully engage in conversations about literature. Nothing else grabs my attention. Not to mention, literature offers a somewhat neutral place to discuss religion, politics and other tricky topics. As long as the topics are discussed in relation to the book, the pages act as a buffer. In other words, the reader I met didn’t regale me with his personal opinions on the philosophy being put forth in the book he was reading. He stated the philosophy of the book, and as such, there was no need to be put off. It was an exploration, and I appreciated the fact that he was a thinking person. Another book nerd like myself.
Book nerd encounters are more rare outside of bookstores and libraries, so I cherish them when they happen. It’s an instant kinship. If only for a moment.