Books, Thoughts

Eulogy to Social Reading IRL

girls reading books on the subwayI just had a thought. A sad thought. With ebooks and audiobooks becoming more mainstream, how will we know what books other people are into?

How many times have I seen someone reading a book, or has someone seen me, and made a connection over it? Whether it’s a connection over a mutually liked book, or maybe a question about whether the book is any good.

Without the obvious cover in hand, we won’t know whether someone is engrossed in The Hunger Games, or just checking their email. That dude with the white cord trailing from his ears may be jamming to Usher, or he might be listening to the new bestseller you’ve been curious about. We have no way of knowing.

In general, I’m a fan of new media. But the loss of this social aspect of reading is just a little saddening. Sure, I may know what my friends on Facebook at Twitter are reading, but people we meet IRL? Not so much.

girls with ipods on the subway
“Four years ago, I was breaking in my cover, talking tech to random people. So I was in a laundromat in Adams Morgan, and Natasha was reading “Snow Crash” While she waited for her whites. We dated a little over a year, and I wish I hadn’t liked that book so much.” – Auggie Anderson, Covert Affairs


4 thoughts on “Eulogy to Social Reading IRL”

  1. I’m with you here, it is sad… we still got the “leave a book you really liked on a bench with a note for the next reader” move… but nothing compares to the pleasure of peeking each others book covers

  2. I didn’t think of it that way. Personally, I am not the type to talk to someone who is reading a book because I think it is rude to interrupt them, but I can see how a lot of friendships could be missed by something as simple as not being able to see what someone is reading.
    At the same time, there are websites such as Good Reads that show what you are currently reading and you can have friends on there. It might be more of a case that online friends turn into “real life” friends based on how society is progressing.

    1. @vanillahearts62 No I wouldn’t interrupt someone reading either :-). But if they make eye contact with me, I don’t mind asking someone about what they’re reading. Or if I see them carrying a book, or it’s sitting on their desk or something. And I don’t mind people asking me either. However, I find myself annoyed when people start talking to me when I’m listening to an audio book. Double standard, I know 🙂

      I have had lovely conversations with random people about books. I’m wondering if that will completely die out, or if it will take on new forms in the future – as you pointed out with the social media reading lists and apps that are becoming more prevalent.

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