Saturday, January 30, 2016

Library and Bookstore Conversations

I love the random conversations that occasionally spontaneously arise in bookstores or libraries. Just the other day, a man at the self-service checkout machine next to mine at my local library (sometimes I use the self-service if the librarians at the front desk are busy) looked over at the books I was checking out, and enthusiastically exclaimed, “Oh, you are going to read ‘A Manual for Cleaning Women’! I just came from a reading by the editor of that book, Stephen Emerson, who is a friend of mine. You are going to love the book!” We exchanged a few more sentences, and I left the library feeling that small but enjoyable glow of connection around shared book conversations, long or brief as they may be. Over the years I have had several of these brief, spontaneous conversations with other patrons of the library, other customers in bookstores, and with librarians and booksellers. There is always that same spark of connection. The topics don’t have to be profound; once a woman next to me at the bookshelves in a bookstore and I started laughing at the same time, because we were both in that familiar, identical, and parallel crouch with our heads turned sideways, reading the titles of books on the lower shelves. We had a chuckle and a brief conversation about this common bookstore posture, just one of those little experiences shared by frequent bookstore habitu├ęs. These brief book-and-reading-related conversations definitely brighten a booklover’s day!

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