Do you like to talk about books?

Posted October 4, 2015 by Lory in discussions / 37 Comments


I’m finding a somewhat disturbing contradiction in my attitude here. While I love sharing my thoughts about books on my blog, and chatting online in comments and discussions, I’m not so enamored of talking about books in real life. When I’m reading a book and someone comes up and asks me “What’s that about?” or “Is it good?” I feel a distinct twinge of annoyance and a reluctance to divulge any information at all.

Why is this?

If I’m immersed in a book, I’m not usually ready to drop everything and talk critically or analytically about it. It takes some time and distance for me to do that, so just being asked to spontaneously give my opinion doesn’t work. The situation would be different if I were in a book club or another setting where I could expect and prepare for some discussion. But being asked to talk about my reading without that preparation feels like an invasion of my privacy. I just want to be left alone with my book. Is that unreasonable?

Another problem I have is that when someone asks me for book recommendations, I totally blank out. Just the other day someone asked me if I’d read anything good lately, which of course I have, but I could not think of a single thing to tell her. After we parted I thought of the perfect book for her, but it was too late. Perhaps I should practice making mental lists of my favorite books!

What about you? Do you like to chat spontaneously with friends or strangers about your current reads?

Linked in the Book Blogger Discussion Challenge hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight

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37 responses to “Do you like to talk about books?

  1. I hate servers asking me what I’m reading in restaurants. “What’s that about?” is annoying too especially if I just started it. Since I’m usually reading fantasy or sci-fi the answer may scare people too.

    • Yes, I hate it when the person asking is just making small talk and not really interested — a server in a restaurant doesn’t have time to hear all about my esoteric book thoughts.

  2. I absolutely hate it when strangers approach me and ask me what I’m reading and what it’s about. That said, I don’t mind at all talking with friends about what I’m currently reading. I work in a bookstore, so I’m used to that — and really enjoy it. I do blank out when asked for recommendations when I’m not at work — that’s actually why I started my blog. I just want to tell people to take a look at my blog!

    • In a bookstore it would make sense to talk about books! It’s when I’m in a dentist’s office or such that I find it a bit jarring.

  3. I don’t mind when people ask me about what I’m reading – although sometimes I do get a bit self-conscious if it’s something werewolfish, vampirish … but I just need to get over that. I love reading and read everything and don’t mind discussing books – but sadly, I don’t really talk much about them “offline.”

    • I definitely discuss books more online than I ever did “offline.” Which is a good thing, but somewhat odd.

  4. Generally, I’ve come to realize that being asked about books is simply a conversation starter. I’ve gone off on a ramble many many times only to realize that the person just wasn’t interested — I probably should be paying better attention 🙂 There are a few close people who do want book recs … very few, very rare and I know them pretty well to give a good rec.

    • I should perhaps have clarified I’m not talking about close family and friends. With them I’m fine — but with people I don’t know so well I feel very awkward. Part of it is really not knowing if they’re truly interested.

  5. I don’t like it when strangers want to discuss what I’m reading, especially when it’s obviously just a conversation starter. I read a lot in restaurants and servers will ask what I’m reading, or for recommendations and I will even write things down for them, but they never tell me if they’ve gotten the book or tried it or anything and when I ask they never have. I wish they’d just let me read and not try to be friendly.

    • That must be so annoying! It also reminds me of that part in Emma where Harriet wants Robert Martin to read some silly book and when he doesn’t, Emma persuades her (Harriet) that he’s not worth her time…this “reading as conversation starter” has been going on for a long time it seems.

  6. Another very interesting post!

    I generally love to talks about books so I usually do not mind folks asking me about what I am reading. Since I am usually trying to formulate thoughts about books that I am reading this sometimes gives me a chance to organize these thoughts. Sometimes my answer is actually a preview of my blog post on a book.

    Asking about book recommendations does sometime put me on the spot. I also sometimes think about suggestions after a conversation is over.

    • I admire you for being able to verbally articulate and organize your thoughts about books. Writing is still easier for me than talking.

      • I think this is the case with me overall. I mean, yes, I can and do carry on conversations for hours with people I’m close to, but to analyze and plan, I always need to pull out pen and paper; I can’t do it verbally.

  7. I totally relate to everything in this post! On my blog I have loads to say about books, but if anyone asks me even a simple question like ‘what have you been reading lately?’ my mind goes completely blank and I can’t even remember what I’ve read. It just feels like you’re under pressure, and a lot of the time with non-readers I feel like they’re just making conversation because they know I like reading and aren’t actually interested anyway. And it is definitely annoying if people start questioning you while you’re reading! Great post!

  8. I hate it when people (for instance at work) ask me to recommend books to them. I know they usually have in mind the latest paperback bestsellers which are generally not the books I read. Most of the books I read are older things, often out of print, or classics. I do sometimes find it awkward to talk to people about books when they aren’t people whose bookish enthusiasms I already know and understand.

    • Yes, it’s hard for me to talk to people about books when I don’t have a sense of their reading “universe.” And I’m bad about keeping up with new releases. I wouldn’t have anything to say in a discussion of current paperback bestsellers!

  9. I actually enjoy talking about books in real life, even to strangers. It takes more than that to annoy me, really.

    I read in public, too, however people leave me alone. Even if they ask questions, I’d just say “I am still on the first few chapters, so not much going on yet.”

    Haha, maybe it’s just me. I am now not that young anymore, I don’t get annoyed easily 😀

  10. sometimes, i do tend to blank when people ask about good reads sometimes even on my favorites, i think its because its unexpected. as far as talking to people about books, i dont come across that often

  11. Oh God, I go mad with joy when people ask me for book recommendations. It’s one of my favorite, favorite things. If I can’t think of suitable books straight away, I’ll usually email the person later with a list of ideas. Telling people what to read is truly one of my favorite things in this life, whether it’s online or in person.

  12. I like talking about books with whoever wants to listen (and even if I know they are just asking to be polite). But like you, I often draw a blank when people ask me for recommendations. I started a book recommendations section in my company’s newsletter a few months ago. That way, I have a few weeks to come up with something that hopefully someone is interested in reading… 😉

  13. Blanking out when someone asks you what you’re reading or to recommend a good book? That totally happens to me! It’s one of the reasons I started blogging; I thought it’d help me remember books and titles better…it’s so embarrassing when people know you read a lot of books, but get all tongue-tied and incoherent when asked about them. 🙂

  14. I wonder if it’s also the people asking – fellow bloggers are readers, same with book clubs, whereas often otherwise the question ‘what are you reading?’ is just for small talk. Bloggers are more likely to ‘get’ whatever you say etc – and it’s much easier to talk about specifics.

    • You’re right, I know that fellow book bloggers really are interested when they ask that question. It makes a big difference.

  15. I’m that annoying person who, once I start talking about books, I just won’t stop. So, yeah, I’l talk to anyone about books at any time!

    • I don’t find it annoying, you can come talk to me any time! (Except when I’m actually reading a book.)

  16. I enjoy talking about the books I’ve read, especially books I’ve loved. Sometimes I’m guilty of boring people, but mostly I try to limit the conversations to people who appear to have some interest. Luckily, we are an extended family of readers, who give and lend books and talk about them fairly often.

    • Shyness about boring people is one reason for my reluctance. It’s great that you have such a bookish extended family to talk to.

    • I loved River City Reading’s idea of a “Recommendation Starter Pack” this month. That would give me a manageable set of titles to remember.