Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about talking to strangers…
We were all warned as children to 'never talk to strangers', but how do you feel about book-talk with random people? When you see people reading, do you ask what it is? Do you talk to people in the book store or the library? Why or why not? What do you do if people talk to you?
Even as a book-mad librarian, I am shy about asking people what they are reading - especially at the library, where my own fanaticism about privacy issues has to override my curiosity.
("Madam Librarian," says the detective, "was the shoplifting suspect reading anything suspicious?" "I may not divulge that information without a subpoena," says Madam Librarian, hoping that the Wally Cox lookalike reading The Borrowers was not guilty of anything more serious than a desire to revisit childhood delights.)
Even in bookstores, even in the cafes of bookstores, I do not ask questions about peoples' books, even if the books are arranged artfully to attract notice. ("Look at me, I'm reading Nietzsche.") I even resist the urge to talk about the pile of knitting books in front of the woman at the next table with Noro peeking out of her tote bag.
However, I do find myself in situations in bookstores that force me to talk to strangers. In fact, I can not be in a bookstore without being approached by someone who asks "do you work here?" - even if it's the dead of winter, I'm swaddled in a winter coat and scarf and mittens, and I'm carrying my purse. Somehow, my aura must announce that I'm a book person. It's both comical and complimentary. I can't control my aura, but I can do my best to amass some good karma.
"No," I say, "but maybe I can help..." And, usually, I can.