Awkward conversations with non-readers: Part 4

As a comparative literature student and a self-proclaimed book-nerd, I often find myself in situations and conversations with people who do not like to read (at all). These conversation tend to range from very serious to hilarious, and I am sure many of you can relate to these type of situation.  I would like to share and take a look in the world of ‘a reader’, and share one of my stories every week. 

This week’s story outlines a situation that happened a while ago, about a bad very recommendation. 

This might not (at all!) be a surprise.. I spend a lot of time at bookstores. I love to walk along the many bookshelves and add numerous books to my to-read list (which is already way to long). This particular day I was looking at different Star Wars versions of some of Shakespeare’s work. I wondered if I really needed them (Nope! But they looked great and the text appeared to be funny), when one of the barista’s of my favorite coffee place walked in. He waved at me and starts looking around – looking kind of confused. I just decided to put down the Star Wars Shakespeare book (still proud of myself for not buying it!) and walk to the other isles, when I hear the barista ask one of the employees of the bookstore a question:

Barista: I am looking for a birthday gift for my daughter, but I don’t know exactly which book she would like. Can you maybe help me?

Bookstore employee: Yes, sure. Do you know what kind of books she usually reads?

Barista: I guess she is into the usual teenage stuff? She is fourteen years old. I know she loves the once who are kind of scary – with vampires.

As a regular customer at this bookstore, I know all the employees do know a lot about books. However, this one particular guy must not have been that into teenage vampire books or something. Because I see a little fear in his eye, he might not have had a real clue what to exactly answer. Quite frankly, this particular bookstore does sell a lot of books about history and science, maybe that was the bookstore employees genre.

I did get a little curious about his answer, so I faked interest in a book that I had already read and try to overhear what he was saying. After a few minutes, the bookstore employee recovered himself.

Bookstore employee: I think she would like this one by Sophie Kinsella. Also, I have a lot of similar once on that table.

(He pointed to a nearby table full of chick flicks. I could see he was hoping to just sell the barista that Sophie Kinsella book and be done with it)

Bookstore employee: But, I think she would definitely like this particular one.

At that point I was ready to help the poor barista (I saw his daughter once at the coffee place, and I was sure she would not like like chick flicks AT ALL). But I didn’t have to.

Barista: I think she has already read that one. I think I saw her reading it. I am going to take a look at that table. Thanks for helping me!

He walked straight to the table and I followed him.

Me: I think you should try that side of store.

I pointed him to the YA side of the store.

Barista: Thank you! That guy had no clue what he was talking about! Even I know my fourteen year old vampire loving daughter would not like those womanly books.

I told him which books I think she would like and left the bookstore. A few days later I went to get some coffee and he told me his daughter was really happy with the YA books. He told her what happened. She told him she is indeed not a fan of chick flicks.

Did someone ever recommend you a book that you definitely did not like at all? And which one was it?  Love to hear it! 

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Awkward conversations with non-readers: Part 4

I wandered lonely as a cloud

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I recently read Jamaica Kincaid’s novel Lucy. I really liked the novel and also the fact that the poem ‘Daffodils’ by William Wordsworth is mentioned in it  -although the character of Lucy in the novel hates the poem-. I love Wordsworth’s work. So, I thought I might as-well share this particular poem. Also, I would recommend Lucy to anyone who likes to read the cosmopolitan, au pair-narrative kind of literature (in short, the novel is about a teenage girl who moves from the West Indies to the United States to work as an au pair).  

The poem is best known as ‘Daffodils’ but it was officially published as ‘I Wandered lonely as a cloud’. Wordsworth altered the poem multiple times -probably reflecting his own life and mind at that time- , this (final) version was published in 1815.

 I wandered lonely as a Cloud
   That floats on high o'er vales and Hills,
 When all at once I saw a crowd,
   A host, of golden Daffodils;
 Beside the Lake, beneath the trees,
 Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 Continuous as the stars that shine
   And twinkle on the milky way,
 They stretched in never-ending line
   Along the margin of a bay:
 Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
 Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

 The waves beside them danced; but they
   Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
 A Poet could not but be gay
   In such a jocund company:
 I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
 What wealth the show to me had brought:

 For oft when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
 They flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude,
 And then my heart with pleasure fills,
 And dances with the Daffodils.
I wandered lonely as a cloud

5 Fictional characters I would definitely want to know in real-life.

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Sometimes a book is that great, it makes me feel like the characters in it are ‘real’. Like I know them personally. As if these characters are close friends of mine. I am sure this is something many of you can relate to. I also think this is one of those things that determines whether I like a particular book, or not.  These are five of the – many – fictional characters I would love to know in real-life:

1. Sancho Panza – Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes  

This man acts as a squire to Don Quixote. He is loyal, realistic and funny: the perfect sidekick. I would definitely want him as my companion on some weird road trip!

2. Gandalf the Grey – Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien 

I have so many reasons for this one. But mostly just because I think he is the wisest man in literature. I need someone that wise in my life. Just imagine being stressed out about some deadlines when suddenly Gandalf appears, being all wise: “All we need to do decide is what to do with the time that is given to us”. I am sure everything would seem a lot easier after that!

3. Lizzie Bennett – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

To me, she is one of the smartest and strongest women in literature. I think she is a great roll model, especially in her time (if I remember correct the novel is set around the year 1700). I would be proud to have her as a friend!

4. Ron Weasley – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling 

Ron is another great sidekick he is loyal and funny as well. He is also really afraid of spiders, which is a big plus to me. I hate spiders more than anything else and it would be great to have a friend who fears them even more than I do.

5. Lisbeth Salander – Millennium series by Stieg Larsson    

First of all, who doesn’t want to have a female friend who is that good in hacking computers? That would be one of the coolest things! Second, she is cool, strong and fierce. Would not want to get in a fight with her!

I am really curious about the fictional characters you guys would like to know in real life! I am sure I missed a lot of characters who are really worth mentioning! 

5 Fictional characters I would definitely want to know in real-life.

As if a novel had to be about only one thing.

I rFeatured imageecently read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – which I consider to be one of the best novels I have read in while. Also, I would totally recommend this novel to anyone who likes to read about race, immigration, racism and -also, yes!- love. While reading, I stumbled upon a lot of quotes I would like to share. I still have to list them all and I soon will, but I would like to share this one quote in advance. This is so true, yet sometimes so hard to explain. Thanks to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I now have a quote ready when someone ‘pops the question’: 

“Why did people ask “What is it about?” As if a novel had to be about only one thing.” 

As if a novel had to be about only one thing.

AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS WITH NON-READERS: PART 3

As a comparative literature student and a self-proclaimed book-nerd, I often find myself in situations and conversations with people who do not like to read (at all). These conversation tend to range from very serious to hilarious, and I am sure many of you can relate to these type of situation.  I would like to share and take a look in the world of ‘a reader’, and share one of my stories every week. 

This week’s story outlines a situation that I have encountered a few times. 

Occasionally, I ask a non-reader why he or she does not read. Not because I want to persuade people who do not read into reading. I am just genuinely curious about their answers and I will definitely do my best to understand. There are a lot of answers to this question, and most of the time these conversations are pretty fun. Nevertheless, once in a while I encounter someone who appears to be offended by these type of questions. Very Rarely, someone gets REALLY offended. This happened a few weeks ago, while I talked to someone I just met. He told me he did not like to read. So, I asked him why:

(offended undertone)

Collocutor: Why do you ask!? What do you mean by that?

Me: I am just curious. I don’t mean anything with it.

Collocutor: I can just as well ask you why you DO read.

Me: Yes you can, I would be happy to answer that question.

(Ten seconds of silence)

Collocutor: That is not what this is about. And I don’t have to be ashamed that I am not a reader.

Me: Well that is not what I am implying at all. Just curious.

Collocutor: You don’t have to go smart-ass on me, just because I don’t read. I am not less smart than you, I might even be smarter.

I was not stating anything about who is smart or not and I was definitely not rude to him. I was just trying to get into a polite conversation. Also, I was a little sorry I asked, because he seemed to get a little aggressive about it.

Me: I am sorry if that’s what you think I meant, but I was just asking. Didn’t mean anything with it.

Collocutor: Yes you do, you are trying to prove something.

Me: And what exactly might that be?

Collocutor: That you are better, because you read those stupid books. People who read are boring. You are boring. You try to hide it by proving I am dumb, that is not going to work.

The ‘reading is for boring people’-statement I have heard many times, in many forms. So, I am not even shocked by this in particular. I am just a little stunned because this guy seems to get more and more aggressive about it by the minute. To be honest, I am happy to leave it as it is. Luckily for me, the conversation didn’t last long.

Still, I was stunned. Why was this guy so offended? I love reading, but that does not mean I will treat people who do not read differently.

AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS WITH NON-READERS: PART 3

I am not ashamed of this.

I thinks it is time I confess some of my reading habits. 

1. When I bought a book of which I also loved the cover, I sometimes buy the Kindle version as well. Yes, just to keep it as new.

Some people can read a book and put it back in their bookshelf like no one ever touched it. Well, not me. I hate this about myself, but I always get folds and chocolate stains in it (I like to eat chocolate while reading, maybe I shouldn’t).

2. Sometimes I compare people I encounter with fictional characters.

I once compared someone to Shakespeare’s ‘Iago’ (from Othello), which was totally permissible.

3. I sniff my newly purchased books. 

I can’t help it! Love the smell. I can’t be the only one, right?

4. I have different “categorized” piles of books in every imaginable place in my house. 

I have a nice bookshelf which is half full, because I have all of these small piles of “currently reading”, “want to read”, “nice covers” and “just finished” -books. In my mind they are perfectly categorized, but to anyone else it probably just looks like a lot of piles of books.

5. I read at least three books at the same time. 

I need to have different books for different times of the day: a ‘before I go to sleep’-book, a ‘during the day’-book, and a book that is really light for when my mind is blur after listening to too many lectures in one day.

So these are my weird reading habits, anyone who recognizes this? Or anyone who has other habits to share? Please, tell me!!

I am not ashamed of this.

I considered myself well-nigh a second Columbus

Featured imageA while ago I started reading the classic Reveries of a Solitary Walker by french writer and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In this ‘reverie’ Rousseau describes how he left society to try to find himself in nature. It was one of those works of which I was not sure if I would like it. It turns out, I loved it. It is definitely a book I would recommend, because it is both as funny as it is sad. So, I thought I’d share one of the many great parts of this work. 

This particular part is from the seventh walk (instead of chapters, this work is divided into ‘walks’), in which Rousseau is on a botanical expedition on the hillside of a Swiss mountain, where he finds all kinds of plants. During this expedition he is daydreaming about the place being unknown to the whole universe, he is so sure he makes the following comparison:

“’Doubtless I am the first mortal to set foot in this place.’ I considered myself well-nigh a second Columbus.”

Unfortunately, this state of mind is interrupted by a familiar noise:

“Surprised and intrigued, I got up, pushed through a thicket of undergrowth in the direction of the noise, and in a hollow twenty yards from the very place where I had thought to be the first person to tread, I saw a stocking mill.”

This made me kind of sad, because the ‘Columbus’ part made me laugh: I could really See Rousseau walking happily through the mountains, pretending to be the next Columbus. But the second part clearly showed how hard it might be to escape from (modern) society. Here he finds himself in a perfect state of solitude: to be interfered by a stocking mill.

I considered myself well-nigh a second Columbus