Awkward conversations with non-readers: part 2

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 many times – in many forms.

When I tell people I am a comparative literature student, one question almost always arises: “What is your favorite book?” I like to talk about books, and I am almost always willing to start a conversation about every literature related topic whatsoever. Nevertheless, I am always kind of afraid that this question pops up. To be honest, I can not name one favorite book of mine in particular, the list of books I love is pretty much endless, and it somehow feels like betrayal to name just one. Now, this is not something that is very weird, – I am pretty sure many of you book-addicts can even relate to this – but to people who are not that much into reading it sometimes seems kind of hard – almost unbearable – to understand. Mostly, the conversation that follows continues more or less like this:

Collocutor: There MUST be one book, just one, that you can name.

Me: Nope. But I do like most of/all the work of Tolstoj/ Márquez/ Stephen King /Whoever else I like to mention at that moment.

(10 seconds of silence to process)

Collocutor:  But there must be one in particular that is your true favorite! Which one is it?

Me: I really can not answer that question.

Collocutor: Off course you can! Think really hard!

This goes on for pretty much 2-5 minutes. At this point I am getting a little frustrated, because the conversation seems to turn into a never-ending discussion. To them, the fact that I can not name one book, is pretty much incomprehensible. Also, some people think asking the question in a louder and louder volume, might help; you never know, maybe their voice will suddenly hit the better part of my brain and – BAM! – I do know what my favorite book is!

At this point I often get a little frustrated, because I even begin to doubt myself: maybe I am weird for not having a favorite book? So, sometimes I turn to the one and only answer I allow myself in these type of situations: my emergency answer.

Me: Okay, my favorite book is Harry Potter.

(Long silence to process again)

Collocutor: Your favorite book is Harry Potter!? I mean, I like Harry Potter, but I thought you would name something more… literature-like, everyone can read Harry Potter.                          (note: this is so wrong, in so many ways)

So, this is where I put all my effort into leading the conversation to Harry Potter, away from the ‘name one favorite book’-question. To be clear, I do love Harry Potter. Also, I think everyone can read EVERY book, not just Harry Potter-like books. Lastly, I know everyone knows something about Harry Potter, which makes it easy to turn the never ending discussion into a normal conversation again.

I do still wonder if I am one of the few people who does not have one favorite book. How do other people, who do not have one particular favorite, handle these kind of situations? Anyone? Please, tell me! 

Awkward conversations with non-readers: part 2

9 thoughts on “Awkward conversations with non-readers: part 2

  1. I have a current favorite series, but my favorite book changes. I break them into categories now. My favorite stand alone non fantasy is The Fault in Our Stars. My favorite author is GRRM, but my favorite fairytale adaptation is Deerskin, and so on. When you read, you experience so many different worlds it seems treacherous to pick one favorite! Also…I don’t mean to sound elitist, but I can’t understand not reading…

    1. It does seem treacherous! Breaking them down into categories is a good idea, I think I’ll start doing that as well.

      Not reading is hard for me to understan as well! I guess half of the people who don’t read, just never read a book that was right for them, otherwise I am sure they would read as well;)

  2. I am just the same! A few years back, I gave this question some serious thought and came up with a trifecta of titles that I’ve memorized to mention in this situation (Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice, and Moby Dick). This is about 60% true and has probably changed a lot in the intervening years – but I’ve found that a quick, quantifiable answer is less confusing to non-readers.

    1. Good to hear I am not the only one! Maybe I should get my own quick answer as well, I should at least give it a try, would be nice to turn these kind of conversations into better ones!!!

  3. The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain, has always been one I throw in the suitcase whenever I go out of town. It’s a travel book from the 1860’s, and the idea of the “unknown around the corner” thing really appeals to me.

    1. I haven’t read that one yet, but it sounds like a book I would really like. I will get myself a copy soon. Maybe it is another one I can put on my long list of favorite books:) Thanks for the tip!

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