The Case for Reading in Public

by Jessica on March 30, 2018

By Rebecca

I like quiet. No, I love quiet. As a proud bookworm, I crave silence and solitude with a good book to keep me company.

But where’s the thing about reading: while it’s a solitary task it creates a universal experience. It’s why you can talk for hours with someone as soon as you know what books they read, even if you don’t know anything else about them.

I tried something recently. I always carry a book with me (because duh!), but it’s usually tucked away in my bag. But the other day, as I went about my errands, I carried my book in my hands, with the cover proudly visible. And you know what? People asked me about it! They asked how I was enjoying it. They shared their own reading preferences. And I got to talk about books throughout my day! The truly remarkable thing is that real conversations occurred, brief as they were between myself and a handful of strangers. Think about how many people you see every day. The cashier at the grocery store. The person waiting for the bus. Maybe you nod hello or maybe you don’t. Books have a way of forming immediate connections, of giving us something to talk about beyond the surface How are you today? I’m fine, how ’bout yourself?

So why not take it a step further than just carrying a book? Why not sit down and read that book in public?

Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s distracting to try to read with a bunch of background noise. When people see you reading they always interrupt you to, ironically, ask what you’re reading. People might judge you for what you choose to read. It might come across as anti-social. All those concerns are valid.

But who cares?

A) Distractions can be overcome. Simple. The world tends to fall away when you’re reading anyway. Let the sounds of the world around you become part of your experience.

B) I know, I know, it’s annoying when someone interrupts your reading to ask what you’re reading. Trust me, I’ve been there. But when you step back and think of it as an opportunity, you’ll see that it’s a chance to engage. It’s a chance to talk about your favorite books. Maybe you’ll even make the perfect recommendation.

C) Don’t be ashamed of what you choose to read. Reading is valuable, no matter what genre you favor and, personally, I’ve had enough of other people telling me what is and isn’t worth reading. I say read everything, read anything. If you enjoy it, that’s all that matters.

D) Look around. How many people in your vicinity are staring at their phones right now? Enough said.

So read in public.

Think about it! Everything you see makes up your perception of the world. Personally, I want to live in a world where I can look around and see people reading all different kinds of books: on park benches, at coffee shops, even in groups reading together. Imagine going outside and seeing people reading as part of the scenery of your every day life. Imagine being able to pull out a book and read just because it’s a nice day outside.

Read in public! Talk books! Who knows? Maybe someone will see you and decide to read that book they’ve been meaning to get to.