Tuesday, August 3, 2010

reason to not have an e-reader

In a conversation about Kindles, Nooks and the like on someone else's blog (I think it [info]graygirl 's), I jokingly commented that one of the things you don't get when you carry one of those devices around is that random person seeing the cover of the book you're reading while you're on a bus or plane or in a restaurant and starting up a conversation because of it.

I thought I was being a bit funny, because that sort of thing has happened occasionally to me, but not by any means frequently. Well, I must have "spoken it into existence" as a friend used to say.

I've been reading Lev Grossman's The Magicians this week (review at some point in the next day or two, as I'm at least two reviews behind now).

Monday night in Nashville, my server at the Ruby Tuesdays noticed the cover, asked what the book was about, and that led (between taking orders and delivering food and so on) to an on and off conversation about Harry Potter, voracious reading habits, and libraries / used bookstores vs. chain bookstores.

Last night at the PF Chang's here in Memphis, my server asked me what I was reading. Halfway through the meal, a woman took the table next to mine because "oh, he's reading too, so I won't look so strange." Of course, neither of us ended up reading much as we discussed not only what we were reading (she was working through a Tess Gerritsen thriller), but why we found ourselves in the outskirts of Memphis (me for business, her to drop her son off for two days of freshman orientation at a nearby small college), and our shared knowledge of NY and NJ and TX (her husband is from Jersey, she loves Central New York, and they live east of Dallas).

Then, on my way back into the hotel after dinner last night, I was coming through the rotating door while a family was going out through the non-rotating door next to it (if you can picture that, considering how poorly I'm describing it). The mother turned to me, smiled, and said something that I could not hear through the glass over the whisking of the rotating door. As I stepped through, she told her husband and son to hold up, and pointed to my copy of The Magicians:

Her: "That is such a fantastic book!"
Me: "Isn't it? I've got like three chapters left to go."
Her: "Did you know they're talking about a movie?"
Me: "No! I can picture that. Did you know about the sequel?"
Her: "No! Although when you get to the end, you'll see why there very well could be one."
I showed her the page at the back of my copy, which heralds the arrival of The Magician King in Summer of 2011.
Her: "That's so great! Enjoy the rest of the book!"

Seriously. If I'd been walking in with a Kindle, I suppose someone might have said "I have one of those too!" and we might have discussed the relative merits of Kindle v. Nook or whatever -- but I can't imagine the conversation (especially as technologically illiterate as I am -- I have to check the outside of the laptop and the phone to tell you what makes and models they are) being anywhere near as giddily social as any of the conversations above.

Your mileage may vary, as another friend of mine says, but for now, despite the extra weight in the backpack (and hey, that's even actually good for me, it's exercise!), I'll stick with my hardcovers and paperbacks and hope for more such interactions.


Your Life for a Story said...

What a great story. I'm on the subway just about every day and am always on the lookout for books fellow commuters are reading. I sometimes try to remember the titles and then look them up later, and have actually come across a few good titles that I ended up buying or checking out of the library.

It's kinda funny but I think people who are staring into a small computer screen look drugged! I don't know what it is, but people who are holding an actual book look more alive to me. Oh well, maybe that's just me.

Look forward to your review of The Magicians.


Talekyn said...

Michael, thanks for commenting! I really need to figure out how to get this site to email me when people comment on posts, because I sometimes forget to look back at older posts. I'm a bit spacey like that.

I agree with you about people staring into small computer screens -- I was thinking they looked hypnotized, but drugged is more appropriate.

Review of The Magicians in a few days, once I'm settled in here at home!