Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Which Book Would Prompt You to Talk to a Stranger?

Writer Kia Abdullah had the idea for this post, which is something we may lose in the e-book era: seeing what strangers are reading and possibly striking up a conversation.

Kia writes:

...So I saw a person reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides on the train and I just had to talk to them about the book (something I've never done before). If you haven't done something like this already, it might make a good You Tell Me (i.e. what book would make you talk to a stranger). I don't think it's always necessarily your favourite book, but one that you may have read recently or that is largely unread by your circle of friends and acquaintances.

Is there a book you're so passionate about that you'd strike up a conversation with someone you saw reading it?






204 comments:

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Shiloh Walker said...

Oh... Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane, any of the Stardoc books by SL Viehl. Hmmm-there are probably others. But those are at the top.

Cindy Rowland said...

Anything by John Thorne would have me coming on a little too strong. I'm currently in love with him but no one else I know has read him.

Dan said...

The answer to the question depends entirely upon how attractive the stranger is.

Jenn Marie said...

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or The Mists of Avalon, because both exist in my bloodstream at this point.

Shelby House said...

Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey...
Two books that seem well-known and are extremely well-written, but nobody I know has read them.

heyjude said...

If I saw somebody reading Remainder by Tom McCarthy, I'd grab them by arm, shouting, "So, whaddaya think? Whaddaya think? Isn't it great?"

John said...

House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski

This is the strangest, most confounding, heartbreaking, downright weird and memorable book I've ever read, and I know personally ONE other human who has read it. If I see someone reading this out in the world they are my new best friend.

Courtney Price ~ Vintage Ginger Peaches said...

I'd pretty much talk to anyone about any book that looks interesting to me or that I've read already. A romance novel probably wouldn't catch my interest though :)

heather said...

I once saw a very daunted looking fellow sit down on the train and crack open a brand new copy of Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I cheered (literally!) and told him it was well worth his while. He looked very relieved.

Jenna said...

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, or Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I know, original right?

D W Knaggs said...

Only Revolutions by Mark Z Danielewski actually did, and we trade business cards and I sent the guy a copy of Marks Sisters Album they did for House of Leaves. It was weird because I was wearing her t-shirt at the time.

Jess Tudor said...

Would definitely be my favorites...

So anything by Joshilyn Jackson, Laurie Halse Anderson, or Jeri Smith-Ready.

Ariane said...

SANDMAN by Neil Gaiman
GORMENGHAST by Mervyn Peake
LAMENT by Maggie Stiefvater
pretty much any pre-modern Japanese literature, since that was my major!

Melissa said...

I was reading one of the Twilight books (can't remember which) at my kids' swim lessons one day. Not only did one of the instructors stop to talk about it, but a DAD got in on the conversation. Apparently his wife had made him read the series, and he blushed when he admitted to actually liking it. I remember he was this buff-looking EMT. LOL!

Most recently was a teen boy at the pool over the summer who saw me with Catching Fire. He wanted to talk about the Hunger Games, which I thought that was pretty cool.

I think I would only talk to a stranger if he or she happened to be reading a book I'd just read or was currently reading. I tend to keep to myself. ;-)

Kristan said...

Hm, well, I went on a cruise last month and a woman next to me was reading EAT PRAY LOVE. I'd brought that to read too, so I was going to talk to her (after she woke up from her nap) but then I got caught up in EPL and forgot, and when she woke up she spotted me reading it and ended up starting the conversation herself!

That's not the only example, but that's the only one I can remember right now. :P

david glen larson said...

Atlas Shrugged. I'm running an informal poll to see how many current Atlas Shrugged readers are Libertarians or Tea Party members. Otherwise anything by Lois Mcmaster Bujold.

Wordy Birdie said...

I've done this more than once. I recently struck up a conversation with a stranger I saw reading a Barbara Kingsolver book I hadn't yet seen.

We became friends. :)

lora96 said...

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

East of Eden

Bel Canto

Becca said...

The Virgin of Small Plains or The Scent of Rain and Lightening--both by Nancy Pickard. The approach to her novels is pure genius, the writing is accessible, it's emotionally driven, fantastic characters, and a great plot. More so, I've spoken with her and SHE is awesome too, so there is a lot to talk about when it comes to her books.

The other one is Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santas. Marisa intrigues me both as a reader and as a writer. She's witty and original and confident, and she chooses unconventional characters.

There is just so much to these stories and their authors, that I don't need even need to see someone reading the book to strike up a conversation about them. I recommend anyone them to anyone who loves reading, and anyone who is looking to move from the basics of writing to successfully writing the rules, these are two good people to follow because there their madness makes perfect sense.

Jesse said...

1. If my nose is in a book, you best not be interrupting me for conversation, thank you!

2. I don't see reading from a Kindle/Nook/iPad changing that. If someone's going to interrupt, s/he will interrupt to ask you what you're reading.

3. The Outlander Saga by Diana Gabaldon. I'll still be a bit surly for being interrupted but I'll definitely educate you about a series of excellent books.

Maya said...

I have previously asked a stranger about a book. It was the latest by an author I like. I was disappointed when she said it wasn't that great -- and even more disappointed when I eventually read the book and the stranger turned out to be right!

Also, I read a lot of YA even though I'm not a teen. A kid came up to me when I was reading the Cassandra Clare series. He was red-faced embarrassed but practically bursting to say something. Finally, he blurted, "I just wanted to say I LOVE those books. They're really great." I thought it was the cutest thing in the world. It was so nice to actually meet a teen who reads, and so passionately!

Kimberly Kinrade said...

SMOKE AND MIRRORS by Neil Gaiman. Well pretty much anything by him. But if they were well through the book I would want to know how they thought he arranged the logistics of the murders in Murder Mysteries.

If they hadn't yet arrived at that short story, I would kindly request they read it straight away so as to discuss it. I can be very persuasive :) And the symbolism of the elevator? Sheer genius or a joke? I have no idea! It's either his best or worst story and I can't decide in any given moment which.

Nathan Smith said...

Books with historical significance - like "To Kill a Mockingbird", "Atlas Shrugged", "Tom Sawyer"(?), etc. books that are challenging - "Ulysess" and books that are favorites to me, like books by Arthur C. Clark, Frank Herbert, William Gibson, and Neal Stephenson are books that would cause me to start a conversation.

John said...

ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card. I keep an extra copy of this book so that I can loan it to friends who have not yet read it. I say "yet" because I will make them.

Jamie Lynne Stone said...

Dune, by Frank Herbert. Or Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery. Or The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Or Harry Potter. Those are the ones. :D

TKAstle said...

Pretty much any book. I'm not shy and books are a great way to connect with other people.

It would definitely depend on how engrossed the person looked, though. I wouldn't want to be rude or have my head bitten off.

earthgirl said...

Anyone reading a book of poetry is bound to be my brother or sister.

Tchann said...

I am so damn shy I could be published and see someone reading my own book and still not approach them. -_-;;

But a few weeks back I saw someone reading one of my favorites (Elfstones of Shannara) at the trolley platform and I timidly approached him about it, which ended shortly and awkwardly.

So...yeah. =\

JenniA8677 said...

Shiver or Linger by Stiefvter. The series is one of my favorites but I don't know that many people (besides on the web) that have read them. Depending on the setting, but I would probably stop and ask anyone about a book, especially if its a fav or by a fav author. I think if I saw someone reading something that I haven't yet but was interested in I would ask as well.

Kia Abdullah said...

Well, you know what mine is :)

> John
I think I may order House of Leaves after that glowing review.

> Jesse
*Backs away slowly*

Anonymous said...

"Dracula" always gets my blood moving.

Mira said...

Fun question.

Basically any book I've read, or am thinking about reading is fair game - if I feel like having a conversation.

But any Harry Potter - I'd have a hard time restraining myself.

Jenn Kelly said...

Anyone reading Alice in Wonderland. If anyone was reading that in public, they'd be worth getting to know.

Myrna Foster said...

It would depend on the book and my mood, but I don't like to interrupt people when they're into a story.

I had the most strangers interrupt me when I was reading anything Harry Potter.

Angela Korra'ti said...

I have yet to be asked what I'm reading when I have a paperback in my hands.

I have, however, been asked about my nook more than once!

Honors Code said...

BLUE LIKE JAZZ, or A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS both by Donald Miller.

I think if someone wad reading those books, I would see something of a kindred spirit and want to learn a bit of their story.

Vinyl and Mono said...

Mine.

Or Nick Hornby.

Or if I saw Nick Hornby reading anything, I'd talk to him.

Laura said...

Twin Study by Stacey Richter (or My Date With Satan), anything by Amy Hempel or Lorrie Moore.

Stephanie Garber said...

Probably Uglies, Pretties, or Specials, by Scott Westerfeld. I love those books and I don't think I've ever seen anyone read them in public.

Then on the other hand, I was in a bookstore once and I did strike up a conversation with a stranger because they were about to buy a book that I hated. It was part of a series that I had loved, until I read the book this person was holding, and so I felt compelled that share that news with them. Of course they still wanted to read the book, and I couldn't blame them, but I was still glad I had warned them about it.

Sommer said...

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

I've struck up conversations with random readers before though, if nothing else to say "Hey is it any good?"

I don't know. Seeing someone reading a book makes them feel like a kindred spirit. Some part of me reflexively believes they'll want to talk to me too.

Theresa Milstein said...

I almost always will ask people about a book if I recognize the cover and am thinking of reading it. If it's middle grade or YA, I always ask.

I'm a sub, so I always ask the students about the books they're reading.

Becky Levine said...

Honestly, it doesn't take much for me to start talking about a book-especially if the person is clearly a parent/grandparent trying to pick out something in the kids/teen section for a young reader. They can barely get me to shut up. :)

Reesha said...

This was the first thing I thought of when eBooks came out.
I wish they would put a little window on the back of all eReaders that has the title of what you're reading so that others can see it too. With an option to turn it off, of course.

Although, when someone is holding a book, there are usually two angles that block anyone else from seeing what's on the page. With an eReader, there's just one, so I think surrounding observers would be able to see what you're reading more easily if you use an eReader than they would be with a regular book.

Because of this post, I'm now going to approach every person I see using an eReader and ask them "Whatcha reading?" It should be fun.

As for which book would make me talk to a stranger?
Probably your book, Nathan. I'd be more likely to make a personal connection with someone who was reading a book by one of the blogs that I follow. Especially if they also follow that blog.

Joanne Sheppard said...

I'd like to say yes, but I'm English. We need a lot more than a good book to force us to make conversation with strangers, believe me.

Little Interpretations said...

Anything by Faulker. First question: "are you confused??": if "no" then "why not?"; if "yes" ... "isn't it brilliant!!"

I do love Faulkner.

Reesha said...

Honors Code - I totally love Blue Like Jazz! And yeah, I'd probably start a conversation with someone about that too.

Bethany said...

The only real-life experience I have with this is A Confederacy of Dunces by Toole and Ishmael by Quinn. Good conversations!

beth said...

Maybe, I'm weird. I do this sort of thing regularly.

Diana Q. said...

"Girl With the Dragon Tatoo" or any book from the trilogy...and "We the Living" by Ayn Rand.

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart. It's one of my absolute favorite books, and I literally don't know anyone else who's read it without me recommending it to them first. Seeing someone I don't know with it would make me SO HAPPY.

Jakob Barnard said...

Any Wheel of Time book. Have to know if it was their first time reading the series, or on their zillion re-read.

Sandersons new The Way of Kings. Such a large scope that many different discussions could result.

Danielle said...

I thought I was going to be so original by saying House of Leaves...until I saw that like 50 other people mentioned the same book. Sigh.

Originality aside, reading House of Leaves makes you feel like you've survived something horrific—not because the book is bad, but because it's strange and unsettling. When you find out other people have read it you just have to swap war stories. You measured your living room after reading it? Oh my god, so did I!

exploringeliza said...

Atlas Shrugged, We the People, or The Fountainhead. Or any of Ayn Rand's books of essays. Always ripe for conversation, that woman.

Girlfriends Book Club said...

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Anonymous said...

I so admire all of you who have your pick of strangers reading books. I cannot think of the last time I saw someone reading a book in public.

Aoife.Troxel said...

You know, I might strike up a conversation with anyone reading a book I have read, particularly if I hated it or loved it.
But only if they looked friendly :)

Sierra McConnell said...

I guess I'm one of those weird people that just don't want to be bothered if I'm reading. But people do often do that, even though I'm polite enough that I raise the book to show them what I'm reading and hold it so they can read the blurb.

If they don't get the point by then, a long suffering sigh should do it.

If not, I'm blunt.

Becky Wallace said...

I have a really bad habit of striking up a conversation with everyone...and sometimes their pets and children.

But any book that I haven't read that looks interesting would be a worthy conversation starter.

Other than that, anything Dostoyevsky. (HAHA! SO far I'm original. So far)

Andi Newton said...

Without a doubt, I'd want to chat with anyone I saw reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. At the same time, I'd hate to drag someone away from what I know is a fantastic story, so I probably wouldn't bother anyone who was actively reading at the time. If he or she was just sitting there holding Neverwhere, though, I'd definitely have to strike up a conversation.

@Jenn Marie: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a brilliant book! The way everything comes together in the end -- things that I thought were unnecessary and peripheral at first -- was just so well done.

Mojito Maven said...

The Witches by Roald Dahl.

Because anyone that reads the awesomesauce that is roald dahl is someone i'd like to know!

Eleven Eleven said...

The whole world asked about Frankenstein when I carried it around. They all said they had always wanted to read it, but had never quite gotten to it. I told them to skip the first hundred pages if they ever did.

If somebody else were carrying it, I'd probably ask them if they survived the beginning and got to the good stuff yet.

nova said...

I was thiiiiis close to asking somebody what they thought of that book A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, but I guess I mostly wanted to ruin any illusion that it was a purely non-fiction story, not talk about the book. Mean, huh?

Rltch said...

Two books I would stop and discuss if I saw a stranger reading one:

"The Ignored" by Bentley Little

"The Art Of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein

ryan field said...

I probably wouldn't talk to a complete stranger about a book. And if one talked to me I'd probably just smile and move on.

As for discussing books with people I know, I do this all the time with e-books and print books.

But not with strangers.

The Invisible Writer said...

The book that would do it for me right now is "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt - but I'm a nerd. It's possibly the only econ. book anyone need read!

Oh and David Glen Larsen - You can count me as an Atlas Shrugged read who is a Libertarian (though I read the book in '07 and became the big "L" afterwards). Not a Tea Partier though.

Fiction, though - "Hunger Games" and "Book Thief" might do it!

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

I haven't but I've had several people approach me to ask about a book I've been reading.

hannah said...

Any book I've read.

But I'm outgoing. :)

Maya said...

"Anonymous said...

I so admire all of you who have your pick of strangers reading books. I cannot think of the last time I saw someone reading a book in public.

September 29, 2010 11:31 AM"

@Anon: Have you never been on a plane or public transit? Or perhaps, a park on a sunny day?

Kat Sheridan said...

I know this will sound unpardonably rude, but I read a book in public precisely so I DON'T have to talk to strangers. There's nothing more annoying than being on a plane, dying to dive into my latest book, and be trapped for five hours with someone who wants to chat. Or sitting alone in a restaurant, wishing only to enjoy a cold drink, a hot dinner, and light reading, and being accosted by a stranger.

The ONLY time I want someone to mention a book I'm reading is if they actually wrote it. In which case I would say something polite, ask for an autograph, and resume reading. Le sigh.

T. Anne said...

I fantasize about finding someone who is actually reading a book I've read. I've yet to come across this situation BUT I always look to see what book people are reading out and about.

Speaking of which, what book are you reading right now Nathan? I would love to know!

Nathan Bransford said...

t. anne-

I'm between books actually, need to decide what I'm going to read next.

Ted said...

FISKADORO by Denis Johnson. I read it 15 years ago and it's like a weird evocative dream I still remember well. Don't know anyone else who's read it.

WritersBlockNZ said...

I don't think I've ever stopped to talk to a stranger when I saw them reading a book, but when I was on a plane over to Europe, someone stopped to ask me about a Dean Koontz book I was reading (and it turned out we were both big fans). Also when the final Harry Potter book came out I don't think anyone was safe reading that in public.

Ulysses said...

"Constructing Explosive Devices for Fun and Profit."

Admittedly, the stranger I would talk to would more likely be a police officer than the person reading it, but still...

Mira said...

Reesha - absolutely! If I saw anyone reading Nathan's book in public, there is no way I could resist talking to them.

Anonymous said...

American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld, because I think she's awesome.

Sara Murphy said...

Anything written by my friends or Clan of the Cave Bear.

Jennifer Foushee said...

In addition to HUNGER GAMES (obviously), I'd say THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD or anything else by Zora Neale Hurston or BELOVED by Toni Morrison. Oooh, or BREATH, EYES, MEMORY by Edwidge Danticat. Those are favorites - wouldn't be able to resist!

Shelli said...

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. My all-time favorite, most inspiring book I've ever read. I'd recommend it to anyone, too.

Kathy said...

My experience was on the opposite end: I was reading THE FOUNTAINHEAD on the subway and a man said, "That's a great book. Howard Roark is my hero." I looked up and saw it was the man who plays Todd Manning on ONE LIFE TO LIVE. I was too flustered to speak. (he's a hottie!)

Becca said...

Probably A Clockwork Orange would make me need to start a conversation. Either that or Looking For Alaska

Melody said...

I want to meet someone reading THE THIEF, THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA, THE KING OF ATTOLIA, or A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS so badly! I would strike up a conversation with that stranger no problem!

wonderer said...

Anything by Sarah Monette, my new favourite (but not well known) fantasy author.

Tim Riley said...

Great question. Anything by Micheal Chabon, Jonathan Tropper, or Cormac McCarthy

abc said...

The History of Love. It is a pound my heart with my fist book for me. Like Winona Ryder when she talked about Before Night Falls at the Oscars many years back. Does anyone remember that? It was kind of embarrassing, actually.

Um, anyway, that is the book.

In other news, John, I have also read House of Leaves. I liked it--kinda, sorta--but I did want to bitch slap it a few times.

Kristin Laughtin said...

SPIN, by Robert Charles Wilson. And I'm one of those who doesn't usually bug other readers because I hated it when people interrupted my reading on the bus!

attackfish said...

I have twice had people strike up conversations with me based on what I'm reading (I tend not to notice what others are reading, because I', unobservant) once was horrifying, and once was wonderful, and both happened close to each other.

The horrifying one happened when I was reading Harry Potter 5 on a plane. It had just come out, and I was devouring it, and I was trapped in my chair, because my leg was broken, and my crutches had already been stowed away. The man who sat next to me was a right wing Christian, who believed Harry Potter was from the devil, and proceeded to lecture me for the next five hours on the evils of witchcraft and fantasy literature. I was fourteen, and a socially awkward, retiring fourteen, and he was middle aged. he used my unwillingness to be disrespectful of adults to disrespect me.

The next time someone struck up a conversation with me based on what I was reading was a few months later, and I had just started high school. The person doing the striking up was a sophomore, and the book was A Wizard of Earthsea. She and I became instant best friends and have remained so since.

Christauna Asay said...

Mr. Monster by Dan Wells. The complex and scary protagonist always makes me want to ask, "Do you like John Cleaver?"

Amy Rost said...

Any Terry Practchett novel, because his talent is underappreciated and I know few people who've read his books.

Jil said...

I'm tempted to talk to anyone who is reading so long as there's an opportune moment, when they look up or something. I might be scared off by a grumpy looking person but anyone in the gym or in a waiting room is fair game.

If they're reading a romance or a book with a cheap looking cover I'm not interested and if they are an interesting looking person and the book they're reading turns out to be trash it can be disappointing.

adam.purple said...

Why, my unpublished one. Once it's published, of course.

Ermo said...

Hmmmm.... I'd probably do it for Freaknomics because that thing is a converation starter in itself.

The other one would be Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Fantastic, ridiculously long book that I've never heard of anyone else reading.

Del said...

I had a fun experience on the train just a few weeks ago. I sat down, whipped out my paperback copy of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and then happened to notice that the person directly across from me was reading the hardback version. We caught each other's eyes, smiled, and each made some sort of comment about how popular the books were. The woman who was sitting on my left chuckled and then revealed she was reading the third in the series on her ereader. We all shared about a minute’s worth of conversation about the series and then delved back into our respective reads.

Turns out, I didn’t care for the book, but I love that moment.

Anjali said...

I've done it with Middlesex and House of Sand and Fog.

Heidi said...

The Bible. Jane Eyre. Something unusual, or something I'd been meaning to read.

J. T. Shea said...

Nathan between books!? I thought you'd always have at least a dozen on the go at any given moment.

Mystery Robin said...

Any Amelia Peabody book by Elizabeth Peters. I feel a special bond with anyone reading them. :)

Also, probably Bittersweet or Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist, because I know her, and her books are fabulous. :)

Stephanie McGee said...

I can't say that there is. But I did have it happen to me one time in college. I was reading a Tamora Pierce novel that had just come out and a guy next to me at the bus stop started talking to me because of it. He was a fan of hers as well. We chatted until my bus came.

Carradee said...

…Um, I strike up conversations with strangers anyway, though I'm more likely to if they're reading something. Even if it's a book I didn't much care for.

I once noticed that the lady behind me in line to check out at B&N had two books in a UF series I'd read; I mentioned that I liked them, but I liked another author more. The lady left line to go find those books.

Livia said...

Funny, I was going to say Tamora Pierce, and then saw Stephanie's comment

chicleeblair said...

I did this when visiting the UK, on the tube once a woman was reading Mansfield Park.

Probably any book I really liked, honestly. Conversations struck up with strangers have led some pretty good friendships. Particularly when strangers are in line to meet Neil Gaiman

Kristi Helvig said...

I've done this three times to strangers this week alone. Two different people were reading THE HELP (which I adored), and the other was reading GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (which is on my TBR pile but I loved the movie).

Although I'm usually an introvert, I'll pretty much talk to anyone about books--people who read aren't strangers to me.

Stacey Nelson said...

I think I tend to hold my books up so people can see what I'm reading just so someone can ask me about it. I'm a dork. I did have one young guy tell me he "didn't think girls read that kind of book" one day. I was reading one of The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I'm a fantasy geek. That's about all I read!

Scott said...

If I saw someone reading a Kindle at this point in time, that alone would be enough to start a conversation over. (I'm in a fairly rural area and don't know anyone a single person who's bought an ereader yet.)

In the future when they're more common, I'd probably ask him what he was reading on it and start a conversation that way. If I see someone reading something I already know about I'm unlikely to want to talk about it, but if it's a mystery that needs discovering, that's different.

Aidan Ryan said...

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and the Damned" - that book was one of the most enjoyable I've ever read, and, as it was the first exposure I had to Fitzgerald, I will always be in awe of how freaking good it was.

Kate said...

I frequently start conversations with strangers. Good or bad, it's something I do. But probably any book that I could have conversation about, any book I had an opinion on.

Ian Tuttle said...

Ender's Game -- Orson Scott Card !

Marney said...

Three Cups of Tea because it's an inspiring true story of how one person can make a huge difference in the world without actually having that grandiose objective.

Rick Daley said...

I don't try to start up a conversation, for two reasons:

1. I don't want to disturb their reading. It's kind of a "do unto others" thing, because I prefer to read without the distraction of a conversation.

2. I'm probably busy reading something.

WORD VERIFICATION: oroprin. A soon-to-be-developed pharmaceutical.

WARNING: Possible side affects may include nausea, vomiting, ulcers, cirrhosis, IBS, heavy breathing, shortness of breath, near sightedness, far sightedness, perfect vision, blindness, exploding eyeball syndrome, accelerated growth of body hair, halitosis (I mean really bad, like toilet breath), immortality, and death.

evelonies said...

i'm not shy at all about talking to strangers about books they're reading. generally, if it's a book i enjoyed, especially a less popular book, i'll say something. ditto for books i absolutely hated. a good example: jay's journal. HATED that book w/ the heat of a thousand hot pockets. it gave me nightmares for weeks, and i won't hesitate to tell anyone to never, ever read it. it's a true story, some kid's journal that the mom found and published w/ changed names after he committed suicide, but it's really dark and super creepy, and if i ever saw someone reading it, i'd advise them to burn it on the spot. i'd even supply the lighter fluid.

Julie Hedlund said...

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Anything by David Sedaris

And so many more...

Sears Beth said...

This is a twist on the question.

I once had a handsome man ask me about a book I was reading on the metro in Washington DC. The book was "Blue Highways" by William Least-Heat Moon. He said he'd read it too and we talked a little about the book before he asked me for a date. Several dates later he admitted he'd never read the book. Should have been a sign for me...

Laurel said...

I'm a walking stereotype from the South. I don't need any reason at all to talk to a stranger.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I actually do this all the time. I meet people in the strangest ways and in the oddest places.

The Hunger Games, Catch 22, anything by Bill Bryson, Going Bovine, and anything I've read recently or am currently reading. And anything currently on my radar as something to read or pay attention to.

NiaRaie said...

If I saw someone reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I'd definitely want to discuss.

Stuart Buck said...

This is why e-readers need a "show-off" function, namely, a second screen ON THE BACK that displays what you're reading at the time. Of course, we'd soon see apps that let you display that you're reading Tolstoy when you're really reading John Grisham . .. . .

Anonymous said...

I used to re-read 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' on public transport in the hope that someone else who loved it too would talk to me. This was on the basis that anyone else who enjoyed it would be someone interesting to talk to, (and hopefully be an attractive and charismatic male).

Sissy said...

I talk to people about books all the time if I have read the book, thought about reading the book, or hated the book. There are many, many reasons why I start up conversations with people about books.

Mike said...

Gosh, so many ... "War and Peace," of course, "The Possessed," anything by Turgenev except "Fathers and Sons," "Great Expectations," and from there it kind of degenerates into obscure stuff that I would want to talk about simply out of surprise that someone else knew about them -- "Utopia," for example.

Anita Saxena said...

I have had a couple conversations with complete strangers about Harry Potter. And I've personally struck up a conversation with someone at the airport who was reading the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, after seeing many a passenger carrying it.

Nick said...

It depends how nerdaphobic I'm feeling at the moment, and of course the person needs to not be super sweaty or look scary for any other reason.

B. A. Binns said...

Hey, anytime I see anyone reading my book, I will talk with them, no doubt about it.

Cherise said...

Either The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, or That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. With both books, the appeal is not so much the story as the thoughts presented in them, and I would love to hear the stranger's opinion on them.

Andrea said...

Anything/everything Vonnegut.

&

House of Leaves. Oh, and Shantaram because none of my friends have read it.

Jeanne said...

"Virus of the Mind", Richard Brodie. Just about anything by Gregg Braden. "Eat Pray Love". The Sookie Stackhouse series. Anything on Philosophy, World Religions, Horses. I'll also strike up random conversations if you are knitting or crocheting.

You know, the advent of the Kindle could spell the end of the randomly struck-up chat--unless you're nosy enough (or they are) to peek.

Sam Hranac said...

The title of the book changes from month to month, but it would have to be an actual book and not a eBook. I've noticed on the bus that I can't tell what books people are reading so much anymore - I can't see the jackets or book covers.

Cathi said...

This happened to me at work - I was reading Girl with The Dragon Tattoo and in a week three people I don't know came up to me and said they'd read it. It's sad to think this kind of interaction won't take place with e- readers...

Anonymous said...

I have absolutely done this - multiple times. Most recently, I overheard a girl asking an employee at a bookstore which of the "Gallagher Girls" books came first in the series. The salesperson didn't know, so I proceeded to annoy them both with a way-too-detailed answer. What can I say - I love Ally Carter.

But I would enjoy the "Hunger Games," "Harry Potter" and "Book Thief" conversations the rest of y'all are proposing as well. :)

Other Lisa said...

1. Mine
(I totally would)

2. I read NEVER LET ME GO a week or two ago and really loved it, and I keep thinking about it. So that one.

3. Probably any book that I've read in the last few years and really liked

Rebecca Harwell said...

Anything by Mercedes Lackey or Anne McCaffrey. And any kind of book about writing. If I saw someone reading "Plot and Structure" I'd have to say something.

Rebecca Harwell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
elfspirit333@gmail.com said...

Yes, I just finished The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and if I saw someone reading it, I would want to discuss it.

Jeffrey Beesler said...

Stephen King's Cell, any of the Harry Potter Books, or anything in the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz would qualify as conversation starters for me.

Susan Young Tuttle said...

What book would prompt me to talk to a stranger? Well, mine, of course. But seriously, being a Leo I never have trouble striking up a conversation. I'd have to say to answer this that I'd be most interested in someone reading a book I didn't enjoy. I'd love to discuss what attracts that reader and debate the pros and cons of why we feel differently about this volume. Then segue into those we both do like. I learn much more about human nature by exploring our differences than celebrating our sameness.

Nan said...

"Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal" by Christopher Moore, because whoever I saw reading it would be laughing out loud and I wouldn't be able to resist laughing with them...and then we'd have to chortle about the scene when an inebriated Jesus explains why we have the Easter bunny...in no time, we'd be having a beer together...hey...books are a great way to make friends!!

kimberlyloomis said...

The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Atlas Shrugged or We the Living - both by Ayn Rand, Jane Eyre, Lord of the Rings, Stranger in a Strange Land or Time Enough for Love by Heinlein.

Susan C Shea said...

Well...my book! But I might strike up a conversation if it's any book I read recently and loved, like the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Ghosts of Belfast, anything by Cara Black (she's a friend, another reason why I'd speak up), or David Corbett's Done for a Dime. Right now, Howl (Allen Ginsberg) because the film's just coming out and anyone reading poetry must be pretty interesting!

Becca C. said...

I've talked to strangers in the bookstore about The Hunger Games, and on multiple occasions I've recommended it to moms browsing for books for their teenage daughters.

nilaewhite said...

Me Talk Pretty One Day by Sedaris. Did it in an airplane (meaning, struck up a conversation with the fellow sitting next to me reading the book).

Taylor said...

Nathan...

Anything by Lee Child - the man plots the shit out of every story he writes. Jack Reacher is a character for the ages. He never fails...IMHO

Anonymous said...

Anything by Borges, Nabokov, Shirley Hazzard, Louise Erdrich, Martin Cruz Smith, YA fantasy a kid was reading, McCarthy's Bar (world's funniest book) --and mine (when I finish writing it and it's published, LOL.)

Anonymous said...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you see anyone reading Pride and Prejudice, you can talk to them... well, I do anyway. I would chat to anyone who is reading something that I've read. I talk to complete strangers who are not even reading when they happen to be in the same aisle of the library as me (I've found some of my favorite authors through recommendations gleaned this way). You can talk to anyone about "Twilight" and I have to stop anyone who is reading Jasper Fforde for a quick chat....

B.E.T. said...

One of the Sevenwaters Series by Juliet Marillier, or The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. Favorite books of all time and I'd definitely strike up dialogue over those!

Kimberly said...

I am an extroverted stay at home mom, any recognizable book would be a sufficient excuse to start a conversation with a stranger..

Nicole L Rivera said...

Harry Potter, any book in the series. I could talk about this book for hours.

M.A.Leslie said...

Not to take everyone else's ideas but any Harry Potter book. I could have and have had quite a few conversations with people reading the book. The most interesting part was that some were in their fifties and sixties and others were in their early teens and each of the demographics spoke of the book with the same passion. JK Rowling is my hero.

P.S. Can't wait to talk to someone about Freedom but it won't be delivered to the house until tomorrow, so excited.

Heather said...

outlander series

Julie said...

I was reading Tom Jones in the hair salon and a woman nearby said that she used to teach the book when she was a university professor. When I looked up I realized she looked familiar. It turned out she was my professor when I was in university--at a school five hours away. She had recently moved to my small town and graciously offered up the library and its contents she had in her home. It was the beginning of a long relationship talking books, swapping treasures and closing the generation gap. (I was 28, she was 67.)

Karla said...

Anything I've enjoyed.
I find myself doing this every time I'm in a bookstore, too - approaching strangers and recommending some book in their hands because I liked it. Still waiting for my commission cheques to roll in...

wendy said...

A copy of the Bible is about all. I use to love books but these days not so much. Most: boring, crude, unimaginative, same ol', same ol'. Sorry. I rather liked the first book in the Twilight series as it was neither of the above and similiar to one of my stories. But many people read it so I wouldn't start up a conversation about it.

Valerie said...

The Dollmaker, by Harriet Arnow. Loved the book but I don't know anyone else who has read it. A movie was made, starring Jane Fonda as a Kentucky farm wife. I was prepared to hate her in the role, was certain she'd screw it up, but she did a great job. One of the most heartbreaking stories I've ever read.

Hilary said...

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The Red Angel said...

Hmmm....Harry Potter, Little Women, A Wrinkle in Time. Though it would also depend on what the stranger looked like. If he/she looked sketchy I probably wouldn't talk to him/her at all. xD

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

Margie said...

The other day I was at the B&N cafe reading the first chapter of The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay and some kid came by and told me what a great book it was. His recommendation made me buy it :)

For me, I remember talking to strangers who read "The DaVinci Code", Harry Potter, and anything by Sarah Addison Allen.

A Paperback Writer said...

If I were anywhere in the US (not in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK) and I saw someone reading anything by Edwin Morgan (on whom I wrote my dissertation), I would most certainly stop and speak to that person.

Lillian Grant said...

Anything by Hunter S. Thompson. Anyone who reads Hunter is worth knowing.

Courtney said...

OUTLANDER SERIES!!! DIANA GABALDON!!!

I spent half a year in Scotland because of these books. Went on a tour of the Highlands. Discovered about five other people on the tour who also suffered from an Outlander fetish.

Some of my dearest friendships blossomed from the time spent in Scotland.

Books bring people together. I don't think/am fervently hoping that eBooks won't diminish this affect.

Silicon Valley Diva said...

OKAY, I was always under the Impression that it is perfectly normal to walk up to complete strangers and discuss the book they're holding???

I do this ALL the time :-)

Yamile said...

I've talked to strangers everywhere when it's about books. Once I saw someone at Costco not sure about the Mortal Instruments series, and I could not recommend it enough to them. In the library, a lady wasn't sure what middle grade book to take for her grandson, and I told her about Gregor the Overlander. I hope some mother out there doesn't hate me. I've given away tons of copies of The Shadow of the Wind, in fact, I don't have my own at the moment.
I've read Atlas Shrugged and all of Ayn Rand's books, and if I see someone with it, I sometimes say something. You might think I'm this annoying person who always intrudes into people's quiet time with books, but I'm actually kind of shy. With books I make an exception.

Steve Bradley said...

Being extremely introverted, I'm not likely to strike up a conversation with anyone. However, if the person appeared approachable, I may have to comment to someone who was reading White Noise by Don DeLillo. I can't begin to describe how much I loved that book, and how much it influenced my own writing.

Caitlin R. O'Connell said...

I pounced on a complete stranger at a bus stop because they were reading Mockingjay and I hadn't bought a copy yet.

Granted, she was talking to someone I knew, but still.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Les Miserables, Gone with the Wind, the Harry Potter series, the Outlander series.

KSB said...

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I finished it a month ago and I still think about it daily. I would willingly accost any stranger who was reading it, even though I'm on the shy side. Incredible writing, characters beautifully drawn, unusual setting, and a captivating storyline. Stunning and well worth any initially awkward conversation.

Parisa said...

Probably Foxfire (Joyce Carol Oates) or Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi)

Uninvoked said...

Any of the Harry Dresden series at the minute. Something like a breathless, "Do you like it??" as I hope to meet another fan.

Steph said...

I have stopped several times in the book store when I see people standing in the aisle with blank stares, not knowing what to pick. When I was there a few days ago, a grandmother was in the YA aisle with me and asked if I knew any good "Twilighty" books for her grand daughter. I picked up Hush, Hush for her.

I also recommend Megan McCafferty's books to everyone I see looking for something new to read. Or for non-fiction, I always suggest Jen Lancaster.

I have bought everyone I know a copy of Looking for Alaska. :)

nancylicious said...

I *have* struck conversations with strangers reading Walter Benjamin and Benjamin Kunkel's Indecision. Both conversations led to Craigslist Missed Connections with guys named David that ended unsuccessfully.

Hillsy said...

I'm English - so the concept of interrupting someone while they are reading, even to comment on what they are reading, is pretty much a hanging offence.

Even if I didn't die of embarrassment, the combined mortification of all the commuters would probably derail the train.

The furthest, the ABSOLUTE furthest, I've gone is when I leaned to one side to confirm that the man next to me on the tube was indeed reading "The Gathering Storm" (the newest Wheel Of Time book for all you empty lifed fools who haven't read it yet). He looked at me, I looked up from the cover and just gave him a knowing nod of approval. I still feel ashamed to this day.

Janalyn said...

I can't stop recommending World War Z by Max Brooks. I'd definitely talk to someone reading it, since I talk to all the people who aren't reading it at the moment about it already. It's global in scope, creepy, political, and tongue-in-cheek.

KareeniaRN said...

"Left Behind" by Tim Lahay and Jerry B. Jenkins is probably the only book that has produced the effect that made me ask, "What are you reading?” A book held tightly in a young man’s hands (who I am guessing was approximately in his middle twenties) bringing him to tears outside the hospital. It was early February and the book look worn as if a thousand people had already read what he held in his hands. I had stepped out for a break and a smoke (something I quit nine years ago, thank God) and there he sat, tears rolling down his face. He looked up at me with huge brown weepy eyes and said, "A book that is changing my life rapidly," and handed it to me as he wiped his face. I read that particular book when he was finished and so have many more people past me in the hospital where I worked and all throughout our town. I own it and the entire series, but I don't particularly keep it. It is passed along and shared with all who want to read it. Many had come up to me where ever I may have been reading it, as well as the rest of the series (all twelve) and ask, “What it is you are reading that is bringing you to tears or elation or anger...”

Anonymous said...

Stacia Kane or Brian Keene

Hillsy said...

Oh, and also I wouldn't want someone to strike up a conversation with the person next to me, either.

I'm reading. The last thing I want is the constant irritation and distraction of a conversation going on in my left ear between two people squeeing over how brilliant Cormac McCarthy is.

See this is the problem with civilisation: people!

Laura Drake said...

South of Broad by Pat Conroy.
Or anything by him, for that matter.

Sarah said...

Just now I've got "Smile or Die" on the table next to me and would love to talk to someone else who's reading it. I wouldn't bother anyone while they were reading though - I've been engrossed in a book and had people interrupt me, not about the book but because they wanted to talk and thought that reading = doing nothing.
I might well smile at a reader, though, especially if it's a book I know and like.
I was once on a boat trip in the Panama Canal surrounded by a group of people who all knew each other and were all discussing The Da Vinci Code, which hadn't then been published in my country. I understood enough from what I overheard to know that a) it would be a massive best-seller and b) I would hate it.

RK said...

Easy! Hunger Games...I've already been talking to stranger and non-strangers about this :)

Karen Carr said...

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

'nuff said.

Heather said...

Lachlan's War by Michael Cannon or Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

wonderactivist said...

I work part-time in a bookstore--kinda gets it out of my system--so I rarely talk about books with strangers elsewhere. If I saw someone reading Slapstick by Vonnegut or anything by Chandler, well, I would HAVE to talk to them.

Debbie said...

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read it the first time when I was 15 and have read it twice since. Each time, I got something different from it.

You know who said...

"Insomnia" by Stephen King. I don't know anyone who has read it. I'm making my boyfriend read it just so I can talk to him about it.

R. A. Mare said...

anything by Ayn Rand.

Malia Sutton said...

Lady Chatterly's Lover

RealMuse said...

I would talk to some one reading 'Stranger in a Strange Land'

I read this book when I was eight years old and was deeply impressed.

Tart and Soul said...

"Seven Types of Ambiguity" by Eliot Perlman, an Australian writer/barister. The book is sexy, brilliant, heartbreaking. I fell in love with the protagonist, when the book was over, it felt like a divorce. No one's ever heard of it, thus, I would be friends forever for anyone who had.

Art Rosch said...

This comments section is a fantastic book list. As to the question, if I see anyone reading a book on a train,
and I can determine that it's not trash, I'm likely to strike up a conversation purely on the basis of
reading itself. There are SO many books! A book by Don DeLillo, Jack Vance, Philip K. Dick, a copy of Infinite Jest, those will get me talking.

Hart Johnson said...

I have VERY close friends from all over the world because of Harry Potter. I STILL talk to people I see reading those books. A Potter head is a Potter head is a Potter head, and I love them all.

Scooter Carlyle said...

Anything by Jim Butcher!

Anonymous said...

The first time I did it was for The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. Saw a woman in the bookstore dithering, and I told her she should buy it and read it, because all women needed to.

helen cho said...

Seven types of ambiguity WAS AWESOME!

Also, loved Zero History, and would definitely speak with anyone who was caught reading Tuck Everlasting or Odd John.

There's also a really strange Peter Carey book I liked.The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith.

Lastly, Lolly Willowes and Jakob von Guten. also, anyone reading cees nooteboom. Or...Logan's Run.
It's actually a fantastic read.

There are many other books I love - I'm just talking about the ones that would compel me to speak to someone because they're unusual or not well known (besides Zero History).

Maria Kenney said...

Middlesex would definitely be one of them, but the most conversation-worthy of them all for me would probably be some recent teen book. The Carrie Diaries comes to mind. Good question!

Sierra Godfrey said...

Full on -- anything by Gerald Durrell would stop me in my tracks. Especially his early Greek ones.

An Observer Of Souls said...

Dance of a Discident Daughter by Sue Kidd Monk would definitely prompt me to disturb the reader.

A Good Son...wow, what did you think of the psychology of cultures?

But anytime I see someone reading and they laugh outloud I want to ask them to read it to me.

J.M. Lacey said...

"The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton. Also, almost any classic literature, and a couple of non-fiction books I really enjoyed - "The Soloist" by Steve Lopez and "The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt. All of these books to me were interesting subjects and I could spend loads of time talking about them.

I feel kind of bad for the stranger now.

Anonymous said...

Mein Kampf. With your recent discussion on banned books, that one (while not banned) is a pretty hot-button book, and I'd be interested to hear why someone would be reading it.

Mizz Murphy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mizz Murphy said...

Kindred by Octavia Butler, The Time Traveler's Wife, anything by Margaret Atwood. People don't really know what to do when I lean in and blurt, "You are just SO lucky!"

Bree D said...

If you're holding a book, and it doesn't have a ripped bodice on the front, you're fair game. Books are my second favorite topic--after music, but it's much harder to check out someone's ipod.

Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog said...

Anything by John Irving. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

S.A.Hussey said...

Songmaster by Orson Scott Card (or any book by him).

Lorelei said...

I'd talk to anyone reading The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao about their take on fuku and I'd talk with anyone reading White Tiger about blame or no blame for this murderous mischievous guy.

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