Sunday, March 01, 2009

Conversations About Books

Yesterday had two book highlights for me and none of them things that I was reading they were both conversations one of which I was a part of another was one I overheard. A fellow book lover came round for coffee and to do a tour of the local second hand book stores in the afternoon, which on a cloudy Saturday was perfect. Now I have banged on and on about the shop up the road that has five books for £2 which is just ridiculous really partly because it’s such a good offer and partly because it doesn’t help my ‘must not buy any more books at the moment’ habit. This was successfully once more broken today when I picked up another five gems. Four are pictured one was for my guest as a treat (Little Face by Sophie Hannah) and she’s taken it so it’s not included.

When I got to the till to pay for my treats, I have had a really bad last week honest and this was much needed, the lady said ‘now love if you come back next week and there aren’t any books don’t worry’ I wondered if the look of terror had briefly flickered across my face, was my favourite cheap thrill book store closing? ‘It’s just that we have too many here and there are beds and sofas to climb over to get to them. What we have decided to do is open a store across the road which is just for books. Oh we’ve some lovely sofas where people can sit and flick through the books before they buy. We might even put in a coffee machine.’ Well after the relief I suddenly realised that a little slice of heaven is opening only yards away. The thought ‘I wont ever leave’ flitted through my head and as if reading my mind she said ‘I thought I would tell you as you’re here so regularly’. As nice as this was I do now have a slight complex about the fact the local second hand book store lady sees me as a regular, she must think I am a book maniac… well she might be right.

The conversation I heard however was on the tube. I took the Non Reader to see ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ which is on tour and afterwards on the way home I couldn’t help over hear (as they were talking very loudly and a little merrily) two friend’s one male one female and their conversation which suddenly turned to books. He asked her what she was reading to which she replied ‘The Journey or something’ only to then pull out The Return by Victoria Hislop a book that I have to admit I have quite fancied reading. She explained it was ‘about the civil war in Spain, I was going to give it to my mum but its very sad and she’ll probably cry, so I think best not, what about you?’ He suddenly produced the most delightful 60’s copy of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which he’d ‘just finished today actually, its dead good, a classic, everyone knows it’ sadly she didn’t but he gave it to her. I almost had to stop myself from reaching across and snapping it out her clutches for the delightful old cover alone.

This latter conversation made me think, on the walk home from the station that I should partake a study of what people are reading on the tube. I work from home normally but have lots and lots of trips to town in the next seven days, and a train journey to Manchester and back next weekend, so ample opportunity. If someone is reading something devotedly on the tube and I can’t see what it is it drives me to distraction. I will tell you some of the slightly strange lengths I have gone to discover just what book it is when I report back next weekend. Here’s a picture I found of a book group on the tube… how odd! I have never seen this before but when the final Harry Potter came out I entered a carriage once and all you could see was that book open in front of everyone’s faces, no word of a lie. I wonder what insights this week will produce.
What books have you seen people reading on public transport or overheard people discussing and snapped up... and if so were they any good?


Anonymous said...

Love that photo!
I'm like you in that if I see somebody reading a book I have to know what it is they're reading. I can't wait to hear what lengths you go to in order to find out. Really love your blog BTW.

StuckInABook said...

I. Am. So. Jealous!
I want that bookshop.

I always vowed that I'd talk to someone on public transport if I saw them reading a Persephone book - has only happened once, but the woman (about 25?) reading it looked so miserable and cross that I thought it couldn't have been an especially pleasant read for her... I was proud (and slightly ashamed) that I recognised the book by its endpaper - it was The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Which is great.

Juxtabook said...

I would have loved that bookshop before I became a dealer, now, pathetically I find myself worrying about their profit margins! Sad. Though there is something to be said for fast turn over and it is obviously working for them or they wouldn't open another shop.