Welcome to the Dear Book Nerd podcast, a bi-weekly show that answers your questions about life, love, and literature! My special guest co-host this week is the great Sam Sykes. Sam and I discuss three listener-submitted questions and (try to) give advice about topics such as: how do I, an introvert, approach someone who I want to be bookish friends with? Where are some places to meet people who love to read? How do I make talking about books in mixed company NOT awkward? And much, much more. Have a listen!
Sam Sykes is an author of fantasy fiction, including Tome of the Undergates, Black Halo, and The Skybound Sea (which are part of The Aeon’s Gate series), as well as the forthcoming The City Stained Red. You can find him on Twitter @SamSykesSwears.
Dear Book Nerd,
Like many book-lovers I know, I am an introvert. I love the internet because it has allowed me to make many bookish friends from the comfort and safety of my own couch or office chair. I’m outgoing online, but I’m kind of shy and awkward in “real” life. I especially struggle when it comes to making friends with other shy and awkward people when I don’t have the mitigating protection of a computer screen.
I’m a data analyst for a large internet company, which is a rather isolated role, and I don’t know many other people who work in my building or have much opportunity to interact with them. However, there is one girl that I see walking to and from our company’s cafe every day. She’s always reading while she walks – something I’ve never seen anyone (aside from myself) doing. I really want to talk to her, but I don’t know how to meet her or start a conversation. I know how annoying it is to be interrupted while you’re reading. Perhaps there is some type of book nerd sign I am not privy to, like bumping my book spine against hers as we pass each other? Waving my bookmark in the air like I just don’t care? Pushing my glasses up on my nose with a flourish?
Please help! I’m pretty sure her and I are destined to be great friends with lots of great books to talk about if I could just figure out how to say hi.
Dear Book Nerd,
I am having trouble finding people in real life to talk about books with. I have gone through all sorts of awkward conversational contortions to ask a person if they read books, or if they’ve read the books that I’ve read, and this usually leads to two things 1) no, they tend not to read books and
2) there is a rather uncomfortable lull in the conversation afterwards (once someone told me that they thought The Turn of the Screw sounded like an “adult movie”…). There are so many times that I want to geek out about a book or compare a situation to something in a book, which, if I don’t have a fellow book nerd, this usually leads to a long explanation of the book (leading to more awkward). So this is a two-parter:
1) How can I suss out whether or not someone is a reader, without being awkward?
and 2) Where can I find real life fellow book nerds?
Dear Book Nerd,
First, I wanted to say that I only recently found the show and I love it so much that I sped through every episode in the space of two days! Keep up the great work!
I have been a voracious reader for a very long time, and when I was young it was an entirely solo activity. During my undergrad, however, I had the good fortune to end up living down the hall from a group of fellow book nerds, and we had a fantastic time getting to know each other, even though our reading tastes were drastically different.
Since we graduated, we have scattered to various locations across the country, and while we try to keep in touch, it’s not the same. For a while, I filled the gap of bookish friends through a book blog, but I recently went back to school and it became far too stressful and guilt-inducing to keep it up (and we all know your opinions on book-guilt-inducing-things!). To make matters worse, I had to move for school and am (as many book nerds are) more likely to stay in my apartment reading in my minimal free time than go out somewhere.
Lately, though, I’ve really been missing my bookish friends. I’ve considered joining a book club, but with the amount of required reading and other work for my degree, I’m concerned that I would not be able to finish the books and contribute to the discussion. I barely read two or three books for myself each semester, and being “assigned” books to read (even if they’re ones I’m really interested in) tends to make me want to read them even less. Do you have any other suggestions for finding bookish friends? Thank you!
– Bookish and Lonely
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