The 5 Stages of Recommending a Book to a Friend Who Will Never Read It

This is a guest post from Corin Balkovek. As a child, Corin tried to find ways to look busy when she was actually reading a book. She still does that, but as a librarian, she has more luck pulling it off.


Though I am as stereotypically bookish as a person can be (she types while wearing one of her pairs of book-themed socks she has received for birthdays, Christmas, and other gift-giving occasions), many of my friends just aren’t readers. Which I accept but don’t totally understand, much like I do with people who like to go on long, extended backpacking trips (so I have to haul everything I’ll need in with me, and then haul my own poop out in a bag? Nothankyouverymuch.) And as a lover of books and stories, I just want to share them with the people who are close to me, which means I’m often recommending books to people who will never, ever, never read the book. And I know that. But, I do it anyway. And much like the tragedies of life, these situations play out in a typical fashion:

Denial

Even though you’ve never seen them read a book, even though their bookcases at home only hold a small handful of books, most of which are either cookbooks or outdated travel guides from that one summer they vacationed in Bali or whatever, even though you know they haven’t read a book until they were assigned one in school, YOU KNOW they will love this book. It’s just so like them! It talks about all of their favorite things and in such a cool way that you almost want to memorize the better lines and then roll them out into your conversations with your friend so they think that you are both witty and deep, but don’t because you will mess it up and sound stupid and/or insane, or you are dedicated to being your most honest self. And maybe they don’t read because they haven’t found That Book yet, the one that will change their life. AND THIS IS TOTALLY THAT BOOK. I mean, it’s almost your duty to tell them about it: if you met the person who was their soulmate, you would be bound by friendship to tell them about it. WHAT IF THIS BOOK IS THEIR SOULMATE IN PAPER FORM?

It’s not being annoying, it’s destiny.

Text/email/handwritten note (lolololol, what?) with link to the book sent.

Anger

…Well, that response was underwhelming. Just a “cool, thx”? Do they think I’m just handing these recommendations out like tiny portions of lunch meat during sample day at Costco? I put real thought into this! I even summarized this one passage and connected it to a conversation we had that one time. THAT’S CALLED SYNTHESIS, DUDE, IT’S A MAJOR PART OF CRITICAL THINKING. That text/email/handwritten note (hahahahaha, yeah right) is practically an English lit essay in miniature form. I bet they didn’t even click on the link. Jerk.

Bargaining

What if I stop into the bookstore and just make sure that they have a copy, and then let them know it’s there.

Their birthday is seven and half months away, I should just buy it and it can be an early gift!

Maybe next time we are out and they go to the bathroom, I can sneak into their bag, find their library card, copy down the number, go to the library’s website, log in as them, and request the book be held for them so when they get the email they’ll go down to the library and be all “whaaa?” and then I can be all “SURPRISE!”

(That’s not weird, right?)

Depression

Maaaaaaaan, I’m never going to geek out about this book with someone in real life.

*gets on the internet*

*finds book/reader-centric websites*

*spends most of the afternoon reading reviews and discussion about book, responding to them in my head*

Acceptance

Ok, FINE. I’ll stop asking if you’ve read it. But you better stop asking if I’m going camping with you guys next month because girl, you know I’m not.

Of course, sometimes, THEY ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK. Oh, glorious day! And when this happens, you get a special bonus stage:

Smugness

They text/email/send handwritten notes (ahahahahaha, c’mon now) as they work their way through the book, telling you their favorite parts, quoting the best lines. And sometimes, sometimes, they drop a “dude, I love this book!” And that when you get to say BITCH I TOLD YOU SO “Oh, I’m so glad you liked it” and order up a pair of book socks for them. After all, their birthday is coming up.

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Corin Balkovek: As a child, Corin tried to find ways to look busy when she was actually reading a book. She still does that, but as a librarian, she has more luck pulling it off.