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How to Make Friends and Add to Your TBR Pile

Christina M. Rau

Staff Writer

Christina M. Rau is the author of the sci-fi fem poetry collection, Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press, 2017), and the chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). In her non-writing life, she teaches yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions.

How often does this happen to you: you’re out in public, you see someone reading a book, and you identify that person as automatically your friend! You read, they read, and everyone who reads is a friend!


Just me? Fine. There’s more to this confession.

As an introvert and book lover, I also won’t approach this friend to ask what they’re reading. Universe forbid I should interact! Instead, I do what any normal socially adjusted adult would do—I find covert ways to find out what book they’re reading.

Want to join in the socially awkward making friends fun? Here’s how.

Option 1: Get Low and Look Up

Usually, I’m on the subway when I find new book friends. I’m much shorter than most commuters, so I simply look up and see the front cover of the book. Not short? Or maybe your new friend is sitting? Then duck down to adjust your shoes in some way, and then look up.


Option 2: Get High and Look Down

I just realized that “get high” is probably not the best terminology, but since I mean it literally, I’m sticking with it. Let’s say you see a reader on a bench in a park. You can easily find out what they’re reading by walking by and then pausing as you pass them. This way probably will not work if the reader is lying out on the ground, but for a bench or chair, it certainly will.


Option 3: Get Tech Enhanced

Someone is reading quite a ways away from you. Take out your phone, open your camera, pretend to take a selfie, and instead zoom in on that book. You’ll need a good zooming camera if the book is far; otherwise, it’ll simply be mystery pixels (which makes a good band name but not a title for your to-read pile).


Option 4: Wait Long Enough

This option may take some time. However, people eventually move. If they have to get off the bus at the next stop, they’ll close their book, and you’ll see the cover. If they’ve been basking poolside in the sun, eventually they’ll take a dip. You’ll see the cover as they close up, or you can take a gander at what they’ve left on their lounge chair when they’re swimming laps.


Option 5: Stare

You know how you get the feeling when someone is staring at you? So, like, if you stare at someone who’s reading, they might get that feeling and turn away at an angle that lets you see their book. They also may look up and see you staring at them, and then you’re locked eye-to-eye in a battle of awkwardness. You know what—don’t stare. It’s rude and weird. Forget this option.


Option 6: Over The Shoulder Realness

If you manage to be in a packed train car, there’s no way you’re seeing the cover of a book. You may, however, see the inside pages over someone’s shoulder. Go ahead and read right along. Lots of books have headers on each page that say the author’s name and the book or chapter title. It’s a keen way to see if you actually like the writing before adding the book to your list based on only the title. This method seems like it also works for passing behind readers who are lounging on the beach or lying on a picnic blanket, but it does not. Lingering in these moments is creepy. This works only on commutes where being jammed next to someone is not your fault.


In most of these cases, you are taking time out from reading your own book to see what others are reading. And that means if you keep your eagle-eyes peeled, you might see someone trying to check out what you’re reading, too.

As book friends, we should all make a pact to hold our books high and clear so that all these time and energy draining efforts can fall by the wayside.

Or I could revert to, “Hey, can I get the title of that book?” Then a conversation about reading strikes up and everyone’s a lot happier with all these reading vibes in a vast network of book friends wherever we go.

You let me know how that goes.

And if you have more ways to get your silent reading recs from strangers, drop a suggestion in the comments.