Strand speed dating for book lovers


Does the fact that it’s such a cliché notion and such a common trope in rom-coms (Notting Hill, When Harry Met Sally, etc.) make the fantasy cheesier…or likelier to actually happen?I’ll admit to sampling titles in The Strand, peering intently, almost seductively, above the pages, hoping to lock eyes with another browser.“Richard Parker,” I think, invoking the Bengal tiger that’s stranded with Pi on a boat in the Pacific. I’ll have a son named Pi and a cat named Richard Parker.I’ll dress them up and put them in a bathtub together and recreate the entire novel.”Maybe I’m the only one who’d consider exploiting my child and my pet for the sake of some literary cosplay.But I think that all bibliophiles go to great lengths incorporating books into our lives.That’s because books are central to our identities and to our relationships.Books help make us who we are—which, at times, is idiosyncratic, obsessive, or just plain weird.I’ll prove it to you: Here are seven strange things only a lit-lover would do, you and I likely included.


I’ve even sent a longing gaze—like Cupid’s arrow—towards a salesperson as she files books on a high shelf, her step-ladder a convenient metaphor for the figurative pedestal on which I’ve placed her. It’s partially out of courtesy, partially in the name of hygiene and, let’s be honest, mostly an act of pure reflex that you lift your book to mask your face, one involuntary reaction responding to another.

I’m a purist in this regard, which means each book is paired with a bookmark displaying the name of the bookstore from which it was purchased.

I collect these bookmarks like passport stamps or ski lift tickets; you know just how many times I’ve patronized Mc Nally Jackson or Book Book or Spoonbill & Sugartown.

Other readers, meanwhile, scavenge and repurpose random items as bookmarks, either out of resourcefulness or deference. The invitation described “A night of speed dating for those who’d rather be judged by their book cover” and asked us to “bring a book to break the ice and meet other readers.” I arrived at Housing Works bookstore feeling hopeful and toting Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.

Good news is, a novel is more effective than a hand or a sleeve, and its pages won’t mind a light mist of saliva or even a torrent of snot—at least not as much as your fellow commuters will.By reading on the train or the plane, whether in cold season or allergy season (which I think cover all the seasons? Of Mice and Men might be tiny, but it’s the first line of defense in the battle for public health.


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