Saturday, September 04, 2010

On reading in public

Since this week ended up being all about reading, I thought I'd talk about reading in public places. As you can probably guess from my post about places I've read, I do not hesitate to read in public. I also do not hesitate to laugh aloud or cry real tears if a book affects me when I'm reading, whether I'm in public or not. This means that I was both cackling and crying on an airplane while reading The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett and rolling with laughter at parts of An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. And that I had tears dripping from my chin (also on an airplane) while reading John Green's Looking for Alaska. (I read John's books on the way to and from LA for the SCBWI conference I attended a couple of summers ago.)

I've chortled and/or cried while seated alone at restaurant tables, or on a bench somewhere, or while using public transportation. I've sat amazed (and quite possibly with my mouth hanging open in awe) in any number of public places as well.

My ability to block out the rest of the world while reading is part of the reason I'm able to respond to books emotionally even if I'm in public, but it's not the whole story. The other part is that I frankly don't care what strangers think of me if I'm obviously reading something. I assume they will think I'm laughing or crying (or slack-jawed) about something I've read, just as I would think that of anyone I saw behaving in such a way when reading.

But it came to my attention last month that not everyone behaves the same way: When M was leaving to visit my parents in Arizona, she was quite determined not to take anything that would cause her to laugh aloud while on the plane. (For the record, M has an entirely infectious laugh, and she can get going pretty well when reading, say, one of the Georgia Nicholson books by Louise Rennison, such as the recent Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?.) I may have sent her off with the new edition of Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (the one with the tattoo-inspired cover) in hopes that she might get the giggles anyhow, but she said she managed not to laugh aloud. (Foiled again!)

How about you - do you laugh/cry/throw your book in public? Or do you read stoically if you have an audience?

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