Hey Stranger! I Like Books!

I love talking to strangers about books.

I struggle with this. I won’t lie. I want to be cautious and sensitive about people’s personal space and the fact that not everybody wants to talk or is as outgoing is me. But I’m not going to lie...every time I’m in the library or the bookstore and see someone holding a book I have read/heard about my body shakes like an excited dog and out of my mouth wants to escape a “HEY! I LOVE THAT BOOK. BUY IT” or “So you are also an adult who loves YA?? ME TOO!!” I guess that last one is awkward if they are buying it for like their teen daughter or something haha.

I don’t want to be creepy but I want to talk to you about books. You instantly gain points as a human if you are in the library or the bookstore. And I just get too ridiculously excited about books and making people read books and talking about books I loved. Sidenote: You, guessed it, I’m a very social person when it comes to books. Probably that annoying person who you just want to go away so you can continue browsing.

I’ve had good experiences with this personally.  I was at a used book sale  once and a lady started chatting me up and we became very friendly and tossing books to each other as we browsed through all the boxes of book. It was enjoyable and nice to connect with someone over something. I’ve had really nice people in bookstores encourage me to buy a book that was in my hands and tell me what they loved about it.

I don’t even mind when someone sees me reading on a train or something and says, “Oh I loved that book!” I mean, I might not want to have a full on conversation depending on the day and my mood but sometimes I like a nice little chat. Other times I just want to get back to said book. Most bookworms do understand both though I think?  I DOOOO hate when random people comment on what I’m reading. I’ve been hit on two times while reading and it was so painfully obvious they didn’t care about the book. The one time, after BEA, I was on the train and was only like obviously 2 pages into the book and the guy just kept asking me about it even though I was like, “I just started it. I have no opinions.” That makes me explode and not in a good way.

There’s also the other kind of encounters over books that result in a friendship or a bonding experience that I LOVE. Years ago I was at a party for Will’s mom’s engagement and I knew only a handful of people. Will’s mom introduced me to a relative of her fiance’s (hi Jenny!!) and basically was like, “Hey you both love to read.” I got talking to her and found out that she also loved YA and we chattered excitedly pretty much the rest of the party and both went away with a crap ton of recommendations. It was such an awesome way to connect with somebody over something we both loved and honestly it made the party WAY more fun for me.

I just love how books can make us connect to strangers or people we are introduced to. Obviously it’s like any mutual interest but there’s just something so easy about talking books with someone you barely know and I feel like I get to know them so much more by learning their favorite books or what they hated or how a book resonated with them.

I mean, even with the internet and this blogging things, look at how strangers have become some of my closest friends and I’ve been able to bare some of the deepest and most honest parts of myself with ease whether I’m talking about why I read books dealing with grief so much or books  that encourage me to LIVE or insecurities. All because of books. I’ve become a more honest person who sees the world with different eyes all the time.


Let’s Talk:

What about you? Do you talk to strangers about books when you see them in the bookstore/library or reading in public? Have you ever made a connection with a stranger in a social situation and bonded over books? Does it BOTHER you or do you LIKE when strangers talk to YOUUUU about books?
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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Okay so I have to tell you about two instances that happened recently while I was at a bookstore (same store, different days) The first time, this lady was in her twenties (I think) and she was holding books by Katie McGarry and books by JLA. She clearly couldn’t decide which ones to go with. I boldly went up to her and basically said “Katie McGarry is a goddess. Read her books. You will not be sorry” I think this poor girl was a bit taken aback by my boldness but she thanked me and headed to the checkstand with all three of Katie McGarry’s titles.

    About a week and a half later, I was back at the bookstore looking for a birthday gift for my younger sister when I saw this girl pacing up and down the aisle. She clearly was torn between books.She didn’t have any in her hands yet so I went over to her and asked what she was looking for, and she looked at me and said “I need a really good YA tearjerker.” After hearing that, I grabbed my favorite read of 2013, which was The Program by Suzanne Young and handed it to her. I said “Read this, you will love it.” She thanked me and headed off to the checkstand.

    It really depends on the situation. Like if I am on a bus and I’m reading, I generally don’t want to be bothered. But I won’t be rude about it. But if I am in a doctor’s office or something and someone asks me about the book I’m reading, I’ll totally talk to them about it.

  2. It’s so funny that you mention this as I was just talking about this topic on Twitter the other day! I’m definitely the sort of girl who will offer unsolicited advice to strangers about what they should read next. The funny thing is, I’m typically an anxious introvert, but when I’m in a bookstore and I see someone else browsing in the young adult section, I can hardly keep my excitement and opinions to myself. Young adult literature is one of the things I’m most passionate about, and I just want to share that passion with everyone. If a book has touched or inspired me me, I want to tell the world about it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve pressed Golden, Fangirl and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour into the hand of unsuspecting shoppers in my local bookstore. And, as you mentioned, this isn’t limited to bookstores, either! I love exchanging book recommendations at parties and family gatherings as well, and have been known to get into more than one passionate exchange when someone has dismissed the young adult genre as ‘just for kids’ (An opinion which is ordinarily based on little, if any, personal experience). One of my favourite aspects of book blogging thus far has also been receiving recommendations from other bloggers about books that I need to read. I’ve been introduced to an innumerable number of books I might not otherwise have discovered, and I’m so thankful for that. Books have the ability to bring people closer together, and when you discover something you love, I think it’s only natural to want to share that with others.

  3. I wish I was as brave as you! Every time I go to Barnes and Noble or to the book section at Target, I really want to talk to people at the young adult aisle what books they want to get, or just have a bookish conversation with them. BUT, I always feel scared. I fear that they’re going to look at me weird and go away… Also, I always want to ask those people if they are also book bloggers lol!

    I’ve never actually talked to any strangers before at a store about books. I love it though when a stranger makes a conversation with me about books! It’s sooo easy talking about something that you love ehem books ehem.

  4. Usually I go back and forth in my head like a million times debating whether I should say something but typically I will offer up unsolicited book recommendations. Sometimes if I’m stuck and can’t make up my mind, I’ll try and get the staff to help me. But in places like Barnes & Noble, it’s a shot in the dark for someone who actually enjoys books and can help me narrow down my to-buy pile. This blows me away because growing up, all I wanted to do was have my first job, and many more, be surrounded books in any capacity, including a bookstore clerk. So when I find staff that don’t know anything about the books I might buy, even that they’ve heard of it at least, I’m sort of taken aback. As someone like myself, whose passion is books and their stories, I can’t imagine anyone taking a job, surrounded by these most prized possessions (in my mind) and not caring enough to make opinions or do a little research to stay informed.

  5. I wish I were as confident as you Jamie! I get super scared and super shy when I spot someone reading a book I’ve previously loved. I would just stare at them and make little side comments in my head as they turn the pages… I feel like such a stalker lol! I have never tried to chat up some random person over books. I just don’t have the guts to do that, even if they are the ones starting the conversation!

    When someone tries to talk to me about what I’m reading when I’m reading, I usually get pissed off, especially when I’m really engrossed in the novel. Sure, I’d love, love, love to talk about it, but I would want the said person to at least wait for me to put the book down or ask politely about what I’m reading. If that person were to be all, “OMG I READ THAT BOOK IT WAS AWESOME!” right at my face I just might whack this person in the head lol. I would prefer if they, say, tapped my shoulder and asked first, but that’s just me. 🙂

  6. I want to do this every time I’m in a bookstore! Especially if I see someone holding a book I have read and loved, I just want to encourage them to read it. Or strike up a conversation about books. But in the end I never do it. I always chicken out. I’m not a shy person, but I just always assume those people don’t want to hear my opinion so I don’t. Maybe SOME DAY I will try this, because I would not be bothered if someone did that to me. I would love it if someone would recommend a book I was looking at in the store.

  7. I am avery shy person so I do not normally approach strangers. There was this girl in a second hand bookstore where I frequently visit and she picked up a copy of the book Stargirl and I have not read that book yet and I regret not picking it up first. I badly want that book but I cant do anything because she got it first so I followed her around the bookstore, hoping that she would change her mind and she’d return the book to te shelves. She probably noticed me following her around and she got creeped out LOL. I think that was the closest thing I got to being social about books.

  8. I LOVE talking books with people. I’m much more comfortable doing it online, though. I have had a few. . .really awkward moments in the library. I know that not everyone is that way, though. But if the person is genuine and really wants to talk books? That’s just awesome. Technically my boss reads some YA and I find that exceptionally amazing. I haven’t mentioned that I blog to him yet (you know, just in case we have too many differing opinions on books), but maybe someday. We don’t get much time to talk, but he asks what I’m reading from time to time or he’ll give me recommendations. It’s pretty cool! Most of the people I know off of the computer could care less about YA, though.

  9. I must admit that I’ve never just gone up to someone and said: “You should definitely buy that book; it has it all …” and go on about why they should buy it. Although I have been approached in the romance and YA section of my local Chapters/Indigo store and have been asked if this would be good for a person who likes A, B & C. THEN I’ll go on and on and on 😛 Usually they mistake me for an employee cause I’m either standing there staring at all the lovelies or have arms full of books, lol but I don’t mind people just walking up and asking. I feel a little more comfortable when they do that. Although I should just walk up to people and start yammering on about the latest YA they have in their hand, I could make a new friend that way (: Just gotta get past the initial “I don’t know you but hey that’s a kick ass book you’re about to purchase” lol!

  10. I need to channel your social abilities! I see lots of bookworms my age at our local book shop and when they’re checking out a title I had loved before I just want to run over to them and tell them to buy it! I always swallow down that urge though because I’m way too shy to come up to anybody. 🙁

  11. Oh my gosh, I always want to talk to people about books! If I see someone reading, I try to figure out WHAT they’re reading and if it’s something good, then I want to go talk to them about it. I’m only really confident telling people something is good when I’m at the bookstore. Though, I did point out a really good book at Costco once and me and the lady got into a big conversation about good books. It was great! This is one of the reasons I loved working at the library … I could easily talk to people about books and they wouldn’t think I was being creepy!

  12. I love to talk about books so much and I swear I can work it into any conversation. I think that is the main reason I blog is because I talk about books so much people are annoyed with me!

  13. I’m totally like you, Jamie. I have gone up to total strangers in bookstores and helped them choose books. Worse, I saw a girl at a hotel this fall who was obviously waiting for her parents and obviously really into Eleanor and Park and I went right up to her and said, “Isn’t that book awesome?” She was actually super nice about it, but afterwards, I thought to myself, “She was really absorbed in the book, maybe I shouldn’t have said anything?” But I seriously can’t help myself. I love to talk to anyone about books, what I’m reading, what they’re reading, why I love or hate a book…and I’m not shy. I feel like having a blog has made me better about book recommendations and talking about books, so I just do it.

    (I also do this with clothes and even groceries – I’m basically a person who loves giving recommendations)

  14. Oh gods yes, I do this ALL the time. And people usually get a bit creeped out. (Oops.)
    But sometimes it makes for REALLY amazing connections. (That’s how I met one of my (now) best friends!)
    I don’t usually mind being disturbed while I’m reading. Especially if the person really enjoyed the book, it makes for great conversation.

  15. It wasn’t a book, but pretty similar. I was at the library, looking at DVDs to borrow, and I saw someone pick up a DVD that my boyfriend and I had watched and wished we could unwatch. I told her that one is really bad, don’t get it, and we both kind of laughed about it. I think she was happy for the advice. 🙂

  16. I LOVE books. LOVE talking books. LOVE talking books with strangers especially because I know their opinions aren’t going to be swayed by what they know of me. Such a great way to discover new books and authors.

  17. I can’t stand it if someone is reading and I can’t tell what book it is. I’m always craning my neck to see if I recognize the cover. And, eBook readers, well, they’re the devil! I try not to interrupt, but sometimes I just have to say something. Especially if it’s a teen. I want to know what they think!

  18. This is probably my favorite thing about being a bookseller: talking to strangers about books! I can meander down aisles and share my love for YA (and MG) with customers all day long. I really enjoy that aspect of the job, sharing YA and getting suggestions from YA lovers!

  19. I’m an introvert but recently I’ve noticed myself talking to strangers about books and it feels amazing. I love the rapport that’s built and the feeling of finding someone who has the same taste in books as me. I love exchanging book recommendations with people, especially friends because I get to discover books I don’t know about.

    Sometimes though, I find myself getting annoyed at random conversations people try to strike up with me when I’m browsing the bookstore, though. If I’m engrossed in a book, I find it’s really hard to have a conversation with people, regardless if they’re my friends or not. I think for me, I can have conversations with people who aren’t reading but are carrying books.

  20. I struggle with social anxiety, so it’s not all that easy for me to talk to stranger. Still, seeing someone reading a book I enjoyed, are some of the times I get most frustrated with myself that socializing isn’t easier for me. I’ll stand there trying to force myself to say something to them about it because I want to talk about it. Most of the time I can’t though. Now, if someone else starts a conversation with me about books, then I’m all for it. It may be a little awkward on my end, but I’m absolutely thrilled to talk to them.

  21. Oh my gosh, I am totally the same way. I love how you describe it…I am like an overexcited puppy who just wants to tell that person that that book they have in their hands was one of my favourite books of life! I haven’t had any really bad experiences but I also haven’t had really great ones. Most people are just like, “Oh yeah? Hmm…good to know. Thanks.” and they move on. It’s even harder for me now because I worked in a bookstore for so long and recommending books in the store was part of my job! I don’t really mind if I’m reading a book somewhere, especially when I’m clearly killing time, and someone asks what I’m reading. And I think you’re right – most bookworms would understand if you want to get back into the book. Always tricky though! I just wish all bookworms would speak up because almost all of us LOVE talking about books! Great post, as always. 🙂

  22. Haha. I know exactly how you feel about wanting to talk to people you don’t know about books. As a librarian, I do get to talk to books with strangers a little more than someone who doesn’t work in that area. But still, I feel like I have to control myself. When a teen asks me if we have a book, I have to control my excitement if it’s a book that I loved. Or just when I’m asked to recommend books to someone, I have to not take it to heart if that person decided not to borrow one of my favorite books.

    And when I’m out and about, and I see people reading, my eyes are always drawn to the book. I just can’t help it. I want to know what EVERYONE is reading, even if it isn’t a book I have any desire to read.

  23. Maybe I’m the odd man out, but conversations with strangers make me uncomfortable… yes, even if it’s about books. That said, I’d be much more open to it if I were browsing in a bookstore or library than if I were reading. If I’m reading, I really don’t want to be interrupted.

    I have had the situation of meeting a friend of a friend, and our mutual friend being like, “You both like books – GO!” Unfortunately I’ve also had this turns awkward because we didn’t have any overlap at all (and both of us lacking the social capacity to make it not awkward). For the most part, though, I like books as a possible conversation topic if I’m at a party or somewhere where I’m going to have to socialize, more so than random encounters.

  24. When I see someone reading something I had read, I want to ask them how they feel about the book. I hate it when people spoil a book for me, so I don’t want to do that for them. When people love a book and I didn’t, I want to know what they saw in the book that I didn’t. I realize that people have different tastes but I also like to hear people talk about their books, hear their passion and see maybe if I missed something. Not that it will change my mind but just what made the book click for them. I have just started to talk to complete strangers about books. I used to be apprehensive about doing it but now I figure I have nothing to lose when discussing books with strangers and heck, I might even get a new friend. Most of the time, people like to talk about books unless they are in a hurry. I once was in thrift shop looking at the book section and I ran into a lady who was looking for books for her granddaughter who was homeschooled. She didn’t know exactly what books she was looking for so I was happy that I would help her. She usually shopped at discount store where they found books for her so I felt like her personal shopper. We got to talking and discussed books that she liked to read so it was fun afternoon talking to her. The people you can meet is amazing.

  25. I’ve tried doing this and you know, I’ve always gotten stares… especially at school. Academia has this shroud that ‘fiction’ is ‘bad’ unless it’s ‘literature’ or a ‘classic’. Sometimes I wanna talk about YA or that hot character I read about without being judged.

  26. I’m too much of an introvert to talk to strangers in the book store or library or the bus or anywhere else. But I love talking about books! And I’m an adult who loves YA.

  27. That is so brave of you! No matter how much I love books, I can’t seem to be able to get over my shyness.. The idea of approaching someone scared me, especially when I think that they will find me creepy or strange. Most people nowadays are just so unkind in their replies here, that it’s hard to take that step.

  28. I LOVE to talk about books anytime, in any way. Period. With just about anybody. The only time I don’t want to is if I’m wearing my earbuds which means BACK OFF, BUSTER. (That should be a universal rule, like the sign for choking, by the way.)

    Just two days ago, I think, a friend of mine that JUST started reading (like, she just read The Hunger Games series after seeing the movies and is HUNGRY for books) messaged me asking simply my thoughts on Divergent. THAT’S ALL SHE ASKED. Instead of just answering her question, I gave her this huge long list of all of the dystopian series that are completed that she could give a try and also the ones that have two books out and the third is almost out like T Mafi’s and some others. WHY DID I DO THAT? 1) I think I overwhelmed her, like when she was reading her hair was blowing backward and stuff. and 2) All she wanted was to know about Divergent. I laughed at myself. But secretly I want to message her and find out if she chose anything to read yet. But she isn’t a ‘book person’ so I’m gonna hold myself back a bit. She DID suggest a chips and salsa date to discuss The Hunger Games and I was all, yeah, that’s cool. But inside I was like BOOKS! BOOKS! BOOKS! CHIPS!! YAY!

    I tend to come on a little strong, so I’ve been told, where books are concerned. Heh heh. xo

  29. I have, unfortunately, had the opposite experience. You see, I live smack-bang between one really metropolitan city and one very conservative, very introverted city. I hang out in the former and work in the latter. And it’s led to ALL sorts of weirdnesses.

    In the former, I’ve had great times at book signings, literary festivals, author talks, meeting employees in bookstores and sometimes talking to fellow book-buyers (and, amusingly, seeming to end up in a lot of instances where we’re both standing there going: WHAT IS THAT TITLE?). I belong to several book groups and I take part in lots of different mini-readathons and things. My partner, myself and our group of friends are all book-nerds with really varied tastes and it’s fantastic fun.

    In the latter, I am surrounded by people. who. do. not. read. They are this strange alien race to which homosexuality and bisexuality is exotic and you’re weird if you don’t get drunk every weekend. Unfortunately, I have discovered in a lot of these people that the idea of reading to further yourself as a broadly formed human being is fairly repugnant. Most of them can’t contemplate the idea that they might spend an hour not watching TV and the idea that a novel might exist without a romantic storyline is unheard of. To these people, I don’t speak about books at all.

    It’s like living a weird double-life. I, too, am a huge extrovert and have no problems with being like, “Hey! Random person! Read this book!” and have one particular fellow-Potter nerd at work with me whom I can throw random recs at but otherwise I am a caped bookish crusader who only comes out of her shell at night and the weekend. 🙂

  30. I love talking to people about books! I find ways to work it into conversations because it’s what I’m truly passionate about. Some people don’t get it and I tend to back off when I can see that glassy-eyed look that tells me they stopped listening the second I said I like to read. But I have gone up to strangers in bookstores and recommended things and had full-on conversations with them. (My husband hates when I do this. Lol.)

    I am a book pusher though and I’m sure some people get annoyed. Sorry not sorry. I totally love when people come up to me and talk about books! (most of the time, unless I’m in the middle of an intense read) It’s just something I love talking about and I love meeting new people and finding common interests with them. 🙂

  31. This was really interesting! I am an introvert and hate when people ask me What book are you reading? Especially when they ask me what it’s about – I’m not good at explaining books and then if it’s like a YA novel or dystopian or something out there it just makes me feel silly explaining it! Especially if the person just asking for small talk and you can tell they aren’t readers. Have you seen Christine from polandbananasbooks youtube video called Book Scoffers? (if not definitely look it up, it’s funny) and shows pretty much how I feel about this topic! But that mostly applies to people that aren’t really readers. But on the other hand I love talking to people about books… when I’m first meeting someone I always ask if they like to read (and yes totally like them more if they like to read) I like asking what there favorites are for recommendations or if we have a book in common it’s fun to talk about. I love when I’m in a bookstore and I see people looking at books I liked or talking about books in general. I’m always curious to see what people are reading and always peek at their books (even though I hate when people do that with me, what’s wrong with me lol) But I hate that awkwardness though if you don’t like the book they talk about or recommend or you have never heard of it or they never heard of the book you are talking about. I don’t I feel like I’m all over the place with my response… but in general I think it just depends. Sometimes I just want to be left alone to read or browse – and sometimes I just love talking to books with people!

  32. I’m in this weird stage where reading is uncool. I can’t really talk to my friends about reading, though they know how obsessive I am over books. I don’t usually like talking to people about me because I’m overly conscious. I’m always judging myself on “omg this person doesn’t care what I have to say. Shut up nova!” so yeah.

    I only talk about my interests to people who share it.

    Great post, Jamie <3

  33. I have this same problem being a book nerd and a serious extrovert. I want to connect with people over my favorite books. It’s why I push my favorites on everyone so I’ll have someone to talk their ear off about it. I buy mostly e-books (3 kids do not give me time to browse bookstores) but I was recently in a brick and mortar and when I saw all my books, it was like looking at old friends. Then I saw new people seeing my old friends and I wanted to introduce them to each other so they could all know each others’ awesomeness. Then I realized that people might just want to be left alone too and I get like Anna in Frozen and I’m all “do you wanna build a snowman?” they say go away and I’m all “okay, bye”. I would probably have a mini-freakout if I found you or a kindred spirit like you in the bookstore though…so it’d be worth it to possibly do the extrovert walk of shame. TFS!

  34. I’ll talk to strangers about books at a book signing event, because I know they are there because they are like me. But otherwise I tend to leave people alone because I prefer to be left alone.

  35. Oh, I do this all the time!! Haha! Whenever I’m in B&N browsing and I see someone else looking at a book I just want to be like “OH that was SO GOOD” or, hey, read this one, you need to! Then I always feel awkward about it like, what if I scare them? haha. I usually go for it anyway. I love book talking with people! However, I don’t like when random people interrupt me when I’m reading so I don’t do that to other people. =)

  36. I love this post!! This is so absolutely, completely, totally, 100% me! The thing that makes it easier for me is that I *work* in a bookstore, so it’s not as hard to find the courage to tell a browsing customer, “Hey, that book is incredible, you should buy it right now! No, yesterday!”

    The thing that does occasionally get awkward (and I hope I’m not the only one that does this!) is the eavesdropping I accidentally do as a bookseller. Someone can walk by, talking with a friend, not even making eye contact with me, and I hear them mention what a pretty cover a certain book has. All of a sudden I’m springing out of the stacks telling them how wonderful that book is, and what it’s about, and why they’ll love it, and I’m just bursting with joy, and they’re all, “Oh. Hey. Where’d you come from, again?” Haha!

  37. I’m nowhere near as confident or outgoing as you are, but I do occasionally tell people at bookstores when I think they should get the book that they’re considering on the shelf. Other than that, my bonding experiences with strangers of books have fallen into the aspects of bloggers and family friends I meet in real life. I do get a lot of people asking me what I’m reading when I’m on the subway though! I always get a kick out of that. I don’t mind talking to people about books, because I love them that much 😉

  38. I’m not exactly SHY but I don’t like strangers coming up and talking to me. After reading this post, I’m a little more open to it, because like you said, books are pretty much the best conversation starter.
    But I get scared… D:
    And sometimes I feel this pressure to be really well-read so I end up lying that I read a book when I hadn’t. xD

  39. OMG yes! Every time I see someone reading in public I want to plop down beside them and ask what they’re reading and how they like it. But then I get scared so I just smile a lot.

  40. I LOVE talking to people about books but haven’t actually had much luck with it. When I was buying prezzies for #TBTBSanta, I ran into a girl at BAM who had a huge stack of books. I casually asked her what kind of books she liked because I HAVE LOTS OF RECOMMENDATIONS and she kind of rudely told me that she was buying for a friend. She obviously didn’t want to be disturbed and I was quite sad that I didn’t get to recommend The Lunar Chronicles to her.

    Also not too long ago, I was reading Delirium as I waited to be called back to see the eye doctor, and this middle-aged man kept asking me questions about the book. I didn’t want to talk to him because I was rather enjoying myself, but I can’t help but be nice so I ended up having an entire conversation with him about how I’d already graduated and what I want to do with my life and all I could think the whole time was LET ME READ! A nice, quick chat about books would have been fine, but I didn’ t want to tell him my entire life story. (Sometimes being nice is a curse.)

    I would love to chat with local teens at the library about books, but I’m there at lunch time and they obviously are at school… Perhaps this summer!


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