Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Blogger, Dan Cabrera: Romance In the Romance Section: Do Couples Find Love in Bookstores?

Reading is often a solitary experience. You cozy up by the fire in your big comfy chair, wrapped in your favorite Snuggie, a mug of hot cocoa at your side. You creak open that hardbound copy of Anna Karenina and find yourself enraptured by the philosophical musings on subsistence farming. Oh, the joys of reading!

That might not sound like the most exciting Saturday night, but for many readers it can beat going to a club or hitting up a local bar. There’s no getting around it: bookworms have a reputation. Sure, there’s the sexy librarian thing, but that seems to be the exception to the rule.

Avid readers are often depicted as anti-social nerds wearing Coke-bottle glasses. There’s even the word “bookish,” which doesn’t exactly have the best of connotations. The OED lists one definition of the word as “Acquainted with books only.” Book lovers clearly do not get much love.

Or do they? A recent Slate article suggests that bookstores are a hotbed of romantic activity. The article focuses on Brooklyn independent bookstores and how they are a great pickup spot:

Bookstores are magnets for people with an hour to kill, and isn't that when one's eyes are most likely to wander, to scan other people's faces for signs of friendliness? The wide tables of alluring, face-up hardcovers and paperbacks invite lingering fingers and quiet conversation. Surely, Brooklyn's single population was using the bookstore (and others like it) as a backdrop for finding true love.

There is something romantic about bookstores, maybe now more than ever. Like the record store, a bookstore is where you will find aficionados and true fans—people who share your interests and passions. And like record stores, bookstores are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

But is a bookstore just a quieter bar (one without the social lubricant of alcohol, of course)? Like I mentioned above, book nerds tend to prefer getting lost in a novel, not in someone’s eyes. Would fiction fans or graphic novel groupies have the nerve to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger?

I can barely talk to people I know, and the thought of approaching a stranger in a public place makes me break out in hives. Add to that the possibility of flirting and you’ve got yourself a Code Blue. In a bookstore you are completely out in the open. There is no loud music, no throng of people (unfortunately) to slink into. There’s you, the books, and the cashier who desperately hopes you will buy multiple copies of the The Modernist Cuisine at full price.

Then again, maybe a bookstore isn’t such a bad place to find love after all. If you strike out with your pick-up line, just go behind the stacks and hide your face behind an over-sized atlas. If you like a particular genre, find its section and chat up a fellow fan (If you’re in the horror section here’s a line, free of charge: “Talking to you is scarier than this whole wall of books. Please go out with me.”) If finding love in a bookstore is a possibility, it might be the best reason to forsake Amazon entirely.

Have you picked anyone up in a bookstore? Have you ever found the Barnes to your Noble? If you have, please let me know. I’ll be parked in front of the Self-Help section, waiting.


  1. Love this post, Dan! If only it were that easy to find people worth dating LOL!

  2. I worked my way through college at a Barnes and Noble and you are on to something here, Dan.

    Every month we hosted a Jane Austen discussion group. Every single male employee knew that this was THE place to go every month. Not because they loved Emma or Pride and Prejudice. Oh no, there were plenty of single, romantic women to pick from. They suffered through the movies and tried to sound like they knew the material.

    I was already with my future husband at the time, but I did get a few memorable date proposals. One came from a member of John McCain's campaign staff when we hosted a book signing for his biography.

    The IT guys were always happy to ask your status in the dating pool.

    One man used to send the manager of the cafe flowers every Friday for three months before she agreed to go on one date.

  3. This is a Denver-centric comment, but my mom always said she figured the perfect man could be found at the Tattered Cover during a Broncos game. Neither of us had occasion to test this theory, however...