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.