I’ve Just Read a Book You Might Like

22 May

Selfie Christmas

For some reason that I cannot quite put my finger on, I often feel compelled to talk to strangers when I am sharing a public space with them. The other day in Barnes and Noble a woman asked a clerk where she and her son could find the books that help students with the SATs. I had to talk to myself several times to keep from going over to them and explaining that I had upped my GRE scores by using such a book. I basically think of myself as an introvert, but maybe I am wrong; maybe inside me is an extrovert struggling to get out. Intellectually, I know that people who are shopping often resent the intrusion of strangers, so I try to stifle the urge to offer advice and try to keep a chokehold on my inner Amy Dickinson.

This compulsion to give advice on books probably has something to with the fact that I was an English teacher. I’m always fascinated to know what other people are reading. At bookstores I will walk behind people, so I can get a glimpse of the titles of the books that they are examining and I have offered suggestions on good books to read; one time I had just read a book about John Kennedy, Jr. by his old girlfriend, Christina Haig, and I just had to tell a woman who was looking it over how good the writing was. The woman was polite and thanked me for the advice. But this desire to lend my opinion on books occurs not just in bookstores, but in doctors’ offices and on buses. Sometimes in doctors’ offices I will walk sideways so I can see titles and throw my just-read magazine down at an angle to assure that my view of whatever they’re reading is unobstructed.

I have noticed that a man in my writers’ group, Doug, enjoys loaning his DVDs and books. His method is probably the socially accepted way to pass on one’s knowledge.

When I attempt to psychoanalyze myself, I come up short. What exactly is it that causes me to have this urge? Do I think I know a lot about books? Am I nosey? Am I lonely? Maybe I am motivated to break down those private walls that separate people from one another. I’m reminded of a childhood memory. My four-year-old cousin from Florida was visiting. She was a cute but naughty little girl. One day when my brother was taking a bath, she was told that he was to have his privacy. She opened the crack of the bathroom door so he couldn’t see her and threw in a green ball. That’s me, only much older. By the way, I am finishing a rock n roll autobiography entitled There Goes Gravity by Lisa Robinson, someone who has been a rock n roll reporter for many years. The vignettes are good, although she has some trouble stringing them together. I read the book because it has a Led Zeppelin section, but found that the sections on the Clash and Patti Smith, rockers I know only by their names were also interesting. So, if you are looking for a good book to read. . . .

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