Book Shopping with Strangers

I have developed a bit of a quirky habit over the last few years… I stalk innocent people who are shopping in book stores. It is not with a malicious intent. It is all in the name of sharing books and maybe having trouble setting boundaries on my reading community.

Of course, when I enter a bookstore I am drawn to the children’s section. I like to see what is new and scope out some possible sales. I quickly tire of that and begin to watch the other shoppers. I love watching the kids especially the 8-11 year old variety.

They run their fingers along the books and pick up and put down many choices. I like to observe what they are drawn to. Is it the latest “cool” book, a classic or a special interest like horses or Star Wars. If only it could end there…

Sometimes I start a conversation with “Oh, do you know someone who has read that?” or “What do you think it is about?”. From there I know if the kiddo is ready to talk. I love to hear what they are reading and what they enjoy about books. I also can’t resist making suggestions for other books for them to try.

Fortunately this hasn’t lead to any parents calling security and having me escorted out of the store. I attribute that to the teacherly vibe that I must send out that also causes strange children in need of help to seek me out in public places.

Children aren’t my only targets… I also find the aunt or grandmother shopping for a book as a gift. I can easily pick them out. They wander around a bit aimlessly, pick up books, flip through them and sigh. I’ll start that conversation with “Looks like you are trying to find something special?” This opens the flood gates and I hear what they are looking for. I ask a few questions and can make a few suggestions. I only hope the children who receive the books as gifts enjoy them.

Soon enough my time runs out and I have to move on. I choose what I am going to purchase and head to the cashier. I believe I “sell” more books than I buy and that is okay… I just love talking to people about books. Although I think it would be nice if the bookstore put me on the payroll to help cover my book buying habit.


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