Not-So-Strange Strangers in a Coffee Shop

So I received some holiday cheer a bit early this year when I opened my mailbox and found a free Starbucks gift card. Yay!

Though I’m not a big fan of coffee, I’m a complete sucker for their Carmel Apple Spice drink and a free gift card is a free gift card, am I right?

Well during my liaison with a certain venti cup filled with awesomeness, I happened to see a coworker across the waves of strangers milling about. At first I made that panic look people form when they see someone from work out in the “real world” and I quickly had a short convo with myself, in which I decided that I liked this coworker enough that I’d acknowledge them in public and say a nice howdy-ho.

As expected, it was a little awkward at first as my slight fetish with drinking anything but coffee at a coffee shop was revealed – but we soon got over that hurdle and discussed more pertinent topics. You know, stuff like work.

Anyways, the convo was short and sweet as she had to go get her order and I had to make my mysterious exit, which wasn’t so mysterious since the entire building was lined with windows and my vehicle was parked right out front. But still, we said our goodbyes and our conversation lingered in my mind for a little bit afterwards.

Lately, primarily because I’m a writer and a lot because I’m actively thinking of things to associate with this blog, I began thinking of this convo in terms of how it could relate to books. Surprisingly enough it was very easy. Many times I’ve gone into a bookstore and found old books that I’ve read and sometimes I fondly pulled them out and flipped through the pages, while other times I eagerly skimmed pass their titles in search of something else entirely. After all, sometimes one read is enough – if you catch my drift.

I guess what I’m getting at is, to me, each book is like a person because it has its own identity. And as much as people don’t like to admit it, it’s only realistic to say that there are some types of books that people will or won’t acknowledge in public – kind of like my coworker. Seriously, I can think of a ton of instances of this!

Who out there admits to reading erotic romance novels or the Twilight series or anything with a stigma attached when you’re around strangers? The fact is – it’s rare. Unless you’re in your comfort zone or you know that the stranger happens to have the same taste in books, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll open up a conversation to talk about the latest raunchy read you’ve pulled an all-nighter with because it was just too damn good to put down. Or how you don’t care how corny it sounds because you actually love the idea of a glittering vampire who reads minds and falls in love with a girl who’s insanely accident prone.

What I’m getting at is: If you like a person, then you usually make it obvious. But for some reason, when people like books, we keep it top secret if it’s not considered a popular genre or the next great literary masterpiece. And that’s sad.

In a lot of ways, I like the opinion of *John Green who says that if you want to be a writer then read every genre, not just your favorite. Read the good books and the bad ones. Read the super melodramatic stuff and crazy psychological thrillers that’ll keep you sleeping with your eyes wide open for a month straight. Just read.

And when you’re done with that, don’t feel embarrassed if you liked certain aspects of the one thing everybody else hates. That’s what sets you apart and if you continue to deny what makes you stand out then your writing voice and reading voice will never be more than a whisper of the shout that’s dying to get out.

So the moral of the story is… treat the books you like, like the people you like – don’t ignore them for the sake of sharing in on a popular opinion. Because the truth is that you don’t share that popular opinion. You’re just pretending to.

And if you’re going to pretend, shouldn’t you pretend something cool? Like having wings, or breathing under water or being able to make people fall in love with you with a single glance.

Now that would be something worth pretending, and definitely something to chat about with a coworker during your morning coffee (or Carmel Apple Spice) meetup.

*I don’t recall where exactly John Green says this but I think it’s in one of his vlogs, or graduation speech, or on his website somewhere.

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One thought on “Not-So-Strange Strangers in a Coffee Shop

  1. This was a really interesting post, because you’re so right. I actually had a post I was going to make some time ago (actually on the vlog, but changed my mind when I couldn’t articulate my idea adequately on video) that was similar, about how you shouldn’t be embarrassed about what you read. Everyone should be able to read what they want without fear of embarrassment. Own your genre! That’s something I’ve had to learn over time. I used to be so, so embarrassed about my genre preferences when I was a kid. I would hide my Star Trek novels in book covers or, heck, in other books! But one day I realized that the people who would get along with me were the people who thought what I was reading was cool. Everyone else could mind their own business. If they didn’t like my taste in books, then I probably wouldn’t like their taste in much of anything, so it didn’t hurt my feelings if they didn’t want to get to know me after that. Own that Caramel Apple Spice drink! And tell me where I can get one. I’ve never seen it on the menu, but it sounds really good.

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