Weekend Reads #41: I…Can’t Be Seen With You in Public

Weekend Reads is a weekly discussion on a variety of topics. At the end of the post, I’ll include what I plan to read on the weekend.

This weekend’s question:

What books are you embarrassed to be seen reading in public?

My reading experiences in the past week are what inspired this topic. Before then, I strongly believed that I wasn’t embarrassed to be seen reading any book in public, except erotica. But reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic on the metro made me realize how self-concious I become when reading self-help books on the train.

I’m the type of reader who likes to show off what she’s reading. I hold my books at about shoulder height so that others can see the cover. Though I prefer to read uninterrupted, I don’t mind if someone sparks up an interesting conversation because of the book I’m reading. Often times when I do this, a fellow passenger would share a quick comment, usually to say that they either enjoyed the book I’m reading or have read other works by the author. Actually, that’s what happened while I was reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. A lady dashing for her train took a couple seconds to pause and gush that it’s one of her favorite books.

Another time I was reading one of the early books in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and a guy who seemed as if he’d just left the office told me “Keep reading. It gets better.” Other times, I receive book recommendations. Once I was on a semi-packed car and an older lady hopped on, peeped me reading, and decided to grab the seat next to me. She started reading her book but after a few minutes, she struck up a conversation with me about books, life, and romance and recommended that I read the novel she had — The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I can’t recall if I was reading Eat, Pray, Love at the time, but we gushed about how much we loved that book.

Such encounters are invigorating to a booklover like me and brightens my day (sounds cheesy but it’s true). But, while reading a self-help book, I tend to cower a little, lower the book in my lap, and worry that someone might be reading over my shoulder and see what passages I highlight. Sometimes I’m able to swat away such concerns by reasoning that I’ll mind my business and everyone else should just mind theirs. But that doesn’t always work, especially if you’re sitting next to an annoying passenger who insists on reading over your shoulder, points out a line on fear and asks “So you fear something?” and when you respond respectfully with a finality in your tone to suggest that you’d rather stop conversing and get back to reading, follows up with “How can I contact you?” -__-

Besides such odd encounters, I’ve become wary of reading comics I’m not familiar with in public. I was so excited when I purchased Saga and Rat Queens last year that I started reading them as soon as I got on the train. Sure, I knew there were sex scenes in Saga but I didn’t expect them to be so graphic and once I saw those pages, I couldn’t pull my eyes away so I kept reading and so did the dude standing next to my seat who read over my shoulder the entire ride.

I’m pretty sure I went off topic somewhere above but basically I become embarrassed when reading self-help books and other books with graphic content while in public because of the assumptions people make based on what they see others reading and because someone might read over my shoulder. I just become too preoccupied with what others think. After that incident with Big Magic, I told myself that I’d make it my bedtime read; but now that I think about it, I shouldn’t hide what I’m reading, especially a book that I’ve heard great things about and that has a beautiful cover. So I’ll get back to swatting away pesky thoughts and read what I want to read when I want to read it.

Are there any books you’re embarrassed to read in public?
Here’s what I’m reading this weekend:

It’s mostly these two this weekend. I’ll probably complete Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 4-6 by Hiromu Arakawa this weekend because I keep picking it up to read a few pages. I really enjoy it. And I hope to make some progress in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

What are you reading this weekend? Please share below.
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11 thoughts on “Weekend Reads #41: I…Can’t Be Seen With You in Public

  1. I had fun reading this post! It reminded me of how excited I get when I’m riding a bus or train and someone is reading a book I LOVE, or one that is on my TBR; occasionally there is welcome conversation because of this, and, like you, I have received some good recommendations from these exchanges. On the other hand I am stingy and don’t like people reading over my shoulder and stuff – NO! In the past I may have felt self-conscious about reading self-help books in public but now I’m older I don’t give as much of a damn!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, it feels weird when someone reads over my shoulder though I’m being a little hypocritical here since I sometimes do it out of curiousity to see what the person is reading and if I’ve read it.
      I’d love to get on your level of not giving a damn.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I one hundred percent agree- I’m even embarassed about reading some books on my kindle cos, like you said, I’m worried about people reading over my shoulder :/ Ooh Big Magic has such a pretty cover! I just finished reading Shadow of the Wind yesterday and it left me with such a book hangover I’m struggling to pick up anything else!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nobody has started a conversation about any of the horror novels I read on the train 😦 but I have had a couple of people enquire about my Japanese language art books focussing on English portraiture.

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  4. I love romance novels, but the trend towards naked male chests on the cover keep me from purchasing a paperback because I’m embarrassed to be seen reading it. Silly I know! Thank goodness for e-readers! My guilty pleasure can be my secret!

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  5. Mine would probably be ugly covers hahaha. But I almost never bring paperbacks anywhere, usually when I read in public I use my e-reader so it basically looks like I’m playing with my iPad and not reading some guilty pleasure hahaha 😁

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