At the Library: Seen Reading by Julie Wilson

seen readingSo it turns out I’m not the only person who is constantly wanting to know what other people are reading. Are you like that? When you’re on the bus or in the library or just waiting (like we do) and you look over and see someone is nose-deep in a book and you just HAVE to know the title, and if it’s a book you’ve read, you’re just dying to know their thoughts?

Yeah. That’s me.

I’m also that person who, when in bookstores or Costco or anywhere with books, will see someone grab a book off the shelf. It’s a book that I loved and can’t stop thinking about. I just want to go over and say, “This book … THIS BOOK! It is amazing, SUCH an amazing book. You have to get it. I promise you won’t be disappointed!”

And really, sometimes I do say that (though with slightly less exhuberance, so as not to come across as crazy), and sometimes I feel too shy, being the bookish person I am. I watch them and see if they hold onto the book or if they put it back on the shelf. When they put it back, a part of me is sad that they will never experience (at least for now) the world of the book that I experienced. And if they hold onto the book, I can feel a smile creeping onto my face, just knowing that they’re in for a real treat.

So, I’m not the only person who does this. At least, I’m not the only person who observes what others are reading. Julie Wilson does it in a different way from me. She sees what people are reading, sees what they look like, and puts together a bit of a narrative when putting the two together. It reminds of the way that a certain book can resonate with a person, how a book can speak to you when you never thought it would. How when you’re reading you can think, “Wow, this is totally my life.”

It does work sometimes and there’s a beauty in what Julie writes. Sometimes you do have to look past the fact that not all books resonate with us, not all books can fit in a compartment of our lives. A person could read a book about divorce, but be completely and madly in love with their spouse. A person can read a book about animals, but be deathly afraid of them. A person can read about loss, having never lost anyone in their life.

But still, it’s interesting to read about what could be, those little stories we all make up in our head when we see someone and want to make up their life for them. Those assumptions we make about people, not knowing them from Adam.

Of course, that’s where the problem lies. I believe that this is a book best read by people who take public transportation a lot. Maybe those people who find themselves without a book and have to resort to people watching instead. For someone like me, someone who never takes public transportation and who always has their nose buried in a book or is otherwise distracted when around people (read: introvert), I felt like this book just couldn’t resonate with me. I couldn’t understand how the stories connected with the people or what they were reading — or if they were supposed to connect with what the people looked like and what they were reading. Maybe they never were. Maybe it was all just imagination. But if that was the case, why have a description of the person and what they’re reading in the first place if only during a handful of stories the fictional tale will match up with the actual reader?

I’m quite certain that some people will find this to be a gem of a book, but for me it just wasn’t. It was definitley an interesting read and I will admit that it’s a pretty little book, but I think when it comes to things like flash fiction, or very short stories, I need to know a little more background before diving in. And I need to see more connections. For me, connecting is what makes a story great — no matter the length.


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