By April D. Boland
What are you embarrassed to be caught reading?
Come on, you know exactly what I'm talking about. All of us readers have at least one writer/book series/genre that we don't want to read in public because of what others will think. Why else would they have invented book covers?
For some, it's Harlequin romances. For others, it's Harry Potter. Personally? I tend to get red in the face when people watch me reading fat acceptance books like The Fat Girl's Guide to Life (which is fabulous, by the way). I also try to hide when I read religious books like the writings of Anne Lamott, Donald Miller and C.S. Lewis. It's not trendy to read Christian apologists, you know.
I will admit that when money was tight, I took to editing erotic fiction to make a little extra cash, and let me tell you, I would not have wanted to be caught out in public with one of those steamy covers in a million years.
But why should I be ashamed? you ask. No one else is looking at my book.
Like hell they aren't.
If you're a reader, you know you have caught yourself snooping at another reader's cover, even though you don't know the person. See someone on the train or in a coffee shop at the next table with a book, and for some reason, we're dying to know what it is. Bookish people are funny that way. We're incredibly nosy.
I have a friend who was reading The Red Tent on the subway and was approached by a woman asking her where she was up to, and telling her that she would absolutely love it. Apparently this is commonplace among readers, though it hasn't happened to me. Literature gives us the kind of boldness to reach out and touch someone that AT&T couldn't even deliver.
Is it possible that intellectual curiosity in one of its most common forms - namely, literary nosiness - can bring people together?
Take that trashy novel out into the street today and find out.