Do you sometimes find yourself blabbering about a book you read to your closest friends, only to face blank stares and seemingly patient nodding? Then someone would casually mention it was time to change the topic… Yeah, this happens to me, when I drop the guard and spill all that bookish excitement I know I should save for my few fellow book nerds.
There is a rule in marketing and design, which applies pretty much to every social aspect of life: Always pay attention to your audience.
There should be no problem with a bit of bookish chit-chat with the buddies, right? Right – if this is the Jane Austen’s Book Club, but chances are none of us inhabits a societal bubble of like-minded readers.
Good for us!
I only have two friends I can nerd out with and have a meaningful discussion about books; with others books are a reluctant short-lived topic and I am always on my guard, checking my impulses to blabber.
Chances are most of your friends enjoy other things besides reading. Maybe they never open a book. They will be annoyed if you prefer to discuss the non-existing dude from your book, instead of their actual crush or Tinder date and they will be right to.
Diversity in social life actually allows you to disconnect better when chilling alone with a book. Also, to use a well-known dating rule to make the parallel point – clinging to your partner and having your entire life revolve around them can harm your relationship. The same goes for books – if your free time, interest, goals, friends, holiday activities, job, etc. all have something to do with books, you run the risk of sucking the pleasure out of your favorite down time activity. Not to mention that discussing books all the time with non-readers will bore them and make you feel a bit like a pathetic cat lady.
Have you heard that Tolkien wanted to write The Lord of The Rings entirely in Elvish?
That is a curious fact that many would appreciate, not book nerds alone. As cool and remarkable as it sounds, though, if Tolkien had indeed done it, none of us would know about Frodo and the One ring and the Nazgul and how Orlando Bloom gets younger with time; and chances are GRRM would have never written ASOIAF the way he has; the entire fantasy genre might not exist as we know it! All this could have meant little and less to Tolkien himself, but if he had nerded out, it would have been a huge loss to the world.
My point – don’t play elitist, just because you nerded out. If you learn Elvish in a particular spur of nerdism, you can probably find someone to practice with in a LOTR forum and have a great time. But if you crack a joke in Elvish at a party and nobody laughs or finds it super awesome that you are Legolas incarnated, the problem is not them.
So this is my super simple 3-step process of enjoying my social circle without boring them to death and without feeling like a fraud.
1 – allow other people to have different interests (a.k.a don’t be a snob, when the convo turns to fashion and don’t be a know-it-all when it touches upon a topic you have read tons about)
2 – don’t cut back on your reading time to make room for events you don’t enjoy (a.k.a don’t sacrifice your time to oblige these other people’s interests)
3 – relish the knowledge that after a crazy Saturday night out you get to read in bed on Sunday morning. The best of both worlds, init?
I nerd out a lot and usually I have a great time, but I am thankful for the occasional reality check.
Reading is a solitary pleasure, and although book discussions are fun, the magic of the experience happens when we are alone. At the same time, humans are social creatures with a single life to connect to the universe and explore the world. Your non-reader friends will help there. They will give you different eyes to see the world through, clear your way for new experiences; and they will tell you when you are being boring, going on and on about a topic that is, in all honesty, trivial bordering on nuisance for the majority and precious if kept close to heart.
Ah, and BTW! I am starting a Newsletter in September and I am super-determined to make it worth your while if you subscribe. Plus, there will be a little something for the very first subscribers, not that I am bribing or anything 🙂