Bookish Buddies – Making and Keeping Book-loving Friends
Reading, as any hobby, often improves with companionship. Though sitting down with a good book only requires a seat, a book, and you, a love of reading brings people together in a unique way.
Finding friends who like to read can be difficult, especially when the apparently logical methods have serious drawbacks.
Since many readers are introverted, social media sites and book-centered services fill up with congregating readers. Thing is, if no one is doing more than silently stalking reviews and judging a potential connection based on extensive to-read lists, there is little genuine connecting going on.
If the online approach works for you – go for it. It works for some people.
To find reader friends in person, it helps to talk about reading and ask if others like to read. This used to be a fairly common conversation starter – just don’t dismiss a person or shut down the conversation outright if they’re not fond of reading. Everybody as a right to their own interests.
Warm up to teachers and professionals. They’re a likely group when it comes to enjoy the benefits of reading. If they’re elementary school teachers, it’s likely they’ll be glad of another adult friend that can appreciate quality in a middle-grade classic or release for that year’s Newbery Medal and Honor Books list.
Though it may seem an obvious move when looking for book lovers, join book clubs or writing groups. You do not have to love every one of the chosen reads. You do not even have to stay with the group for very long if it isn’t in your interest. The goal is to meet a reader whose personality resonates with you and who is willing to talk books with you as a friend.
The Care and Keeping of a Book-loving Friend:
- LISTEN. They may not be good at listening back, but if you can put your “I’m going to tell them about this next!” out of your head long enough to really let them share their excitement or feels about a book, it won’t matter. You’ve earned some positive association.
- Be consistent and follow up. Frequently ask what they’ve been reading lately. A person gets through books at different rates. By asking often, you’ll learn how much time they give to their reading, get a better idea of their taste and reading style, and – most importantly – you’ll be taking “read any good books lately” out of the small talk realm and into the daily friendship realm.
- Take recommendations. Anyone can give a recommendation. Taking the recommendation of someone is an immense gesture of good faith. Take that title, read that work, tell them what you thought, but don’t fall into the trap of fearing to give a genuine (and tactful) opinion if you didn’t love it. Also, don’t feel you have to take every single recommendation. Your TBR list deserves love too.
- Allow them to have their own tastes. It isn’t your job to tell them what books to like and which not to like. The goal here is to make a friend, not to shove your favorite authors/genres/series down someone else’s throat – or convert them, whatever your favored terminology. Let them like their things, you can like yours, and you can both love books and the experience of reading.
Friends who read are a treasure, but will make your to-read list grow exponentially. Few things say “I love you” between bookworms like a recommendation.
Recommendations are the backbone of the reading world. With new books flooding the market every year, classics described as cultural essentials, rock star authors, and series dozens of titles long, it’s no wonder readers describe their to-read lists with mixed affection and despair.
If someone cares enough to recommend a title, they’re not just saying, “Hey, you’ll like this”. They could be saying, “Hey, I want someone to share these feels with” or “I’m proud I know you well enough to know you’ll love this”. It’s a gesture of affection, care, and real enthusiasm. How rare is that?! They’re hungry to share that story, the roller coaster of emotions it sent them on, and the things that book says beyond the story.
Set aside a place in your reading life for friends, and what you can share together.