June 18th, 2006


Free Time Waster

Ah, that title is sort of like the unpunctuated EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES... (a story about pandas? a memoir of a murderer?) I was suggesting that I had discovered or rather re-indulged in a great way to waste the free time I have, better known as summer vacation -- reading

acoolsecretary asked for book recommendations. I suggest the 50 Book Challenge lj. I get a lot of ideas from it. Most people post some type of a review along with their numbers. It makes up the majority of the posts on my friend's page on most days, though, so that may be a deterrent to joining, but you can still check it out at will to avoid that happenstance...

Also, this book related poll is pretty good and has lots of interesting comments.

I really *LIKE* to read. I even read ingredient labels on individual packages of cereal served every morning while away as a kid at summer camp, where we were NOT allowed to be book worms... No books at the table, among other restrictions...

A young friend currently taking teacher training classes and I were discussing GENDER BIAS the other day. He has been doing observations to support/deny its presence and prevalence in our society, with results that startled him. That led to ME thinking more about it, which played into the following current episode:

When my girlfriend and I were in Ottumwa, the nearest large town (60 miles away, one way) recently, we "ate Chinese". I saw what I realized was a strange phenomenon there: a MAN reading a book while eating. Newspapers - sure, cliched, AND true (generally at the breakfast table instead of talking to the rest of the family in the cliche version), magazines, yes, especially while waiting for their wives to finish shopping), but a paperback? I was DYING to know what he had!

He stayed glued to it. The only time his head came up was when the waiter asked him if everything was okay, or he wanted a plate cleared or more water... He was REALLY into that book!

My girlfriend was sure if I approached a strange man, she'd just DIE of embarrassment. Then she added that if he were like HER husband, he'd be reading a western. I guessed the currently popular Da Vinci Code.

She talked me out of asking until she pulled out my Chinese fortune cookie. Having left my glasses in the car, I had to hand it to her to read to me. "DON'T STOP NOW" it said. We both just burst out laughing, and the entire restaurant stared at us. I figured she couldn't possibly get any MORE embarrassed, so I went over as he stood to leave.

I thought I might get a peek at the cover without having to actually accost him, but he'd stuck the book in his pocket as he rose.

Gulp. "I'm a reading teacher and after watching you be glued to your book all throughout the meal, I just HAVE to know what you're reading."

Surprise turned to a grin. "A western," he said guiltily as he fished it out of his pocket. (It is *MORE* PC to read "literature" in a restaurant than a piece of engaging, but admittedly pulp fiction???)

Yup, had I been able to see the front cover, I would NOT have had to ask -- gun toting men rode head on into the cover... something Rio Bravo or Grande, and Rusty or Randy someone...

"My girlfriend was right. She said if it were her husband reading at the table, it would have been a western."

He slid the book back into his pocket, and we all left, smiling, as were the other patrons. We were just part of the lunchtime entertainment, I'm sure.