Contrary to what you may hear, readers are not an endangered species. Their habitats are growing by the day, as more bookstores and libraries are constructed and their beloved authors continue to produce an endless food supply, nurturing the sharp minds of this truly unique animal. With the creation of e-readers and audiobooks, access to stories (mandatory for species survival) is more widely available than ever before. As the species continues to thrive, your chances of running into a reader in the wild increase.
What happens if you do stumble across one? How should you react? Are they aggressive? Do they bite? For this example, we will use a common subspecies of reader; the Coffee Shop Reader.
The Coffee Shop Reader isn’t necessarily found in a coffee shop. You can find one in many different eating establishments, from your local diner to a burger joint. Not all Coffee Shop Readers look alike either. They are, however, still relatively easy to identify with the untrained eye. Just search for the book in their hands and the hyper focused look in their eyes as they become completely invested in the fates of their favorite characters.
As you observe the Coffee Shop Reader with a smile, you are struck with a burning question. What in the world are they reading? Something has captured their attention so completely that they are scarcely aware of their surroundings. You must know what this incredible book is.
You can’t see the cover from your angle. As you shift in your seat to get a better look, the Coffee Shop Reader places their open book down on the table and leans over it with obvious hunger, hunger that not even their half-finished plate of fries will satisfy. Damn it.
You’re left with one option. One you desperately wanted to avoid. You take a calming breath and prepare to interrupt the Coffee Shop Reader’s trance.
“Hey, uh, what are you reading?”
The Coffee Shop Reader doesn’t hear you the first time, and you are forced to repeat your question. They jump. A brief flash of annoyance crosses their face.
“What is it?” they ask.
“Um. I just wanted to know what you’re reading,” you say.
The Coffee Shop Reader’s face softens. They smile and your heart stops pounding.
“Oh, it’s American Gods. Neil Gaiman is my favorite author,” they say.
You pull a worn and tattered paperback novel from your purse. It took hours of internet shopping for you to find a purse you were satisfied with, one that could fit at least one paperback of your own inside along with your wallet, keys, and all the other miscellaneous items that end up at the bottom of purses.
The Coffee Shop Reader’s face lights up with obvious delight when they see the cover. The edition is older, but it’s unmistakably the same book. They take their backpack (probably full of other books) off the chair next to them and set it on the ground. You recognize an invitation when you see one and leap out of your own chair to join them.
Ah the wonders of nature.