Books Bring People Together…

It always amazes me how small the world is. Obviously in reality it is an absolutely giant planet hurtling thorugh space, though I don’t like to think about that last bit too much. Anyway, in the last two weeks I have been reminded once more just how small a place it is and bizarrely through books and conversations, in one way or another, that they have sparked. These events have also made me doubly sure that books bring people together, despite reading being such a solitary activity.

You may remember when I came back from my blogging break that I gave you a summary of what I had been up to and I introduced you to a new feline friend called Tolstoy (see picture —>). Well, imagine my surprise when I received an email that informed me that the cat I had taken a picture of was actually called Santiago and that the writer of the email, Charlotte who had been looking for a new book group, knew this because it was her sister’s cat and who lives next door to me. How crazy is that? It seemed all the more crazy when I discovered that Charlotte had also seen me read at Waterstones on World Book Night and neither of us had a clue who the other was then. We have since been to book group together and travel back chatting about books all the way home, lovely.

I mentioned on Sunday, in the post on my London trip and book looting spree, that thanks to books I made a new friend on the train journey home. Now here I have to admit I am not the most befriending kind of person on public transport. If I happen to have a long train journey I always see it as ‘reading time’, in reality I spend most of the journey looking out the windows and staring at the British countryside.

However after a long day in London the train back to Manchester was a late night one so there was no countryside to steal my attention. I headed to the quiet coach and sat down opposite a woman reading. In my head this meant I would have two and a half hours silence in which I could read; this wasn’t to be. You see I couldn’t help rummage through the selection of books I had nabbed and spotted out the corner of my eye that the woman opposite was crowing for a sneaky look. Once I had put them all back she carried on reading, I spotted she was reading Haruki Murakami’s ‘Kafka on the Shore’ and had to hold back from saying ‘ooh I have read that isn’t it marvellously bonkers?’ I was on the quiet carriage after all! That said I had no sooner taken out Toni Morrison’s ‘Home’ to read than I heard ‘Excuse me, is that the new Toni Morrison book, the one that’s not out yet… how have you got that? I love her…’

Well that was that, we both downed tools, well books, and proceeded to spend the rest of the journey talking about books, books and more books as we walked home and discovered we lived on the same street! How mad is that? Maybe there is some literary subconscious draw to that road? I just thought it was so nice and I came away with about five more authors I am keen to read.

Of course these are both people who live in and around Manchester and so that could be part of it, yet there is one more story that I thought I would share. I opened my emails to one entitled ‘OMG… It’s You’, initially I did think ‘oh **** what spam is this’ until I discovered it was my step-aunt Jane. This might not sound a big deal, but actually it is because she was my first stepdad’s sister, he sadly passed away a few months after he married my Mum almost 20 years ago and she had moved abroad and we had lost touch. Well, she had been looking for a ghost story for her teenage son and a review of mine popped up, she followed the trail and found my email. How nice is that?

See, proof right there that books bring people together and reunite people. I bet this has happened to some, if not all, of you in the past. Care to share your stories of books befriending you to someone or reuniting you?

25 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

25 responses to “Books Bring People Together…

  1. What wonderful stories! I do find that I naturally gravitate towards people who like the same books or listen to the same music (or are open to trying out new things). I am also happy to say that writing and sharing one another’s blogs has brought me and my niece closer together. I moved abroad when she was about 2 years old and have only seen her briefly on family visits every couple of years. She is a very gifted writer and it’s been a privilege to have access to her thoughts in a way that the rest of the family (internetless and uninterested in writing) do not even suspect.

    • Thats a lovely story about you and your niece Marina and how books and blogs have brought you together. I am hoping it might be the same with me and my previous step family, we will see.

  2. I don’t really have the same small world moments as you as all my bookish friends seem to live miles away. But I think most bloggers will say they have made some great friends through talking about books. And the girls from my book group are the only ones I tend to go out into town with these days!

    • Oh I definitely made some wonderful friends through blogging about books, I mean look at me and Gavin and doing the Readers. Its nice that you and your book group go out on the town aswell, lovely.

  3. Louise Trolle

    I had one experience like that.
    When I was around 8, we lived in the mainland part of the country, and I had a great friend named Adam. We used to listen to audio books together, on good old tape cassettes!, and I particularly remember listening to Susan Coopers “The Dark is Rising” series, because we both thought it was too scary to listen to alone!
    A few years later my family moved to one of the islands, so we lost touch.
    When I was around 27, I was living in Copenhagen, I picked up the paperback edition of Coopers “Over Sea, Under Stone”, and got to thinking about Adam, so I looked him up on Google, he has a very special last name, and found out he was living 10 min. from me! I decided to call him, although it was a little weird, and he came by for coffee, we talked for 4 hours, then my husband came home from work, and they chatted until 4 in the morning! He is now the godfather of our son, and we se him and his lovely girlfriend as often as we can.

    • That is an absolutely gorgeous story Louise, how lovely that you are now friends with him again. This actually happened with me and Polly of Novel Insights who were best friends at school, from about 4 years old, and then found each other on friends reunited. Its lovely when that happens.

  4. Love stories like that. Spooky fun.

  5. Annabel (gaskella)

    I love the way that you can just start to talk to people about books once you’ve identified them as a potential booklover. It’s how I found my bookgroup, chatting with another Mum at pre-school pick-up.
    Writing my blog has found me many new friends, and whenever I’ve got to meet them in the flesh, it’s been as if we’ve known each other for years. Speaking of which, it’d be great to organise another UK bookbloggers meet – maybe for the autumn.

    • Interestingly I wouldn’t normally. I thought about mentioning the Murakami to the woman opposite me but I wouldnt actualy have dared. So I was actually rather thrilled that she then started what was a lovely two hours conversation.

  6. I like your reasonings, how books bring you together with people you should/do already know. I had a friend once and we had always got on well but never so much as when we both became big readers and without knowing each other was becoming one. That’s about it for me other than random conversations with people at bus stops or in bookshops themselves – I tend to be wary of starting conversations because of what you’ve said, people want to read.

    Your train journey story, what were the chances!

    • I like those random mini conversations too actually it has to be said. They happen when you least expect it, just for a minute or two, yet they brighten your day.

  7. I love these stories. I’m terrible about chatting up strangers but this makes me what to get on a train and start talking to the first person I see with a book!

  8. What lovely stories, Simon!
    I have always vaguely hoped to strike up book-related conversations on the train (despite mostly, like you, intending it to be reading time exclusively). It’s not happened yet. I did once see a 20ish year old woman reading a Persephone book, but she looked so grumpy that I didn’t say anything…

    • Hahahaha I once saw a very grumpy young Persephone reader on the tube, I hope this doesnt happen to all people what might they be thinking about the lovely grey readers if they see this? Hee hee.

  9. Great stories, when books get us talking in real life!

    • I think its lovely hearing them from other people, a bit like fictional stories creating new ones… or have I gone a bit too New Age with that?

      • Sounds good to me, I do think stories make stories, I thought I dreamed up an author name once, only to discover he really did exist, though I’d never read his books, a few months (or maybe even longer I forget now), after I dreamed him up he published a novel about the power of dreams and sleep. I thought that was a pretty good story 🙂 a bit New Age is still fun.

  10. Hi, well I have struck up conversations on trains, but I’d never interrupt someone reading. I love “Kafka on the shore” but I don’t agree with your description of it as “bonkers”; “marvellous” yes indeed. Of course it has features of a magical realist novel (like a toned down version of “Wind-up Bird Chronicle”), but within that genre it has a very coherent structure and story with characters I felt were very “real”. Just my view of course and I doubt if I could defend it cogently.

    I’ve just finished 1Q84 and loved it, but I didn’t think it as good as “Kafka …”.

    Your puss looks a little grumpy, but that’s perhaps a feature of that breed of cat.

    Miaow!

    • Its brilliantly bonkers I think is a fair description of it to be honest DP. I loved that book, it was my first Murakami and it remains my favourite. I haven’t tried 1Q84 as all the hype annoyed me. I have the three volumes for a rainy day, well maybe week, though.

  11. I have quite often had conversations on trains about books. In fact, one such conversation lead to a group of friends (known to everyone as my train friends). Everyone catches different trains now, but there is one girl I am still close to and we constantly talk about books, and movies based on books and more! All because one day we commented on what we were reading. Of course, all those conversations used to cut into my reading time, but there were days when we just got on the train together and said ‘can’t talk today, have to read’ and that was it until we got to the station and said see you tomorrow!

    • Ha I like the sound of ‘train friends’ though if you’ve got exciting bookish stuff to chatter about don’t you feel offended or miffed if its a ‘I’m reading’ morning?

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