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Feeling Nostalgic? The archives > How do you respond when people ask you what a book is about?

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments So I'm at the dentist today, and my dentist sees I have Big Machine with me, and the cover has a gun, and he asks, "What's that? A spy novel or something?" And Big Machine is hard to describe, a lot of complex plot developments, etc. and I said, "It's about this guy who used to do heroin...uh...who goes into rural Vermont and...uh...does stuff like look for paranormal activity in newspapers." Except I wasn't nearly that smooth.

Do people asking what a book is about throw you off? Are you good at responding? Does it depend on the book? Do you go "long response" or "short response"? Plot summary?

message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 06, 2010 04:05PM) (new)

I panic, definitely a short response. I don't want people to discover what a literary pigmy I am. While I love to read, I read for pure escapism. (Not a good confession on GR, but there you have it.)

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Bun you are a genius.

Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments :::laughs herself silly at Bun's inventive storytelling:::

And they believed you that P&P was about sheep diseases, Bun? Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

I can't do that, because when I get asked what a book is about, it's a patron thinking about reading it, or a colleague, and they really want to know. It's a hazard of my profession.

But I'd LOVE to hear Bun tell someone about a book someday. :)

message 5: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Bun's post is my favorite in recent memory. Now I can't wait for someone to ask me what a book is about.

message 6: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) I love it.

message 7: by smetchie (last edited Apr 06, 2010 05:37PM) (new)

smetchie | 4034 comments I'm going to try that Bunny and if I get busted you're going to hear about it. :)

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Excellent Bun, I definitely will have to try that.

message 9: by Gus (new)

Gus Sanchez (gussanchez) I've done that as well, Bun. In fact, sometimes I'll say, "I still have no idea what this book is about, but it's a great read so far." Because, god damn it all, how the hell do you explain the entire collected works of, say, Thomas Pynchon, to someone who's never read his works?

message 10: by Mary (new)

Mary (madamefifi) I just smile and tell folks that if they really want to know they should read it themselves.

But obviously Bun's response is much more clever.

message 11: by Jaimie (new)

Jaimie (jez476) | 664 comments I panic too when people ask me that. I stutter and sound apologetic when I try and answer. I read a lot of genres that are not mainstream. Now I don't feel so dumb for doing that.

Bun, you hit it right on the head. That's a filler, just to be polite question. And when you're an avid reader like us, it puts us in an uncomfortable position because we want to talk about books. Thus, why we congregate here.

I'm going to start doing the same thing. I can't believe you actually got away with the Pride and Prejudice explanation! LOL! That is hilarious!

message 12: by janine (new)

janine | 7715 comments i usually just give a very short response, because people don't really want to know. serial killer is one of the few answers that evokes further questions.

message 13: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments i try to sorta tell someone but i have found that my enthusiasm for reading and/or a particular book is usually not shared by others. i agree with bun in that for the most part they are not really wanting to know. i give the short version with high points

message 14: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Bun, you're a shining example to all of us!

Nothing new there.

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I always wear sunglasses around Bun because she's so bright :-)

message 16: by Sarah (last edited Apr 07, 2010 08:21AM) (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Nice, Bun!

message 17: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments That's why I'm a vegetarian :)

message 18: by Shana (new)

Shana (shanac55) | 98 comments Bun, you're my hero. That's awesome.

message 19: by Angel (new)

Angel Jenkins (angjen0816) | 10 comments when people ask me what i am reading, i literally reply "a book". yes, i know its rude but so is interupting someone while they are reading! lol

message 20: by smetchie (new)

smetchie | 4034 comments BunWat wrote: "Its a Bunny love fest!! I love it because I'm having a not so great week in the meat world. Yay."

Bunny what are you doing in the meat world?? What does this mean? Is that a reference to the "real" world and not the GR world?

message 21: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments yah, meat world? please do not leave that to our imagination. i am thinking you may be trapped in Upton Sinclare's The Jungle

message 22: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments ah..that makes weird sense. i get it. sounds like a term used on a sci-fi movie

message 23: by Jaimie (new)

Jaimie (jez476) | 664 comments BunWat wrote: "Yes. The meat world is what some people call the offline world. The world where we are walking around being physically present as opposed to electronically present. Where we are meat in the jungle not spirits in the machine..."

That's quite poignant, Bun!

As for the Bunny love fest...it was Easter just the other day. :-)

message 24: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie This is one of my pet peeves in a way..I find it really annoying (Can't I just read a book in PEACE!!)
I always get tongue tied. Sometimes I just want to read the back of the book out loud and save time. Buns right, I really don't think anyone cares. This Is why I always have my ear buds in when I read in public, cuts down on useless conversations with strangers :).

message 25: by Dovewing (new)

Dovewing Depends on the book. If someone were to ask me what Harry Potter is about, I would stand there with my mouth agape, then ask if they seriously didn't know.

message 26: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11667 comments If I were trying to get into your pants, I think your ink would be a more interesting subject than a bundle of pages in your hand.

message 27: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11667 comments Alternately, I could walk up and slap you, then yell at you for killing my ferret last week and walk away.

How am I doing now? :)

message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

That would be an interesting approach Lethal, and I would have to think quite a bit less likely to succeed on most.

message 29: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17337 comments Mod
BunWat wrote: "I told someone Pride and Prejudice was about diseases of sheep. "

I just fell harder in love with Bun.

message 30: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17337 comments Mod

message 31: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments BunWat wrote: "Sally wrote: "Sexoring?"


I choose not to know.

message 32: by Knarik (new)

Knarik Sarah Pi wrote: "BunWat wrote: "Sally wrote: "Sexoring?"


I choose not to know."

I choose not to know too.

message 33: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17337 comments Mod
Dude, y'all, she already explained it. Somehow it was easier to type that than phrases like "having sex" or "getting it on."

message 34: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11667 comments Sally wrote: "Dude, y'all, she already explained it. Somehow it was easier to type that than phrases like "having sex" or "getting it on.""

"Shagging" is easier to type. No pesky x to reach for.   Even "boffing" would work in a pinch.

message 35: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Phil said pinch.

message 36: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11667 comments One of the quizzes on sporcl is George Carlin's seven dirty words. You have to type in the real thing (one minute time limit - took me 10 seconds), but what shows up is . . .

Pee Pee
The C-word
Fellatio Aficionado
Overly Amorous Lover of Moms

In the spirit of sporcle, "fucking" becomes "f-bombing."

message 37: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) What about Colonel Angus?

message 38: by Phil (new)

Phil | 11667 comments What about him?

message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

I would agree with some of the people here. It depends on who is asking. If I know they are asking just to make conversation then I gave a succinct response and move on-- all the while thinking, you don't really want to know so I don't want to spend the energy to explain it. However, after reading Bun's response, I may have to give that a go... :)

message 40: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments At work, I sometimes think twice about sitting down in a public place with a book that I'm going to have to explain. There are some I kind of enjoy explaining, though.

message 41: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17337 comments Mod
The worst was when I was the receptionist at this salon where they really didn't need a receptionist so I just sat there every day. So I brought big thick meaty books and the people who would ask about them would find one random word in my explanation of what the book was about to respond to, as if THAT was the focus I was trying to convey.

message 42: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Yeah but ... what about Colonel Angus?

message 43: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (asherly) Generally, I suck at explaining books so I end up just confusing people. So chances are, they're turned off by that point and don't bother reading them x3; Maybe I should try to explain Twilight to someone.

message 44: by Zen (new)

Zen (zentea) | 515 comments Following Bun's famous response and incorporating Ashley's idea of explaining Twilight.... I think I will now just stick with this answer:

"Oh! This book is about Bella and Edward! You have to read it!"

And then all the sheep-like readers of pop-fiction will end up reading 'Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies'.

message 45: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17337 comments Mod
Most often people approach me while I'm reading and ask what I'm reading. I show them the cover and continue to read. If they ask if it is good, I say it is interesting.
I should reread this thread. I think I've already said this once before.

message 46: by Gus (new)

Gus Sanchez (gussanchez) KD, that's a very Chevy Chase-ish explanation. I like it.

message 47: by Phoenix (new)

Phoenix (phoenixapb) | 1619 comments Instructions for avoiding being asked this question all together.

Things you will need:

1. purchase a book like, The Kama Sutra Illustrated or 365 Sex Positions

2. an extra sweater, hoodie, or jacket

3. whatever book you are currently reading

Now that you have what you need, find a comfy place to sit. Drape sweater, hoodie, or jacket across your lap. Open chosen erotic book, to somewhere in the middle. Make sure everything on the cover that is not PG is covered by selected extra garment but the title is still visable. Place the current book you are reading between the pages of the erotic book and enjoy.

Hints for success:
1. Be sure to hold the erotic book at a conspicuous angle so there is no question as to what book you are reading.

2. Ignore gasps of outrage, immature teens giggling wildly, elderly ladies fond of the statement "well I never" (because undoubtedly, now they have), and children inappropriately asking parents for an explination in public!

Do these things and you too can read in public without having to anwser that oh so pesky question, "what's that book about?"

message 48: by Linda - Blue Oak (new)

Linda - Blue Oak I try my best to hide my cringe reaction, put a goofy look on my face to get their attention off my book's cover, and then comment on something happening around us or ask them about something in their life that I know they can't resist discussing.

message 49: by Catalina (new)

Catalina | 268 comments I was reading Sandman in public once and I overheard some illiterates making snide comments about it being about Transformers. Because graphic novels and comic books are all the same and all written for children.

If somebody asks me what my book is about and they are just making small talk, I just stick to a genre description (Oh, it's a family epic.) If I know they really want to know, I'm still not really detail oriented because, obviously, it's still unfolding for me as well.

I have a whole other list of reactions for when somebody is hitting on me and using my poor book as an "in" (as some people may use children, I'm sure).

message 50: by Carol (new)

Carol | 1679 comments I read Bun's awesome comeback.
I explained it to someone.
Later that night I read an excerpt from a book to him (about marketing)
He asked "what are you reading about"
I said "diseased sheep."

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