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Thursday, February 8, 2018

How Books Can Bring Us Together

While standing on the train platform in Larchmont, New York , waiting for my often-late 8:20 a.m. train coming from New Haven, Connecticut, two middle-aged men struck up a conversation based on a book one of the men held in his hand.  It was a meeting, between two strangers who may otherwise never have uttered a word to one another if not for this book.  Books can bring us together like nothing else.

They fondly exchanged love for the book’s author whose series of books they found to be amazing.  While they had not yet entered each other's world in the 50+ years of their lives, a random, chance meeting and conversation and perhaps even a friendship was spared.  Will such exchanges continue to happen in the digital content era?

Let’s face it.  I can’t see what someone is reading on their iPhone or Kindle.  I can’t even tell if it’s a book, blog, newspaper, magazine, website, email or something else.  Their tastes and intellectual pursuits remain tucked away on a screen.  Whereas when one reads a paper book anyone can see what’s being consumed and if they choose, comment on it and introduce themselves to the reader, as one guy did today with another.

That’s how it’s been for a long time – and that’s how I hope it continues to be, I like the physical world where humans connect on a personal level, where things are out in the open, where, there’s a currency of energy that fills a space.  The flickering hum of a device doesn’t excite me.  It may give me access to worlds of information at an instant moment but it can’t provide the contact one gets from human interaction.  I want my senses engaged – all of them – and not just the private, quiet one that involves scrolling through a digital mountain.

Word-of-mouth, spreads differently today than it used to.  Sure, some friends and family gather and what one is reading may come up, but so much discussion of books now takes place online.  Some of it is less a discussion, and more of a series of one-way shouts through social media posts.  When you’re not looking for something, and then discover it, it is a great feeling. But it’s becoming a lost art.

In the simple exchange on the train platform, I witnessed not only shared joy in an author and an exchange of recommending books, but the moment in life when people come together for a common experience and purpose.  Those two men love to read books and that was enough of a common denominator to embrace one another.  Wouldn’t the world be such a better place when strangers come together, when people read books and discuss them, and when we look away from our portable conduits to the virtual world and actually experience the tactile one?

Reading books is actually a private experience.  You do it alone, not talking to anyone, fully enmeshed in the words that appear in your hands.  But books leads us to live with each other and to experience the physical life that we crave.  They teach us, inspire us, and enlighten us so we may finish a book and feel closer to the world around us.

We should have an honoring day called Hold a Book in Your Hand Day, where everyone walks around parading a book.  It will encourage strangers to strike up conversations about the books we read and the lives we lead.  It will not only spread a word-of-mouth love for many books, it will bring about a more harmonious world.

What book are you reading?  Show it off – and let the conversation begin.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource."

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