Public reading shame

While I love seeing people reading in public, it is not without its embarrassments; there have been numerous times when reading has left me red-faced:

  • Like the time I was reading Purple Hibiscus on a plane, and it was so sad that I started crying. Not just a little tightness in the throat or a few stray tears rolling down my cheeks. I’m talking shoulder-shaking, eye-scrunching, breath-shuddering sobs. The kind that elicits concern from the hosties and freaked out stares from my neighbours.
  • Or when I had the uncanny timing to be reading Tipping the Velvet on the bus right at the point where the sex gets massively steamy. I think I felt the palpable shock from the girl sitting next to me as she too got to the bit about fisting.
  • And there was the time that I was innocently reading Portnoy’s Complaint in the lunchroom when a colleague asked to have a look at the book. Naturally, the first few sentences on the page I was up to contained the words ‘’hard-on’, fuck’, ‘cock’ ‘titties’, ‘finger-fuck’, all topped off with the unmentionable c-word. On the plus side, no one has interrupted my lunchtime reading since.
  • At least if you have an outburst of emotion when you are reading a physical book, people know why, but when you are listening to Nick Offerman’s memoir on audio book and snorting, tittering, giggling and downright guffawing, people start to look at you like you’re one of those crazies wearing headphones connected to nothing. At least this happened to me when I was on our local free bus, which is so full of nutters that laughing to yourself barely registers a blip on the crazy scale.

When has reading in public let you down?

2 replies »

  1. You got me there sir. I, also feel the same. Haven’t tried reading the ones on your list but I had a feeling that I’m gonna have to try it anytime soon. Great words btw. Love it. 🙂


  2. I have laughed out loud in public because of a hilarious book. Was never self-conscious when that happened because I was very engaged with the book. I don’t usually read romance books with sexy covers out in public…that one I get self-conscious. 😉


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