Do you avoid reading certain books in public?

05 May 2014

I avoid reading certain types of books in public. I don’t know if that is a normal thing to do or not. It’s a thing I try and do though. I know over at Fiktshun there was a discussion about reading sexy in public and Jamie at The Perpetual Page-turner warned against reading in public about a month ago. I think these are the posts that have influenced this weeks musings. That, and I read a couple of books that I felt like were definite reading in private books when sat on the bus to and from work.

So, last week I started reading Fall With Me. I began reading at home and I was enjoying the read, and I was obviously reading this on my kindle, so I continued reading on my commute to work. This was all well and good until the sext scenes popped up. Now, I’m not a prude, I don’t mind sex in books and will happily read these scenes, it makes no difference to my opinion of a book (unless it comes across as gratuitous) I just carry on as normal. I would have done this on the book, but you do get that general feeling that you are doing something wrong. I know there are probably hundreds of people that went about reading Fifty Shades of Grey in public, on trains and buses, but I tend to feel a bit awkward about it, especially since you feel very aware of everyone around you. You are even more aware when someone is sat behind you. I always feel like the person behind can read every word of my book and is judging me. I know that most people are completely uninterested with what I’m reading, they are probably to wrapped up in themselves to even bother reading over my shoulder, but it could happen. So reading sex scenes and books of that ilk in public feels like a major no-no for me. I think I may attempt to avoid it in future.
I know you are all probably thinking ‘well, what did you expect when you started reading that book?’ and you’re right. I did expect sex to pop up. I should have avoided public reading for Fall With Me. I know and can accept that. Dumb move on my part, but am I the only one with that philosophy? Is it a universal fact that sex can not be read about in public? Why should I feel so awkward reading about a perfectly normal thing, why should I be judged for such actions? It’s not like I’m some twelve year old reading about sex, why do I should I be made to feel ashamed about reading a book with sexual content in public when I am twenty-three years old? I mean, it’s not like it’s porn now is it. As I said, as long as the sex isn’t added gratuitously then there should be no issue, right?

Maybe it’s the culture I have been raised in. Sex is very much a taboo subject, it cannot feature in films and TV without there being a special rating on. Sex cannot be shown on TV before the watershed. It’s a thing that makes you feel awkward when watching a film with your parents and you then realise that a sex scene is coming up and you feel the urge to leave the room. I don’t know. I want to not care, but everything I have been raised knowing as led to me feeling awkward about these things, and I don’t know if that’s right or fair, but sex in books, to me, feels like a thing that is acceptable but not when it comes to being around other people.

This post as suddenly become all about sex, and that was not the plan, because I also want to discuss another type of book that is not appropriate reading when you are in public. And that is books that make you cry. You do not always know which books are going to make you cry, but there are definitely trigger words and topics in a book summary which I think should alert you to the cry factor. These are things like death, cancer and anything which has been made into a film which made you weep. As such, I know not read The Fault In Our Stars, Marley & Me or If I Stay in public. Yet, that is exactly what I did. I started reading If I Stay and I read it where there were other people. I became that weird that started to develop a red face (because my face goes blotchy when I cry) and whose eyes began to water and who had to look away from what I was reading repeatedly to avoid the risk of bawling.
crying and hiding it
My question is, why do I do this to myself. Why do I start reading books when I know I’m going to want to carry on reading, and thus am forced to read them in public? I mean, I know I am quite an emotional person, I cry quite easily. I just have a lot of feelings. And the thing is, it’s not even obvious that I am that type of person, I give off an excellent aura of sarcasm and stoicism, but internally I am an emotional wreck. I cry all the time, I mean I cried at Caspar for God’s sake. I am a weepy emotional wreck, so me resisting the urge to cry in public is a continuous battle, as any book poses a risk of setting me off.
i just have a lot of feelings
I don’t know. I can’t just avoiding books because they make me feel things, after all, that is the sign of a well written book. It is embarrassing, though. Are there any other types of book that are not appropriate for public consumption which I’ve missed? Is there anything which I have missed in my musings? Essentially, do any of you have a similar experience or anything to add to my own experiences?
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