Reading is a predominately solitary activity, which works out very well for us introverted people. We have our usual spot where we feel comfortable and do the majority of our reading. Mine is laying down on my couch with my cat either curled up by my feet or laying on my chest if she really wants attention. Usually, music is playing, and a snack is close at hand (we are all about the Feeds here). On days that the weather is just too nice to be inside, nearby parks take over the ideal spot, either on a bench, on a blanket picnic-style, or straight up lying on the grass. However, what about those rainy days or when you just need to grab some food and don’t want to stop reading? This article will give a little insight into going to bars and restaurants with your best friend: a book.
Firstly, bringing a book to a bar may be a good way to strike up conversations with other people and find some new friends. You may see an article about using books to make friends in the near future here, but today we’re focused on the opposite: how to not be bothered while you concentrate on your Reads and Feeds, and beers. I have had many years of experience doing this, both around where I live and on some solo vacations. When you are in a random locals pub in Dublin at 9 PM on a Tuesday with a bunch of old Irishmen, and look distinctly touristy, it takes a bit of setup to read without interruption. Fair warning: it also doesn’t always work.
There are some items that you can bring with you along with the book to help set up that “leave me alone” look. The most important one is a pair of headphones, regardless if you are going to end up listening to something or not. A notebook, backup battery charger for
your phone, and/or a laptop all give off that vibe that you are working on something rather than just pleasure reading and can help minimize interruptions. A second book gives the impression that you have to get through one and start on the other, so it can be helpful as well. Usually, I opt for the notebook option as it is easy and useful for short trips, and on a long day out the battery charger is a life saver.
Depending on what type of place you go to, it may feel a little odd to go there alone especially if you aren’t used to it. Bars are no problem–many people go to those by themselves. There, you just look for the most secluded part of the bar, usually at the far end from the door. Keep your headphones in the entire time, just take one of them out for the brief moment to order your food and drink. I take the dust cover off if it is a hardback book so that it isn’t obvious what the book is, and that makes people less likely to comment on it. Sit down restaurants that you have a table and server are more awkward at first, but you quickly become used to it. If you go before or after the dinner and lunch rushes then you can set up all over the table without bothering anyone else, and they won’t particularly care how long you stay. Fancier places will sometimes be a little confused if you ask for a table for one, and in those situations holding your book so it is sort of prominently displayed can help ease the confusion.
Why go through all this effort to be out in public, when you are just going to turtle up in your own mind anyways? Well, in the immortal words of Donna Meagle, sometimes you just have to Treat Yo’ Self. One of my favorite ways to do that is to try out new restaurants, and everything is better with a book.