Conversation between strangers builds bridges. In these troubled times, initiating an interchange focused on a neutral or shared interest can quickly create a positive tone, too seldom enjoyed in the past few years.
How’s your book?
There are simple book-focused questions that can easily open a conversation between two strangers. The open sharing between two people of different ages, political persuasions or religions can be hard to establish in many cases, but asking about something that the other person already finds interesting is a sure-fire ice breaker—and even if it doesn’t, the seed is planted for leaving a pleasant impression. All that it takes is for one person to be carrying or reading a book or looking at an electronic device with infrequent screen tapping, signaling a book in progress.
A favorite author of yours?
Typically readers are happy to be asked about their favorite authors. If they are just in the beginnings of a book or are just getting started with a reading episode, they might fold the book over a thumb and look at the cover and then either share something like, “OH! Uh, it’s about this family/guy/little girl/etc., who…” Or, they might go into a not so brief description of the topic that is a personal interest or fascination. Asking about a favorite author mostly certainly can deliver an invitation to talk.
How did you first discover the author?
When a person is deep into a book they might offer a brief answer and then resume their silent exchange with the author(s). In that case the initiator can already tell that the book has wrapped around the reader’s heart or mind. At such a non-verbal signal the closing comment could be simply, “Must be good.” That will be received as the end of an interruption, or encouragement to verify that opinion. It’s all good.
What kinds of things does the author write about?
When the asker of such a question knows the author or title, then the sharing can be a positive opinion, an impression about this or a different book by the same author. “I love her stuff. Haven’t (have) read that one,” followed by a further usually positive comment about the writing or the topic/plot.
Is it good so far?
To maintain a neutral or positive presence for the reader, negative comments about a book someone is reading or about its author is rarely welcome.
I always like a new perspective to consider.
This type of statement can serve as a final comment depending upon whether the reader has been sufficiently intrigued by this new person entering their life. Or, of course, it can be taken up by the reader and lead to a much longer conversation, too.
You might like this one that I’m reading.
It’s another contribution to the world from books. The more connections each of us can make with strangers or those with another camp, the better for us all.