Ten Kinds of Book People It’s Impossible to Have a Conversation With

Famous Authors

The Book Clubber. This person can’t stop talking about The Kite RunnerThe Devil in the White CityThe Help, and Gone Girl. Airport bookstores meet all her needs. You suspect that books not containing discussion guides terrify her.

The Fast Reader. He likes books that you can read quickly, and he reads them quickly. He goes through a dozen different mystery series a year, and dips into science fiction when he has to. He has lots of positive things to say about books, but only in the most general terms.

The Hyper-Relevant Reader. If it’s on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, it’s on her nightstand. Whenever you mention an author, she asks what you think about the author’s newest book. She never thinks it’s as good as the author’s previous book.

The Used Bookstore Guy. This guy is notable for his questionable personal hygiene and his outrageously esoteric, strangely random tastes. He’ll be in line in front of you at Half-Price Used Books, carrying a Bruce Chatwin first edition, a Joyce Carol Oates paperback you’ve never heard of, a field guide to South American insects, and an analysis of the 1988 Presidential election. You wonder whether he’s read every other book in existence and these are all he has left.

The Book Hoarder. She only reads books in hard copy, and she keeps every one of them in her one-bedroom apartment. She can speak intelligently and passionately about her books, but it’s impossible to concentrate on the conversation because you’re constantly afraid that you’ll step on a long-forgotten cat, a bookshelf will fall and crush you, or a spark from the oven will hit the cookbook shelf and send the whole place up in flames.

The PBS Person. Every episode of Scientific American FrontiersKen Burns American StoriesMasterpiece, or Mystery! sends him running to Barnes & Noble for a stack of books he’ll never read. If you ask him about any book he owns, he can talk with vast enthusiasm for exactly 30 seconds.

The YA Freak. She thinks books for young adults are the best, and she raves about all the books your 12-year-old cousin complains about having to read for school. She loves to talk about how complex teenagers are and how fascinating their lives really are, according to 43-year-olds who write books about them.

The Incongruous Philosopher. You only discover this bro is a book person when, in the middle of a conversation about college football, he mentions his alma mater and then starts going on about the history teacher who introduced him to Spinoza. Have you read A Short Treatise on God, Man and His Well-Being? No? Well, you should. It’s fucking awesome.

The Lit Scenester. She’s typically found smoking American Spirits outside all the hottest readings by local authors and by national authors whose pants she thinks she can get into. Ask her about any of their books and she’ll blow smoke out of the side of her mouth, then say, “It’s all right.”

The Writer. When you compliment his newest book he nods and politely thanks you, then takes a cigarette from the lit scenester and asks her what she’s doing later.

- Jay Gabler