Books You Should Never Read in Public

Have you ever been reading in a public place and guffawed loudly enough to get judgmental glances from innocent passersby?

I have. More times than I’d like to admit.

To save you from similar embarrassment, here’s a list of books I suggest never reading in public.



Life of Pi by Yann Martel

If you’ve read it, you’ll know exactly what moment I’m talking about–Pi, on the island, slowly unwrapping leaves. Yah. If you haven’t yet read it (you should), I won’t tell you what it is. I exclaimed. Yelled, really. Loudly. Thankfully, that time, I was safe at my brother’s house and most everyone else was downstairs. (They still heard me, but they’re used to me there.)


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

You might, like me, blubber your way through this penned treasure. Thankfully, I was at home on my couch for most of this one. I suggest keeping a kleenex box close by.


Love is a Mix-Tape by Rob Sheffield

Oh. My. I had to make myself leave the coffee shop. I could not hold it together. Tears. Snorts of laughter. I stopped breathing at least twice. The glasses came off more than once. I can’t even tell you how much I hope I never run into any of the good patrons who were enjoying their coffee at the South Bend Chocolate Cafe that night.


Year Zero by Rob Reid

Twice, I lost it completely: Clippy and the Teddy Bears. Which, serendipitously, could be a band name. Clippy was in public, unfortunately–in a quiet hallway where studious students and other academicians were attending a conference. The Teddy Bears was at home. Even then, I thought I could just move on without losing it. I was wrong. Gave it a good five-minute recovery, and then moved on.


The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

That moment with the axe, I tell you, I yelled. In a coffee shop. Of course. I’m pretty sure my eyes almost popped out, too. And then I looked away, eyes shut. Like I could avoid seeing more if I weren’t looking at it. But the imagination was already engaged, so it was a futile attempt.


Any book written by Jasper Fforde

This man kills me every time. His characters’ antics (even just their names!), his sense of humor, his quirky storylines–I laugh out loud at least once every three pages.


East, West: Stories by Salman Rushdie

I’m just going to warn you now: you will get to the last page (not realizing it’s the last page), turn the page, and then find out that it’s all over. It’s not that the last story needs closure. It’s just that you’ll want to keep on reading this exact book for the rest of your life; you will never want it to end. I shed tears. I was, again, in a local coffee shop.

What has been your most embarrassing public-reading moment? Please, do tell. It’ll normalize me just a little bit. Please?


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