GUEST POST: Missing an Opportunity to Peacock with Literature
I recently attended a panel called What Is the Future of the Independent Bookstore? that may have more aptly been named Oh Sweet Jesus E-Readers Are Going to Kill Real Books Forever. Panelist (and hipster hero) Jonathan Ames went so far as to predict that books will become antiques.
But as this blog has already astutely pointed out, “p-books” (physical books, natch) fulfill a function that e-readers cannot: They help h-kids impress people. (Not that they care what you think.)
Therefore, I’d like to present a Handy Hipster Gift Guide for books. (And, obvi, buy at your local second-hand or indie bookstore. Maybe even hand it over in the bag so he or she will be physically able to accept it.)
To score chicks/dudes on the subway: Two things to remember here: The title/author needs to be clear and readable (how else will someone write a Missed Connection about her?) and the book has to be light enough to hold in one hand (nothing sadder than a dude struggling to hold up a ginormous hardcover copy of Moby Dick—yeah, we get it, you’re reading Moby Dick). In terms of content, your pal needs to attract attention. One tack: appropriating a book that has been championed by the opposite gender. Another is reading something that was once banned (especially helpful if you’re looking strictly for some action—subversion is sexy).
Wishlist: Give Me Your Heart by Joyce Carol Oates (for male readers). Anything by Bukowski (for female readers—though be warned, she may reel in a dude who’s into vomiting/crying). Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. The Story of O.
To be better liked at work: It doesn’t appear that your bud’s bleary coffee breaks, bedhead and strong smell of smoke are doing him any favors at the office. (Hipster at the office, you say? Oh yes. Every office has one.) Here’s your chance to get him to read something borderline mainstream, if only so that a supervisor will see it displayed in his cube and strike up a convo. But it still has to be good enough that he doesn’t hate himself post-5 pm.
Wishlist: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Zone 1 by Colson Whitehead. Chipmunk Seeks Squirrel by David Sedaris.
To display on the coffee table: The coffee table affords your hipster friend the opportunity to impress both her under- and over-literate friends. The best picks are quirky debut novels by Brooklyn-based authors, who, oh yeah, she always sees at her favorite brunch place in Greenpoint.
Wishlist: We the Animals by Justin Torres. Swamplandia by Karen Russell. The Adults by Alison Espach.
If you get a slight smirk and nod of acknowledgement, you’ve done your job well. Just don’t expect anything in return. Your hipster friend will most likely pull a George Costanza, only instead of pretending to donate to a fake charity in your name, he’ll instead promise to commemorate you for all time in one of his songs/novels/poems. Uh, thanks.
Julia Bartz is the creator of Book Stalker, where she writes about readings around New York.