Monday, July 23, 2012

Travel Advice

Last week we went to the library, one of my favorite places in Fort Worth.

We go a few times a month.  My recent game is to go through the fiction bookshelves.  Each visit I go to the next bookshelf and pick out a book.  The next visit I go to the very next bookshelf. Although sometimes I'll do multiple bookshelves in one visit.

Last week I picked up a book from one of the B shelves. Then I decided to go to the young adult section. I vaguely had a currently popular book in mind. I didn't know the exact name or the author, but I figured maybe it would jump out at me.

When I got to the section, a man asked if I was looking for something to read.

I was a bit startled but also pleased. I was excited to find someone else who liked books so much, and one that was interested in talking to me. Also, I figured maybe he could actually help me. I like teen books, but I'm often overwhelmed by all the titles out there. What series are the genuine loved babies of talented writers, and what books were written simply to ride on the popularity of Twilight, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games?

I accepted the man's offer to help me find books.

At first, I was charmed by the man's enthusiasm.

He pointed to a vampire series but unfortunately the first book was missing.

Soon after he went to a dragon series. I told him I didn't really like dragon books.

He seemed kind of annoyed by this.

Then he started getting on my nerves, because he kept talking and talking.  His enthusiasm started to become draining instead of helpful.

He was also completely disinterested in my input.  He didn't want to know what books I've read and what I like or dislike.  I realize now he didn't really want to play Dina-book matchmaker.  What he really wanted to do was talk about his reading experiences.  He wanted to share a bit of his life with someone who would listen. 

I ended up getting two books he recommended even though I didn't feel all that excited about it.

I tried reading both of them today. I found them both unappealing and quit after the first few pages.   I'm not sure if it's the book themselves that put me off or my annoyance with the library man.

It's probably a little of both.  And there's also a fact that the books were rebound reading, because I just finished a book by an Aussie writer that I REALLY loved.  

I like finding my own books.

I don't mind getting book advice from other people if they know what I like.  Or at least they TRY to know what I like.

I would have been more impressed with the library man if he had stopped to ask me. What books do you usually like?  What are your favorites?  What have you read lately?  


Now I'm stupidly nervous about returning to the library.  I'm worried library man will be there.  I'm worried he'll remember me, and I'm worried he'll ask how I liked the books.   I'm worried he'll be annoyed that I quit reading them so soon.  I'm worried he'll bombard me with more book advice.

It's a little irrational, yes.  On the other hand, the library man reads a lot, so it's possible he spends a lot of time at the library.

Anyway, my feeling about book advice is very similar to how I feel about travel advice.

I talk about travel plans and people become very eager to tell me where I should go. You must go here. You have to go here.  You'll totally love this place!  

Sometimes the advice is spot on, and that's helpful.  It could be that the person knows me well, or it  could be that the person has similar taste to me.

Sometimes the person has my interests at heart, but they don't know me as much as they think they do. Or maybe they've misunderstood me.   

Other times, though, I think these travel advisers are like the man at the library. They're not really wanting to give me advice.  They're wanting to talk about their own past travels. By talking about my travel plans, I'm bringing up a subject they've been itching to talk about.

All this is fine if I didn't feel so much pressure to please people. 

I actually get nervous about going to Australia and not going to places that people have recommended to me.

I worry they'll feel rejected or take my chosen plans as an insult.

Well...I think what I've learned through life is that people really love to talk about themselves and their experiences. Sometimes they do this and put it in under the guise of advice. This goes with the subjects of traveling, books, parenting, marriage, and all kinds of things.

I guess my job is to be a good listener. Let them talk. Then go my own way.

That being said, I'm not exactly going my own way on our next Australia trip. We're going to Melbourne. And part of the reason we're going is I've felt so much pressure to go from various people.

However, the main reason we're going is to visit friends. If they weren't there, I think we'd probably go elsewhere.

Well, and Tim's been wanting to go to Melbourne.   I definitely want to compromise in that regards, since it's nice enough that he's willing to be dragged off to Australia for the third time.

I do have moments-days—where I get excited about Melbourne, but often I feel apathetic towards it.   It doesn't attract me the way that Sydney does.

I guess what I'm trying to say is it makes me feel better to think that we're going to Melbourne because Tim wants to and because I want to see our friends.   It makes me feel kind of blah when I imagine we're going to Melbourne because I gave into pressure.

And this is one of those rare cases where I SO want to be totally wrong. I want to love Melbourne and have a great time there. I don't want to go there, have an awful time, and regret that we didn't just spend more time in Sydney.

In case you didn't know....

I really love Sydney.  


  1. I like Belinda Alexandra's books. They are my kind of fiction because they are easy to follow, well written, and have some history woven into the stories.

    I don't mind that you like Sydney, Harry Potter and vampire stories. Someone has to.

    Perhaps before you go back to the library you should practice speaking non stop for 15 minutes without drawing a breath over the top of someone who is trying to talk to you. Show him that you are not polite and not interested in anything he has to say. When he says "you should read this book" tell him your pet rabbit just died. Ask him has he ever had a pet rabbit and if he tries to answer you tell him you hate red cars. Ask him if he likes red cars then when he tries to answer tell him you hate spiders. If he talks louder, you talk even louder than him. That sort of thing. I know you can do it.

  2. lol.

    And I'm laughing because I talk to someone who does exactly that!

    Well, not exactly. I don't think she raises her voice. And she breaths. But she does ask question, and then interrupts.

    I'm glad we both like Belinda Alexandra. Have you read all of her books? Do you have a favorite?

    I think my love for historical fiction is beginning to grow. It's nice to be entertained and educated at the same time.

  3. I've had amnesia since I can't remember when...

    The great thing about fiction, for me, is that every time I read the same book it is as if I have never read it before. I struggle to remember a lot of stuff. So now I have to fess up: I KNOW I've read white gardenia [if that's the one about China] and I think I've read Tuscan Rose and maybe the lavender thingy.

    Most recently I read the earrings one. It wasn't so well written -for me- because it went backwards and forwards in time and while that might not bother other people I am very easily confoozed. On the other hand, I loved it, because it took me further inside the spanish civil war than I've ever been able to get before. Maybe I just didn't like it totally because I can't imagine anyone in their right mind wanting to be a ballerina, but that's where it started. 10 out of 10 for the sp civil war stuff, though. maybe even 11.

    I guess the fiction angle gives me a chance to test what I think I understand of the facts. Maybe each type complements the other.

    Now, about that person who asks questions then interrupts... If you still talk to her, then maybe if you do it to library man he will still be happy to talk to you. You've just shot my assumptions down in flames. Bugga.
    Tell you what, why don't you try it and let me know how it goes? PS what sort of hairdo does he sport, and what was he wearing? Does he wear spectacles and what is his BMI? How can I form a completely subjective and unfounded opinion of him without these vital clues?

    Sorry, what were you saying?

  4. You're bad at remembering books. So am I.

    I'm also bad at remember what people look like....I'm horrible at descriptions. All I remember is he was black and some of his clothes were a bit torn. But I can't remember where they were torn.

    I bet he was taller than me, but that's not saying much. I think most men are.

    I can't picture the man in my head.

    Are you good at describing people? I know you're good at describing people's actions...behaviors. Are you good at remembering and describing what they look like?

    It would be funny to see library man's reaction if I did the talk-too-much experiment on him.

    What if I dragged him around the library and recommended my books to him?

    I think if he was open to that; my opinion of him would become higher.

    I should give him the benefit of the doubt; but I imagine him saying something cocky like. "I already know what books I like" I don't really need any suggestions."

    Then I can respond. Well, then actually....I do too. And I have enough on my reading list. Thank you. Bye.

    I'm having this whole imaginary relationship with Library Man. And I'll probably never see him again.

  5. I want you to love Melbourne too... I'm scared you won't and then it will be all my fault but you'll pretend to love it for my sake. lol I am interested to listen to your honest comparison of Sydney and Melbourne once you've been here.

    It will be interesting because you aren't staying right in the city like you do in Sydney. It is easily accessible of course for you but it will put a different slant on the holiday no doubt.

  6. Tracey,

    I think I'll love Melbourne for Melbourne. But if by some crazy chance I find it completely crap; I'll love it at least for the fact that we get to see you there.

    I think you're right about it being different for us because we're not staying right in the middle of the city. It could make things worse. Or it could make them better.

    Or maybe it would be equal.

    It's like Hawaii. Staying away from the city was really fun; but I also enjoyed our time in the city.