Is It Ever Okay to Flirt with Someone While They’re Reading?

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Dear Literary Lady,
Is it ever ok to flirt with someone while they’re reading?
K.C., New York, NY

Dear K.C.,

As a general rule, no. It is not ok to flirt with someone while they’re reading.

If you saw anyone else reading a book would you be compelled to interrupt their reading reverie? No, probably not. You wouldn’t want to intrude unnecessarily on their literary experience. So why is it any different when a person you find attractive is reading? Just because you find someone appealing think they have romantic partner potential doesn’t mean the rules of etiquette are any different. Respect the reading.

Reading is one of the last bastions of “me” time. It’s an escape from your surroundings and a little time to unplug from a dozen apps where people ping and pine for your attention. Yes, reading often occurs in public, where one continues to see and be seen by other people, but that only emphasizes the message that reading a book sends: “I just don’t want to interact with my environment right now.

Here’s another reason you don’t flirt with someone with their nose in a book: you might kill their buzz. You wouldn’t hit on someone in the middle of a movie, because that would interrupt their enjoyment of an experience that requires some suspension of reality. Same with books. When you wrench someone from their imaginary world of adventure, romance, or intrigue, you’d better have something infinitely more fascinating to say.

There are, however, exceptions to every rule. Here are the some possible exceptions to the rule of not flirting with someone while they’re reading:

1. When they’re reading in a club or a raucous bar or any social event at which the main objective is to meet potential romantic partners.

2. If you’re also coincidentally reading the same book. Because that’s a serious sign your stars are aligned.

3. If you’re the author of the book they’re reading. Because it would be awesome to meet you.

4. If you’re at a wedding. Because it’s a unique occasion that celebrates love, and because it’s a little odd to be reading a book at a wedding.

5. If they’re at a bookstore debating the purchase of a book. Because sharing your literary insights and reading recommendations might be helpful.

6. If it might be true love. Because then it’s worth a shot.

Whatever the situation, just remember to be respectful in your romantic overtures. If they seem like they’d rather be reading, let them be.

Love and Paperbacks,
Literary Lady

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