I’m going to the eye doctor today. I’m going to stop going to docs, though. Every time I do, they find something wrong with me and want me to take another medicine.
However, since it seems I’ll be going to the doctors more and more, because they keep requiring “follow-up” exams at decreasing time periods, I am making a collection of “public books,” books it is okay to read, or pretend to read, in the waiting room. Here are the rules for public books:
First, small enough. It’s much more impressive to folks on the doc’s staff or other patients to have a big thick book, but they are hard to carry, especially if you have to run from your car to the doc’s office in the rain or snow, carrying an umbrella or on a walker. Last time, I took Margaret Donaldson’s Children’s Minds, about the ways we learn as young children. It’s a good and interesting book, and small in size, and one that fits # two [below], too.
2] Easy to explain to people who ask what you are reading. Of course, if you are reading a Lee Child or a Kate Atkinson, it’s easy enough to say, “It’s an action novel.” Some folks, however, will look down with scorn, especially in the anteroom of an upscale doc, like a plastic surgeon, at such an unworthy pursuit, so a book of poems by Billy Collins or Elaine Palencia is good. If someone says, “Is that poet any good?” just hand them the book and say, “Read page 113.” [Be sure to say a page number that is high enough that it doesn’t look like you brought this book along only to look intellectual.]
3] Don’t make it a book you can’t explain, like Sean Carroll’s The Boson at the End of the Universe. That book is impressive, but if some smart-alec kid sitting with her mom says, “What’s a boson?” or “How does the Geneva particle accelerator work?” you could be in trouble.
4] Take a book that will not embarrass you. Something by Bill Bryson is good.
5] Best to have a book you’re willing to recommend. Yes, it would be impressive to have Proust, but Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere or Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat will do nicely.
6] If you take a book in a foreign language, like Sartre’s Les Jeux Sont Fait, you can be assured you will be seated across from someone who says, Ah, mon cheri, je suis…” so don’t do that, even if it looks as impressive as snails.
7] Don’t take a book that will cause people to want to tell you about their religious or political leanings. Yes, Borg and Yancy are good reading, but their titles, like Reading the Bible Again for the First Time and The Jesus I Never Knew will cause people to move to the other side of the room or cause them to come sit right beside you to tell about their most recent visitation from an angel.
8] If you have a writer in the family, take her Learning to Swear in America or What Goes Up, even though you have read each of them four times. You can fake reading it so others will ask about it. If her last name is Kennedy instead of McFarland, you can push the book shamelessly and not be embarrassed.
I tweet once in a while as yooper1721. Now that I am no longer a Yooper, I would like to change my Twitter handle but don’t know how.
Another good book to take would be NOW THAT I HAVE CANCER I AM WHOLE: Reflections on Life and Healing for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them. Published by AndrewsMcMeel. Available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc. in Czech and Japanese as well as English.