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Bookstore Confidential

Dr. Deborah Ballard-Reisch, a communication expert at Wichita State University and “love doctor” on-the-side, tells single people to “Get out there and meet people. If you like sports, go to sporting events. Strike up conversations with individuals in grocery store lines,” she recommends. 

While it’s true that everyone must eat (and therefore, presumably, buys groceries) it’s not true that everyone is in an open or approachable mood while doing so. And sporting events are usually loud and involve assigned seating. I prefer thebookstore as the place to scope out potential singles.

I recently asked one client, “What type of books do you like to read? What’s your genre?” Whatever your answer is – that’s the aisle in the book store you should be camping out in.

You know those cozy club chairs the book stores provide for customers to curl up in as they sip their lattes and preview their purchases? Don’t sit in them. Nobody every approached and struck up a conversation with someone who was off in a corner in a club chair with a nose buried in a book. Stay in the aisle where your favorite form of fiction lives (or self-help, or sci-fi, or whatever). Speak – if only briefly – to every person who spends more than a few seconds there. Don’t worry about whether (s)he’s married or single, gay or straight. For now, you’re just exercising that dormant muscle called the “talking to strangers” muscle. It doesn’t matter whether (s)he’s attractive, intelligent, or your type. Just speak to them. Whether it’s to ask, “Have you read that one? I was wondering if it’s any good…” or offer an unsolicited opinion of “That author is amazing; I highly recommend that one!” you must make yourself break the ice. The absolute worst-case scenario is that this puzzled stranger thinks you are exceptionally friendly. The best-case scenario is that a potential date thinks you are well-read and exceptionally friendly. If the conversation progresses in a natural, organic way, then viola! You’ve struck bookstore gold! If it doesn’t, then you’ll feel that much more confident and at ease saying something to the next person who heads down your aisle.

Take it from me; it’s a low-risk way to flirt. Your odds are strongest on a weekend evening since fellow readers will come strolling through feeling relaxed (they’re off work!) and ready for some weekend reading. Also, the moms and dads bringing their kids to the bookstore (and who therefore will have a higher chance of being married – or at least highly distracted by their offspring) usually go during the day. Plus, you have the perfect prop; if anyone you don’t want to talk to starts paying too much attention, you can busily engage yourself in the cover jacket of a best seller and pretend to be so intellectually stimulated that you just can’t reciprocate their interest.

Remember, the worst that can happen is someone thinks you’re more outgoing than you really are and you end up with a good book to read – which in turn will make you a better, more interesting conversationalist when you DO snag a date! It’s a win-win!

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