Abby WONG ... On men who read
ABBY WONG, who believes no book is a bad book, downsized from being a high-flying financial consultant to a book buyer because she loves being surrounded by books. Want to attract attention, guys? Flaunt a book, she advises.
MEN are most attractive when they are reading. I don’t know about you, but I can get totally intoxicated by the sight of a man reading. Let me explain.
I once saw a man sitting on a bench in a shopping arcade, legs crossed, one hand holding a book in his lap, the other propping up his chin. He was reading quietly and intently, deeply engrossed, and to me, painfully attractive.
I imagined what must be going on in his head. Each word and line he read would send a signal to his brain, making him think, connect, judge, react, and opine. As he turned the last page, all those lines would have added up, and he would have gained new knowledge, perspective, ideas, inspiration, or even hope—none of which would have emerged had he gone for a drink or two instead of reading.
Unable to pull myself away from the beautiful sight of a man with a book in his hand, I walked back and forth in front of him, squinting to see the book’s title. I wanted to pin this image into my mind so I would remember it forever; the surreptitious glances I was throwing him was not enough to do that, so I began to stare right at him, boldly admiring the contours of a studious face.
Which bookstore does he frequent, I wondered? I wanted to meet him there. My mind was racing and would not stop speculating.
He looked up, as though hearing my inner voice. Setting the book down, he placed both hands on top of his head and moved it back and forth lightly, muttering to himself; then dived back into the sea of words. Again, he became deeply engrossed, and even more painfully attractive to me. He must have been thinking and analysing. His brain cells were connecting, his wisdom welling. Ooh, he was too delicious to watch!
I left, finally, but my soul must have stayed with him because I was in a daze the rest of the day. In an effort to seduce my bookish soul to return, I frantically called and met with some male friends whom I had thought were as book-loving as me.
But I realised book lovers did not equate genuine readers. It was the sight of the engrossed reader that my soul had fallen in love with. Having failed to find him after a few visits to bookstores in the area, I was despondent.
That’s when I arrived at a revelation about men: Reading changes our view of men. The concentration a true lover of books brings to the task of reading tones down their male virility, revealing a calm and composed disposition. Holding a book in one hand, another casually stuck in a pocket, men become contentedly self-possessed and charmingly nonchalant amidst the hustle and bustle around them.
More importantly, that they are grappling with materials of importance—for it must be important in some way to have been printed as a book!—reassures me that they have individuality, and beliefs and opinions of their own, and enhances my impression of men as intelligent and logical beings.
Such are the thoughts triggered in my mind by images of a man with a book in hand, a conflation of quietude, serenity, and intellectualism.
But this pleasing sight is a rarity, I’ve found, often confined to bookstores alone. So I’m pleading with men everywhere, read, lest the male book-reading species becomes extinct.
Men, please read while you are on trains, as the pretty sight helps alleviate my irritation when the trains break down, as they so often do these days. Lug along a book the next time you are out running errands, guys, for the view of you reading eases the agony of waiting in line.
A sock ‘em, rock ‘em energetic night out can be exciting, but a trip to your local bookstore once in a while may prove to be even more fruitful. Sift through the wonderful display, fellas, as the book that finds you may very well turn out to be an exquisite gem—and the sight of it in your hand might catch the eye of a female of the species, if you are looking to attract one.
And gentlemen, if you find yourself floundering in the massive sea of books, as yet unsure of what to read, these dozen titles below are potentially manna to nourish your literary soul:
1. American Psycho / Bret Easton Ellis
2. Atlas Shrugged / Ayn Rand
3. Brave New World / Aldous Huxley
4. Confessions of an Economic Hitman / John Perkins
5. High Fidelity / Nick Hornby
6. Money / Martin Amis
7. Nation / Terry Pratchett
8. Outliers / Malcolm Gladwell
9. The Alchemist / Paulo Coelho
10. The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale / Art Spiegelman
11. The Milliennium Series (comprising The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and
12. The Girl Who Played with Fire (the final book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, will be released in late 2009) / Stieg Larsson
13. A Wild Sheep Chase / Haruki Murakami
I hope my confession will convince at least one guy out there to not only wear a book when he goes out, but to also read it in public whenever there’s an opportunity to do so. He would greatly please spectators like myself, as well as, I am sure, many other women.
Reproduced from The Sunday Star of May 24, 2009