26 August 2014

How to Make the Friends You Need

Of course, I'm referring to book-loving people, A.K.A. the people who should be your friends (if they aren't already).

Haven't you heard? Surrounding yourself with literature lovers is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. WebMD has published an article describing the physical and psychological benefits of maintaining a friendship. But everybody knows that friendship is far more worthwhile if it's done with the right people. One of the foundations of friendship, believe it or not, is common interests. (Who knew, right?)

Admittedly, my own word choice immediately reminds me of this line.
Image via is-it-dawn-yet.tumblr.com.

That's why it's so simple to meet people who like books: lots of people (although, the number is less than it should be) read!

But there are lots of problems that could get in the way. If you're a student right now in the midst of August, maybe school is on hiatus at the moment, which downsizes your selection of potential friends to choose from. Maybe you're overwhelmed with responsibilities pertaining to your career, academics, family, or extracurricular activities. Perhaps you have social anxiety like me (in which case, I encourage you to find support).

Have no fear! Allow me to offer you plenty of suggestions to meet your newest (and arguably most valuable) friends:

Announce your presence.

What's the first thing we notice about a new person? For most of us, it's their physical appearance.

Put yourself out there by wearing clothes that declare your passion for literature. This could pertain to a specific book that you're deeply interested in, or to something more general (i.e. your hobby of reading).

You have a range of items to choose from: not only clothing, but also accessories and supplies. Whatever your preference is, there is a plethora of items out there to suit it. Do you like jewellery? Hats? Scarves? Awesome! If not, there are also things you can try out, like bookmarks or stationery based upon your favourite stories.

If you're skilled, you can experiment with your own tools and crafts to create original work. All you need is a good idea, a sewing machine or knitting needles, some fabric, and maybe some other resources.

Try your hand at cosplay, too. It's a difficult pastime, but a remarkable and unique one. Whether you make your own outfits or purchase ones that mimic an admired character's, you will be noticed.

The Internet is a great resource for this. Browse stores like Etsy for inspiration, and for more cool items, read this post and this one.

Spend time in the places that matter most.

You might have to rearrange your schedule, but it could very well pay off to begin hanging out in certain places.

Visit the bookstore once a weekend. Wander the library, and investigate the sections that wouldn't normally catch your eye. That way, if you don't meet somebody nice, at least you'll go home with a new book.

Agree to keep in touch.

Well, if you're not sending messages via those The Great Gatsby-style envelopes that I linked you to earlier in this post, you should find another way to have regular correspondence.

It could mean something as simple as talking on the telephone or sending e-mails every once in a while. If you see each other at school or work, even better.

Be creative with this! The two of you should keep your eyes peeled for upcoming book releases or film premieres that you can attend together. Or, host a party with a literary theme.

Stay open-minded.

It's great to find somebody who shares has read and fallen in love with your favourite books. (And if you meet a person whose all-time favourite is the same as your all-time favourite, they're a keeper.)

But sometimes it's better to acquaint yourself with people who haven't even heard of your favourite books. There might be other books that you've both read, which is a good way to begin the conversation, but one surefire method of keeping the conversation going is to discuss other books.

Are there any currently-popular stories that they, or neither of you, have read? Talk about that.

Have they seen a book-to-film adaptation that you haven't yet? Ask them how they would describe it, whether it stayed true to the original story, and if it would be worth watching again.

As your relationship slowly grows in depth, you can ask questions like "What was your first favourite book?" or "What was the first book that made you cry?"

The most ideal question you can ask a prospective friend is: "What are you reading right now?" Then, sit back and watch the enthusiasm grow in their eyes as they begin to recount the most recent object of their affection (so to speak). Don't forget to listen!

Not everybody is going to like everything you do. The most significant thing to remember is that you should always respect what they enjoy--and if they don't respect your interests, it's perfectly justified for you to stop being their friend. (This holds true for all situations, not only book-related ones.)

Do you have a good friend who loves reading? How did you meet him or her? Describe it in the comments!

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