How can one find love in a bookstore? This has recently been explored in some fashion in an episode called Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 1 of Louie (one of my TV suggestions here). The episode is quite nice. To come back to the real world, we need some filtering mechanism. Personally, I have never tried any of what I am suggesting. These are merely ideas based on two assumptions:

  1. You are really looking for love and getting laid is just a delightful bonus.
  2. You actually read books or at least your preferences about them could be revealed (honestly) through elicitation.
  3. The last priority should be all those idiosyncratic factors such as looks, taste in clothing, music, etc. To me, these are best left as surprises–so that you will have something else to talk about in the future (if it reaches there).

From these two assumptions alone, you could already filter out a large segment of singles. The idea is to use knowledge or lack of knowledge of book material (and references) to pin down your willingness to date someone else. So some questions come into mind:

  1. Which bookstore should you choose?
  2. Which section should you be hanging around?
  3. What book should you have in your hand? Should you have at least read a part of it?

The first question is a essentially a spam filter. You need to remember that there is a particular type of person who knows their bookstores. I am not sure what the profile is but chances are that person is going to be at least of the collector type, probably educated with university background, employed (I think this is a plus, don’t you?) and maybe a bit pretentious but inquisitive at times (or you are so darned unlucky and you get a hipster douche). You must be able to spot casual visitors–it seems safe to assume that casual visitors would be buying based solely on bestseller lists or they would just be there for the coffee. That is why you want a bookstore that is strictly dedicated to the sale of books alone. It never hurts to check the people having coffee, though (but don’t keep your hopes up).

If ever there is a second hand book section, they should at they very least be organized correctly (Trust me, you would know). I think the more esoteric the bookstore, the tighter the spam filter. Of course, there are false positives and false negatives here. That is why you need the answers to the next two questions.

Which section? Hmmm.. Depends. I think contrasting interests would give a nice start and I am assuming that conversation would be smoother in this case (just look at people who disagree in a civilized manner). The business section may be a good way to eliminate choices–this means you need to know good business books because 3/4 of them are crap. Strike up a conversation and see for yourself if they could intelligently articulate the ideas from a book they have read. You can always check this out when you get home (and never call unless you promised to).

The fiction section is much harder to use as a spam filter unless you are a voracious reader with some good taste but with a little above average understanding of the books. For instance, if you are the type who is interested in, say, the American dream and its discontents, you should have done your homework. You should have read a healthy dose of fiction AND nonfiction. For fiction, Death of a Salesman or The Grapes of Wrath should be in your list (though they are a bit dated). For nonfiction, you should have economic history selections–Mokyr, McCloskey. You can use the list as a starting point for what you want to see in your potential date or what you don’t want to see in that person. If you ever get to visit their place, look at the bookshelf! Fifty shades of gray in their bookshelf? Tough.

The bottom line is that it is important that you have actually read the books in some measure! If not, your date can always catch you. Bullshit will not work. It is also important that you start from YOUR interests not your potential date’s interests. If you like jazz a lot, having read some jazz history books might be a plus. The word YOUR is key. The idea is for you to truthfully reveal yourself as multidimensional as possible. If you bullshit, you have effectively projected yourself into one dimension, a douchebag.

From these books, you can segue to almost anything! It would be nice to know what kind of person goes to a particular section of the bookstore. Entrepreneurs out there–might be nice to do this. In fact, it would be nice to make matches based on book preferences, say one fiction and one nonfiction, then make a short writeup for both. Might be a nice addition to a dating service.

Last question–This is dealer’s choice, really. But if you need a rough knowledge of the book, turn to page 99.

Of course, the ideas here are tentative at best. I actually doubt whether people will put themselves out there, but given the finiteness of time, might as well. At least it is a step up from just literacy!