A person sits somewhere – perhaps a classroom, a dinner table, or a bench – contentedly reading. Someone else enters the scene, generally a stranger or a slight acquaintance. Feeling the silence awkward, the newcomer, in a need to make conversation, asks, “Wha’cha readin’?”
The reader rattles off the title of their book. It’s usually something the inquirer has never heard of, so the common response is, “Oh.” Then, since silence has fallen again, the inquirer asks, “Is it good?”
This time the reader probably glances up – very briefly – and responds with, “Yep,” or, “Pretty good,” (because who wants to admit to reading a book they don’t like?) before bowing their head over their book again.
The next question is fairly obvious: “What’s it about?”
The reader almost certainly looks up this time. By now, they’re probably somewhat annoyed; not only do they have to stop reading, but they’re feeling guilty for not being talkative. Besides, now they have to come up with a description of the book they may not be an eighth of the way through that’s satisfactory but not too long – on the spur of the moment! This finally accomplished, they find their place – again – and pray someone else will show up to talk to the inquirer.
We’ve all been on at least one side of this conversation. If you are the reader, I can only offer my sincerest condolences. If you are the inquirer, well, please know that the reader is usually absorbed in their book and would much prefer a slightly awkward silence to such an attempt at conversation.