I take a book with me just about everywhere I go. I carry it in a backpack that I also take almost everywhere and which makes me look ridiculously nerdy. I am not much bothered with that, however. (Aside: backpacks are far more useful than briefcases because they keep your arms free. Someone should develop an overpriced stylish backpack that business people can wear with their suits: briefcases will die out.)
I carry a book around because I detest boredom and idleness. Whenever I need to wait somewhere for some reason, I take out my book and enrich my mind. Time spent waiting idly frustrates me, it makes me grumpy and irritable and more prone to lashing out. I want to avoid that and one of the ways I do so is to carry around a book.
Yesterday I stood around in a bank queue for 30 minutes only to find when I got to the front, I was in wrong queue (wouldn’t it be nice if banks actually had signage that allowed you to choose the right queue beforehand?) . I just calmly walked to the right queue and continued reading about Connectors in Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point.” I will even read in a long queue at the grocery store. I read if I have arrived early for an appointment, or someone else is later, whenever I am asked to wait by a bureaucratic official, when I’m on public transport.
I find that popular science books are particularly useful for this task. They are not so hard to read that you get frustrated because you can’t concentrate hard enough and you do not get so engrossed that you lose track of the real world around you (well, mostly). Because I still live in the stone age and don’t use internet on my phone I tend to write down words and concepts to look up on a piece of paper for later reference.
I am always the only person with a book in hand. But at least I have a reason to smile. The times I forget my book it takes a great effort not be frustrated. I read whatever is at hand (brochures, for instance), I observe the people around me, imagine what their story is. I try to make as much of my time as I can. Other people don’t seem to reason like this. They don’t walk around with books in a nerdy-looking backpack. I feel a little sorry for other people.