"What are you doing today?"
Underwhelmed silence. I feel slightly uncomfortable.
"It's a really great book!" I say, over-compensating. "And I'm going to blog... And shop - there's sandwich fillings we're short of."
How do I get across just what I mean by reading? Because it's not only that there is a subtext, there's an entire sub-culture signified by the word. Machiavelli, apparently, used to set a table for two, and dress up in suitable costume, before opening a book: that way he showed his respect to the author - they were eating together.
So here's a list of what I do when I read, sat in the caff with a cup of tea and a pencil in hand:
1. I am reading;
2. I am brainstorming;
3. I am creatively interacting, with the text and people around me;
4. I am performing a piece of art called 'The Reader";
5. I am using my time constructively while I wait for the Church to catch up;
6. I am inviting interruption;
7. I am promoting books, and all things bookish;
8. I am occupying a seat in the caff, thereby contributing to its appearance as the kind of place you might enjoy reading a book in (but I don't get free coffee for this);
9. I am not trashing the streets, or mouldering in front of daytime TV;
10. I am sending out love and peace vibes;
11. I am intriguing people;
12. I am blending in;
13. I am deconstructing the prevalent assumption that to be a worthwhile member of society you have to tick boxes, stress over work, and live a line on someone else's bankroll;
14. I am dancing (inside, textually);
15. I am reducing my carbon footprint;
16. I am growing neural connections;
17. I am tending my marginalia;
18. I am travelling, by ink and bleached wood-fibre, miles and miles;
19. I am a programme running on the analogue internet;
20. I am a librarian without walls...