Picture this: You walk into a local bar, the lights are dim and people are chatting at the end of a long work day. As you go to order a drink, across the room you spy someone sitting alone, sipping their favorite drink — and reading a book.
According to one viral tweet, “if you’re someone who brings a book to the bar… nobody likes you.”
Twitter quickly erupted in debate, with strong feelings on both sides of the argument. While the original poster has since apologized and clarified its meaning, the tweet has sparked an interesting what-would-you-do thought experiment: Would you ever bring a book to a bar?
Even Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager had some thoughts. The two debated the topic on TODAY with Hoda and Jenna Friday.
For Jenna, the known bookworm and book club host, the idea sounded like a dream.
“My idea of heaven is to be alone, in a bar, with a book,” Jenna said.
Jenna thinks of it as a moment of “luxurious” alone time, and spoke highly of the moment where she can flip through her book while sipping a bright chardonnay.
But Hoda seemed unconvinced and painted a different picture. Bars are traditionally social activities, with a very specific vibe in popular culture defined by dark lighting and fraternization, Hoda argued.
Other settings, such as a restaurant, are different, Hoda argued. While some struggle with the seemingly-taboo idea of eating alone in a restaurant, Hoda finds it completely normal, especially in New York City. There’s also just “something” to the act of walking into a movie theater, buying a ticket and watching it all on your own, she said.
Jenna, however, admitted she’d never done either, outside of dining at the airport. Growing up with a twin sister and being surrounded by security left her without much time spent with just herself, she said, even though it’s her favorite way to recharge.
So Hoda ran Jenna through a scenario: She walks into a restaurant, is escorted to her seat and sits there alone. Jenna closed her eyes, putting herself in that situation. But when Hoda added the caveat that she would have “no phone and no book,” her eyes sprang open.
“No, no, no,” she said, later adding, “I’d feel happier if I had a book.”
For Jenna, books aren’t just an escape, they are also as comforting as a friend.
“Books are company,” she said. “It’s a way to be alone with something, somebody, be in a story."
While finding time to recharge alone can be difficult with children, Hoda cautioned against the "death scroll." Spending that time on social media is the opposite of relaxing, she said, it's draining. Instead, Hoda recommends playing her new favorite game Wordle, the word-guessing phenomenon.
"Candy Crush is over," Hoda joked, as she still has the app downloaded on her phone.
"I don't even know you!" Jenna said.