Author of “Never Lend a Book You Love to Someone You Only Like” Shares his Inspiration

Garrett Carlson, is a Stonewall Jackson High School teacher, author and Write By the Rails member.

Garrett Carlson celebrated the launch of his first book, a series of essays entitled “Never Lend a Book You Love to Someone You only Like” to a group of about 50 friends, colleagues and literary fans at Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant in Haymarket last Saturday evening.

Carlson, who is an English teacher at Stonewall Jackson High School, an author and single-twenty-something male living in Manassas, said the essays were prompted by his search for love in the modern age.

“I was in a six year relationship. It ended eight months before I ended up taking a job and moving here,” said Carlson, who studied English and literature in Buffalo, New York before moving to Northern Virginia.

As a result of his long relationship, the return to the dating pool was not only daunting, it had a Rip Van Winkle effect on him. When Carlson first dated, people still called each other over the phone. (Granted, they were always cell phones. He’s only 27.) However, newly single in the age of IM meant he had to navigate the world of texting and all the social etiquette it involved.

“There are protocols for texting,” he said. “[It’s a] whole new environment again for me. Sometimes it’s really bizarre to me. There are, like, really weird rules.”

Rules included not texting for three days after a date, and after that, keeping it simple and nonchalant.

But beyond providing a peek into what dating is like for Millennials, “Never Lend a Book..” is also a kind of love story. Carlson is perhaps the male version of Carrie Bradshaw, a self-described romantic, hoping to find his other half, and musing about life and love along the way.

“Throughout all my complaining, there are some really romantic pieces. My ultimate goal is to find that one person,” Carlson explains.

But, somehow among those texts, twerks and Instagram images, perhaps young women today have lost their sentimentality, which somewhat explains the title of the book. Carlson said he’d often loan a young woman he was seeing one of the books from his library, only to learn that was a bad idea. While he perhaps never saw the woman again, he was left pining for the book.

“Yes, it is specifically about one person. I gave away my favorite book. [This woman] was over my apartment and pulled a book off my shelf. I told her it was my favorite book. I just had so much written inside of it, and she took it. I just never got it back,” he explains.

Later, he tracked it, and her, down, only to be met with a ‘who are you, again?’

In a way, it encompasses the central conflict of the book: how much do you share? Is it folly to share something so personal- to put your innermost thoughts and feelings out there thread-barren to someone who may not be receptive? Is it brave, or is it fool-hearted?

Carlson has since learned his lesson- to some degree. And he expects the reader will see some growth throughout his essays.

“At the beginning of the book, I’m working so hard at meeting somebody,” he explains. “But at the end of the book, I’m recognizing I need to love myself instead of putting someone else in front of me.”

He also promises the book was not written with any end game in mind. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes connecting disparity episodes in his life. Though not organized in chronological order, he believes the progression stays true to the thematic arc.

“At least in my head, there is a string of a narrative of me growing up and maturing a bit,” he explains.

Sharing the stories with his students has been another challenge. It meant putting himself out there, sharing a little of his personal life, and admitting he’s not perfect in front of the very people to whom he’s suppose to be the authority figure.

However, Carlson took that risk, saying he wants to be a role model for his students and hopes they will one day pursue similar frightening pursuits.

In that there is a sweet irony. As much as Carlson learned that he should not lend out his favorite novel, the one marked up with his most private thoughts, here he is taking a bigger leap of faith, self-publishing some of his deepest thoughts for the world to see.

And, although he said self-publishing has given him control over every aspect of the book from its cover to the editing and marketing process, now it will rest in the hands of others. It will be theirs to mark-up, treasure, or casually give to someone they may never see again.

But he is hopeful it will resonate with people, men or women, no matter what their age.

“I’d like to believe there is something for everybody. I wanted to [write] something for people to relate to,” he said.

Garrett Carlson’s series of essays, “Never Lend a Book You Love to Someone You Only Like” is available at

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Category: Arts & Entertainment

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