Now you all know that I enjoy a special kind of torture, euphemistically called book clubs. I also love books of all kinds, including manga and young adult books. I love books. All books.
I’m seeing a trend now from my fellow “book lovers.” Apparently, there are rules, or at the least, guidelines. Who knew? For one, audiobooks aren’t considered books. Another that came up recently shocked me… and that’s really hard to do: Agatha Christie and her fellow funny, cozy mystery writers are scorned, much like sitcoms in television and McDonald’s to food critics. In fact, these cozy, rainy night comfort-food mysteries aren’t just scorned, they aren’t counted as books at all. They are sort of like a cheeseburger to a salad; empty calories for when you’re too lazy to read a real book. The fast food of literature, if you will.
Oh, there’s more.
Books are to be pristine, according to this new breed of book lover. We’re not supposed to dog ear books (“oh my god, what are you, a monster?” they exclaim).
If a book they’ve ordered from Amazon has a slightly bent or nicked edge, they return it for a perfect specimen and complain about the seller. Now, you might say, sure, sure, I just bought a new book, I want it to be perfection itself. Yeah, well, they do the same thing for the used books they purchase. I wonder if these people went to college? If they did, did they make notes on margins in their textbooks? Highlight sections? Did they purchase *gasp* used books with both of those things (and worse)? I’m amazed they survived.
If you read a lot, you quickly learn that used book sellers are your friend. The new breed of book lovers will lower themselves to buy used books, but they have extremely high expectations. Much higher than my own requirements, which are simple: must have all pages and some semblance of a binding.
The new book lovers consider reading as a serious competition. One woman said she had just finished her 60th book for the year, and it was February. You think I’m joking. I’m not. I believe in setting goals, but good grief. Did you even read a word of any of them? If I asked you to write a sixth-grade book report on one, could you? I doubt it. This isn’t just a fast reader, this is an accomplished skimmer. She definitely counts Cliff Notes as books.
This same woman belongs to the group of book lovers who buy a book and, halfway through, realize they had read it before. My fellow book club members make comments admitting to this foible frequently. So frequently, it’s almost funny. How on earth do you not know you’ve read a book by the end of page five? Reading is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby, an escape from life sometimes, not a marathon of forgotten tomes. Visits to the library must be very interesting with this woman. She probably roams the aisles loudly exclaiming, “Read it. Read it. Oh, wait! Nope. Read it.” I know I read a book just from looking at its cover or reading the insert. Maybe this is because I actually read the words of each book I choose. I dog-ear like a psycho, and the covers are bent enough to cause this new breed of new book lovers to have strokes.
I agree that library books and borrowed books should be handled with care, just as you would when you borrow anything from someone. If it’s not yours, you handle it carefully.
However, my own books? They’re well-worn. They’re read. They’re loved. And I remember every single one.
There is a place in my heart for all bookies, lovers of the written word, collectors of all kinds. I’m just too old-school to participate in competitions.
Which, by the way, I would win, hands down, lady.