I got a new book out of the library yesterday. They have a display by the door, themed according to season or the librarian’s whim, new releases or just books to highlight. Please, somebody check me out and read me, they say. I swept my arm along the row and took the whole lot.
Not really, just three.
One of them looks brand new, never read, pristine. It is thick, easily four hundred pages. Maybe more, I haven’t checked to be certain. If I do, I might read the end, because I do that to books sometimes. I prefer paperbacks as they are easier to hold up in bed, and they hurt less when they inevitably crash down towards my head as my eyelids struggle to stay open.
Besides, I am one of those people: book manglers. Hardcovers don’t mangle as easily. I dog ear pages, and I (God forbid) crack spines.
This book is pristine; I feel bad for it, being the first person to read it. I am struggling to hold the left side down with my plate over lunch, it’s that thick. A few pages in, I am hooked. I try and remember to take it upstairs for bedtime. I read faster, skimming, to get further into the story before my lunch is finished and it’s back to work time (or blogging, yes).
Alas, I turn the page and see it: a dog-ear. Someone has been here before me. The next page has words carefully underlined. Invigorating, convalescent, effervescent, efficacious, elixir, expectantly, epigrams. I wonder, why are these words in particular underlined, and not ones on previous pages? Why invigorating and expectantly, fairly common words? The previous reader seems to have gone no further, exhausted by the vowels and consonants lined up in unfamiliar arrangements.
My lunch is done. I put the book down mid-stream but satisfied. There will be much spine-cracking this evening with far less guilt involved. The book will eventually return, a little worse for wear, but letting other patrons know, I have been read. Read me.