Wednesday, February 02, 2005

A By-The-Book Affair

I’m not one of those people who can casually pick up a book and leave it anytime, not caring if they’ve finished reading it.

It takes a lot of effort for me to find a book to read: cruising it at the bookstore, eyeing it on the shelf, walking nonchalantly, giving it a small smile as I pass by.

When I finally summon enough courage to approach it, I go tentatively, studying the cover, perusing the blurb, flirting with the first page. Sometimes I can get very daring and read an entire chapter. Scandalous! The clerk eyes me disapprovingly behind the counter.

When the plot clicks, I get this rush, this giddy feeling. I have to rush to pay so I can go home and get into bed with it. I spread its pages apart and dive in. I am enthralled, passionately reading all night.

In the morning I wake up and it is lying tenderly on my chest. Not just one for a nightstand.

When a book is really good, I keep it forever. It occupies a very special space in my bookshelf, in my life.

But once in a while, I get a book that starts out good but starts to turn bad. I have made a bad judge of its cover.

I find it hard to abandon a book. I usually stick with it to the bitter end. I am co-dependent that way: even though I derive no more pleasure with it, I cannot untangle myself. I am bound to it.

I try to negotiate with it. Another few pages I say, maybe it will get better.

But it doesn’t.

I can get really violent. I will slam the book close in disgust, or throw it physically across the room. But in the cold light of the morning, I am ashamed when I see its cover bruised, battered, lying there, forlorn.

A friend may see the book and ask me what happened. An accident, I say, the door...

But even though I carefully consider each book I encounter, most often, I get this feeling, like it wasn't meant to be. You know the kind: you have fun while it lasts but when The End comes, you part ways amicably.

Just another by-the-book affair.

I may bump into it in a resale store, or see it listed on eBay, or maybe hanging on to another reader’s hands.

I try to remember why it didn't work out. But my memory of that particular story arc only comes in bits and pieces. I realize it doesn't matter, I've already turned the page...

My other ruminations about books:

On The Bus
Used Books
Mint Condition

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