Having had a life-long intimate and deep relationship with books, I also tend to ‘suffer’ from a number of phobias and quirks concerning them. Most of these habits inescapably have to do with a perhaps overly zealous (at least for non-bibliophiles) attempt to preserve said treasures of knowledge, from ‘outsiders’ who would besmirch and defile them.
When a book enters my possession, I breathlessly and happily take this bundle of experiences and emotions home, thrilled with the idea of the myriad of new horizons and magical words I have in my hands. After the book is finished, I put it reverently in a preordained place on one of my many shelves, knowing that there is a particular reason why I placed it exactly where I did, between a surreal fairytale-ish twisted fantasy set in a parallel universe and a science fiction tome detailing the life of a telepathic genius.
I see it as my personal and privileged duty to be the caretaker, the archivist and the keeper of such valuable mental riches, and I solemnly make a vow to my internal subconscious that that is what I will do.
Which is why, for one thing, I really LOATHE lending books. To anyone. No matter for how long I’ve known them or how much they effusively promise to take care of said wealthy prize. I do not lend books – ever. It would be like ‘lending’ your boyfriend or husband to a voracious femme fatale waiting to strangle him with her red-lacquered claws. Impossible.
Another thing – I just can’t stand people who write in their books. No, not even if they are taking notes with a pencil. At university, I had to watch in the sidelines and say nothing. Mute and suffering, I looked on as people defaced their own brand new copies of must-read textbooks, raped classics with felt pens and even doodled on the innocent little darlings in between cups of coffee! I could almost hear the virginal pages scream and writhe in shame and disgust. How could they?!
The worse of it was – I could say nothing. They were not MY books, they did not belong to me and I had no power over them. You cannot really say anything if you see a girlfriend furiously mistreating and bitching at her boyfriend in front of everyone, can you? Well, that’s not a very good example – boyfriends can react and complain, books can’t.
And what about those obnoxiously irreverent people who use the page itself as a bookmark?! By George, can’t they at least use a piece of paper or napkin to mark their place if they are in a hurry and don’t have anything at hand? Why must they pluck a corner of the page and twist it upon itself, leaving unsightly lines and indentations where before there were none?
Then there are also those insensitive creatures who just leave their books splayed wide open, spine upwards, with the pages messily jumbled at an angle, in order to leave them propped open at a certain page on a table or bench. Can’t they hear the spine of the book break? Don’t they know that this will leave a myriad of lines on it? It’s like aging the book before its time!
There are also those who even eat or drink while holding their books! Leaving crumbs, splashing butter or even worse, spilling WINE on the esteemed masterpieces. How can they even dare to send a whiff of food in their direction? Don’t they know how quickly pages can deteriorate? What about those who smoke while they read? Incredible!
Needless to say, my furious tirade concerns people who actually read. Those who, up to a point, understand how important and priceless each well-written book is (note ‘well-written’, meaning that certain contemporary ‘novels’ featuring glittering vamp-schoolboys and tawdry BDSM lechers and their Doris Day ignorant wannabes, do not count).
I cannot even begin to assimilate those puzzling incomprehensible beings who do not like to read… that, I admit, is quite beyond me.
Do you like to read?