(Image is Maka Albarn and Soul from the anime “Soul Eater”)
“I blame you, you know.”
This statement was directed at me three times this week from three different people. (When it rains, it pours, no?)
“Oh lovely. What for?” I ask with trepidation.
In a fraction of a second I’d listed ten possibilities for deserving blame. What a guilty and skittish conscience I possessed!
“I didn’t like reading before you. Now I can’t walk into book stores with money or I become the proud owner of section four.”
*Blink Blink* “Oh.”
HAHAHAHAHAHA! Double HA! <–this is the sound of my soul laughing gleefully and with much sadistic pleasure. Truly, is there any greater blame to shoulder than that of “forcing” books on people? I’m happy to be guilty of this. It’s shaped my life really. My mother read to me every night before bed when I was a kid and she was always reading herself. Then I entered school and had the pleasure of choosing my OWN books from the library. Wonder of wonders! It took off from there. Words became my life.
I was the weird kid that wanted to go to the library instead of the park when we had a choice. I was only allowed to take out three books of one subject at the time, which was fair for most people. Three books in three weeks. HA. More like three books in two days. Mom started having to check out extras for me to last me the week until we could go back. Finally the librarians threw up their hands and let me get as many as I wanted. I was on a first name basis with everyone.
My sister was not this kind of person and it was through her I saw the other side of things. She was an action person. If she had a choice she would Energizer Bunny her way through everyday, eating on the go, sleeping on the go, going on the go… She had no patience or time for books. She got frustrated with the words she couldn’t pronounce and couldn’t understand and she was embarrassed to read aloud. She grew to hate it. When there were books as required reading for school she would have to seek out the large print editions to help her focus better and mom would have to sit for a grueling hour to get through one chapter. It was the most difficult task to sit, read and absorb. I felt sometimes she was Golem from Lord of the Rings:
“We will reads the books, but we HATESSS ITTTT!”
Complete with hissing and spitting.
Such an alien concept for me. She lived for reality and I lived for my imagination. Once my sister was out of school and she was free of books she ran away and didn’t look back for many, many years. Meanwhile, I was filling my shelves with paper goodness and plowing through my first writing endeavors.
She was one of the people who laid blame squarely on my shoulders this week for turning her into a book eater. She found a book at one of my library sales and she liked it so much she got the second one. And then the third. My sister willingly BOUGHT a book. With her own money. And then, be still my heart, she asked me for recommendations.
*blink blink* Wha….?
I think I marked the day on my calendar. August something or other two years ago. (It was also the day my radiator cracked. It was a yin/yang day.)
The other two victims were no less shocking to me although in different ways.
One was my long time friend from middle school. She was much like my sister; always go go go! She wasn’t as averse to books as my sis but she found most of them boring and predictable. If she was going to read something cover to cover, it had to be something beautiful and challenging, like Shakespeare or John Milton. She aced book reports and read perfectly outloud but there were much more interesting things to do for her. She teased me, ever the book worm, for always having my nose in a book.
We parted ways for a long time, going to different High Schools and then life taking us to different cities. When we reconnected later though, well into our adult years but still ‘forever’ friends. (One of those friends that, no matter how long you go without seeing, will always feel like no time has passed at all when you see each other again.) We set a date to meet up for dinner and drinks and after the shock of seeing each other fatter and wiser, we got to talking. As per usual with me, books had to slip into the conversation.
“That reminds me, ” she said. “While we’re here I need to try to find the last book in a series I’ve been reading. They don’t have it in the store near my place.”
I felt my ears grew like a cartoon character’s, engulfing our booth with their keen awareness of the words “Need Last Book”. MY friend. My PICKY book friend wanted a book. Joy of joys! I threw down my napkin and asked for the check. We did indeed find that book for her and we both left feeling satisfied. When she returned years later (under less auspicious circumstances) her visits became a regular occurrence at my house and she snorted at my “hoarding”. By this time I had three tall shelves double stacked with books and a pile waist-high on the floor, also double stacked. (Shhhh.)
Well. One thing led to another and soon her tote bag was heavy with inked dead trees full of awesome. I couldn’t help smirking. Two for two. We didn’t have the same tastes and that’s okay. I was at about a 50% approval rating from her but she managed to find her own interests amongst my shelves. Still a win. I deserved that smirk of triumph, dammit!
Last to lay blame was an unexpected person. He’s a very mature and learned guy. Well-traveled thanks to being in a military family, an Online School honor student most of his life, knowledgeable and healthy and active. He seemed to have the whole package from my point of view. But he had a fatal flaw. Yes, you can probably guess.
He was book poor. Owen, my darling, I love you but you’re on this list.
I KNOW! How does such a smart guy become this way?! His reasoning was entirely different from the other two afflicted and probably baffled me the most. His reluctance for literature was more that “he chose bad books.”
*Blink blink* HOW THE FU**——?!
I am ever a student of life. This was news to me.
Yes, he somehow managed to choose the exact wrong books for himself. Frugal to begin with, the thought of spending money had to be a careful decision for him. Then insert the millions of titles out there to peruse and no wonder my poor friend felt like hiding under a rock! And then finally to have the bad luck to choose novels that let him down…
Well. As a connoisseur of fiction, I offered to him the gentle hand of friendship and made him a list of my most favorite books. This seemed an acceptable form of research for him. He could do his own contemplation on them via the interwebz and decide for himself if it was something he wanted to buy in his own time. To further ease his anxiety about spending money on books I recommended he first try Second Hand stores. They were about half the price or cheaper for books at a chain store and there was less pressure from the sales people to make a purchase or push their recommendations on him. It was endless books and peacefulness with the smell of dust and old paper in your nose.
Much to our mutual delight, the first trilogy on the list was a success. I rejoiced with him for weeks as he delved in and grew more interested. We talked and laughed and shared quotes back and forth. It was a beautiful feeling. Not only did I have a new person to talk about my favorite books with but he now had a positive experience with a book! THREE of them!
It didn’t stop there, much to my delight. My second and third titles also caught his interest and he began to actively pursue acquiring them in preparation for reading. After this happened, he then had the confidence to purchase, of his own accord, an entirely new series I had not even heard of. He purchased them on Amazon and they came to him in the mail. He thus got to experience the agony of waiting and the mini Christmas celebration of getting packages in the mail.
~Deck the halls with books and shelves, Muahahahaha hahahahaaaaaaa…~
I’m 3/3 curing these beloved afflicted of their Biblio-phobia and I could not be prouder of us. There’s a great joy in sharing interests with people who are receptive to them. You create a rapport and a new thread of trust is formed, adding to the rope already connecting you.
I don’t mind giving myself a pat on the back for this. My purpose on this earth is to inspire and create. They are a living manifestation of my dream.
To hopefully further this dream, I’m going to include a brief list of the books I have recommended to my family and friends that we’ve mutually enjoyed. These recommendations are mostly fantasy based with some sci-fi and romance thrown in. Big thanks to Goodreads for providing summaries for these 😉
“The Unexpected Dragon”–Mary Brown
“The Wee Free Men” (Discworld #30)–Terry Pratchett (READ ANY AND ALL OF HIS BOOKS!)
“Men in Kilts”–Katie MacAlister
“The Devil Wears Prada”— Lauren Weisberger
“Eat, Pray, Love” –Elizabeth Gilbert
“In her Shoes”–Jennifer Weiner