Monday, February 11, 2013

Seven Compelling Reasons Never to Lend Josh Karaczewski a Paperback Book

I am hard on things. It is entirely unintentional, but objects in my possession over any prolonged length of time - like, say, the period of time it takes to read a book amid an overloaded and distracted schedule - draw the risk of being battered, bent, spilled upon or otherwise stained, so on and so forth. Hardcover books are a bit safer, because I leave their dust covers on a high shelf, and I have a fabric book-cover that offers a measure of protection. But paperback books knock and slide around my bag, get stuffed in jacket pockets, get pried open with one hand while the other is engaged with potentially messy activities like eating and drinking, etc.

And do not think that my affection for an author offers any measure of protection - quite the opposite. My favorite authors, as will be demonstrated by the following photographs, receive the rudest treatment: pages with quotes I like get dog-eared and pencil-noted, then weighed spread-eagle open when I copy out said quotes; the margins receive my greasy fingers more than the standard amount as I reread exceptional passages; and the best books, the ones I don't want to end, or want to sip long and savor, spend more days in the dangerous containers of transit, and in the company of imbruing food and drink.

So here is fair warning to anyone who is considering lending me a book: when it is returned, you will know that it has been read, and read hard. It will bear my physicality upon it.

War and Peace never had a chance. It just takes too long to read to keep safe, and any paperback binding is insufficient for that amount of pages. There is no way to read the middle chapters without creasing the binding. I had the same trouble in high school with Les Miserables, but I suspect that that copy became so worn from long usage that I threw it out when I finished my reading. Note, however, that the cover managed to hold on and protect its pages to the last: well done soldier, well done.

The reader's offending fingers display the shipping-tape used to reattach the cover.
 Love the vintage Woolco price sticker!

A vicious tear - my bad Ken!

God may or may not have blessed Mr. Rosewater, but he certainly forsake this book!

 You may have survived the bombing of Dresden, but your cover couldn't survive Josh Karaczewski!
A different primate's rude fingers did this to your collection of short stories.
Even Sissy's great thumbs wouldn't have been this unintentionally brutal.

And finally, the worst example of literary bookslaughter I have to confess to. This was not a book that I particularly liked - not a Brave New World-esque story to be seen throughout. After reading a short story that I didn't care for, it would sit for a couple of months before being picked up again. I have had to shimmy under the bed to rescue it a few times after it fell off the headboard. I would start reading a story, give up, and then would have to reread the beginning to muscle through its completion. Notice that the front cover is missing altogether - I have no idea where it ended up, or even if it is still in the house! Sorry Aldous, but you were a victim of my tastes, and your book paid the ultimate price.