Bluestocking days

July 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

Even though I’ve always said, “oh, yeah, I love to read,” ever since I got a laptop (roughly speaking) I have been reading books a lot less. We’re talking a mid-high school dropoff of what used to be my favorite pastime.

Until now, that is! The weird thing is that when your job is basically reading, you kind of want to read more when you get home, just so you can have some control over what your eyeballs are scanning and to be able to digest a story without having to pick apart all the different flavors and ingredients, to torture an ill-fitting metaphor. This, combined with Fridays off and a sudden cavalier attitude about spending the money in my savings account* have led me to an unfortunate problem: used bookstores. They’re like crack, but less whack!

Thankfully, most of them are Way Too Upscale to carry lowly romances, so I don’t have to worry about supplementing my already burgeoning windowsill-o-paperbacks. Unthankfully, they do have YA, which is practically romance, chick lit (ditto), and occasionally I even indulge in literary fiction (sort of). I can’t help myself. You go into these stores and there’s shelves of different sizes and shapes and colors of books, and you flick a finger along the spines until, bingo, there it is: Atonement or All-American Girl or Good In Bed and you know you’re sunk.

Used books remind me of why I love to read because they were once someone else’s, a fact driven home by the plethora of things that have fallen out of the pages of my purchases: a doodle of a boy and his belongings, a list of all the characters in the book in spidery scrawl, a thank-you note addressed to the “Queen of Zumba” on the back of a polaroid of a box of Krispy Kremes. Reading is a weird, silent connection to a place that other people have been to and may never talk about. It’s eerie and great.

And the thing is, when you’re shopping for used books, you don’t go looking for something specific. It’s just a vague idea, and then Words at Play is there on the Strand’s $1 rack or you pass a book stall thinking, man, I’d love to read Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and then THERE IT IS, waiting for you to descend upon it.

Yes, I read like a serial killer. Yes, I “gulp-read,” to use a disgusting expression that makes me absolutely cringe when my mother uses it to describe my habit of skipping whole paragraphs if they bore me. Yes, I guess I might as well just cave and buy one of those priggish “One can never have too many books” throw pillows. This does not bother me because I am already off looking for something new to read.

*I know, I know; WHO HAVE I BECOME, etc.


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