Saturday, December 14, 2019

Angry At You...And Your Books, Too???

I heard something both intriguing and disturbing this week: An acquaintance of mine (I'll call her 'Reedy'; she's wonderfully, quirkily bookwormy) and I got together. Over coffee, we were having a lively conversation about books we'd recently read, books on our wishlist and books we were looking forward to coming out next year. We were both especially Squeeeeee! about The Mirror and the Light, the final book in the Wolf Hall trilogy by Hilary Mantel.

I told Reedy about finding some sort of orangey-red sauce in my recently library read, Born Round by Frank Bruni, and how I would ordinarily be a little bit eww, but under the circumstances, it seemed forgivable. She asked if I smelled the page to try and figure out what the previous reader had been eating. Uh, no. She said she always does that. Except when she sees Cheeto fingerprints, which is all the evidence you really need.

The conversation flowed on with the coffee, and I mentioned wanting to read City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Body by Bill Bryson (I got the latter for my birthday last week).

Reedy made a disgusted face. "I'm not going to read either one of those. I wouldn't read them if you paid me."

"Why not?"

"My cousin gave them to me. And I'm mad at her."

Well. Relatives can be all over the board, but if they're generous with books, you can overlook a few things! Can't you? I know I could.

"Reedy, you can't be mad at the books. They didn't do anything."

"I don't care. They sat there on the shelves, just glaring out at me and I kept getting more and more repulsed when I looked at them. I couldn't even stand them in the house. I felt like throwing up."

I didn't like the sudden and ominous appearance of past tense verbs. I tried to ignore them: "Bring the books to me. I don't know your cousin."

"I don't have them anymore," said Reedy.

"Oh my God." I was having terrible visions. "Reedy, you didn't throw them away, did you?"

"Of course not. I'm not crazy. I donated them to the Salvation Army. But there are copies in every fucking bookstore around here. I see them everywhere I go. Even Walmart. Ugh."

I thought I was going to cry, or something next-door to it. "I wish you'd brought them to me. I would have even given you some money for them."

"I don't care. I did you a favor. Those books had her nasty mojo all over them."

So, anyway. I'm torn between annoyed at missing out on free new books and genuine fascination at this quirky(?) behavior. I don't understand, and I promise that if I'm ever mad at you, I may be snarling with contempt, but for your books, there'll be nothing but the utmost tenderness in my heart.


Sam said...

Wow, there were some hard feelings there for sure.

Now, I'll admit to clearing books off my shelves because I've become annoyed with an author's personal behavior before - and in fact, I pulled three today by one author - but I will always find them a new home rather than just chunking them into the recycled bin. When I reach that stage of a relationship with an author, I don't like seeing their name on display on my bookshelves.

Well...maybe I'm more like your friend than I want to admit. :-)

Bybee said...

Sam, I've become disillusioned with authors as well and forsaken their works, but not tied an owner and a book together like that.

Ruthiella said...

I had a friend give me a music CD because her ex had gifted it to her and she had bad associations with it as a result. I guess it isn't that unusual. But personally I don't associate books with the giver. If the friendship is over and I still like a book gifted from the friend, I keep the book - no question!

I am mostly jealous you have a real-life friend you can talk books with over coffee!

Unruly Reader said...

I think I've got some of that weirdness in me... I'd probably donate the copies I received and then check out the same titles from the library if I actually wanted to read them.

I know: strange.

Care said...