I had a plan. When my private army took over the country, I would burn down the bookstores, but as you will discover this plan had a fatal flaw. I borrowed a book from the library upon a recommendation received over pints. I was flipping through the pages and upon the overleaf of the last page a previous reader wrote, “Lucky Jim is Great.” Written in aquamarine ink and complete with the underline. It made me even more excited about starting this book. I also deface library books regularly, tough titties if this upsets you. I started the practice after reading a borrowed copy of ‘Portrait of Dorian Gray’. The owner of the book had clearly read this novel several times and would underline sentences or phrases that were perfect examples of Wilde’s famous wit. It was like looking at geological strata. Each pass she made through its pages added a different hue of underlining as well as marking the progression of her absorption of this favoured novel. This is why I like reading 2nd hand books. I not only get to experience the thoughts of the author as he attempts to communicate something to me in a couple hundred pages, but also I get to peek at another reader’s experience of those pages. This copy of ‘Lucky Jim’ also has a listing of about twenty page numbers on a blank page. What mysteries those numbers may hold!?!
I too leave my markings and scratches upon the books I read. I underline. I also leave little annotations like, “Hey! Pay attention. This will probably be the greatest and most important thing you read in your life.” or “You might want to go get something to drink before you read this paragraph as it may cause kidney failure. Yes. It’s that good!” At the end of such paragraphs I also usually write a quick, “Told you so.”
It is for this that I thought others would be better off if I just did away with the bookstores. The second hand shops would of course be spared. To be honest, I think it would be best to get rid of the high street bookstores. The books they hold are usually nothing more than covers to look at whilst you make your way to the coffee shop at its heart. Luckily, my forces have not seized the capital, and I could not rashly give the order to carry out this mistaken plan.
Today I taught my spellchecker, “titties”. Someday, my spellchecker dictionary will read like the stalls of a men’s public lavatory.