Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Lending Library

            “Didn't your mother teach you sharing?”  That is what my husband, god rest his soul, used to ask me whenever I had something he wanted, usually in the food or drink category. I guess she did, because I don't mind sharing.           
            Like the library, it's all about sharing. I love to read, and since I could never afford to purchase or to store the quantity of books I read, I don't mind sharing books with other like minded patrons. But my gawd people, what are you doing while you're reading?
            The other day, while reading a library book, I found a large dark brown coloured stain, mirrored on two pages like a dirty ink blot, a wannabe Rorschach test. Four pages later there were a few more brown smudges, followed by some grease stains and then the book read clean. You, the reader, were eating a chocolate dip donut weren't you?  At least that's what I'm telling myself as I don't want to consider some of the other possibilities.
            I understand, I live alone and often read while I eat a meal or have a snack. But if I can't manage the food and the book, I set the book aside so as to not soil it's pages. Obviously some of the other library card holders are not as conscientious.
            I finished that chocolate stained book and started another...another mystery. Maybe that library patron who likes to eat and read has the same taste in books. This book has orange stains, Cheezies would be my guess. Now, come on, everybody knows if you eat Cheezies your fingers get stained with orange dust. If you're going to eat and read at least make an effort to keep your hands clean.
            This has all been very alarming and is taking away from my pleasure in reading, especially when the next book had green stains, not stains really but little green blobs. Ooh, nasty, makes me
want to wash my hands, and the book.
            This is all so disconcerting. Where is the respect, people?
            I read with clean hands, OK, maybe sometimes too clean. I like nothing better than to share my Calgon moment with a good book. Turning pages gets difficult with a wet hand, so I might leave damp marks on the pages. No stains, just water marks, maybe a slight thickening of the paper...except for that one time I dropped the book in the hot was never the same.
            Since I'm so aware of food stains, (I feel better thinking they're food stains), I've come to notice something else. Little circles drawn around some of the page numbers. What is this?  I looked the page over and it was just part of the story, nothing so outstanding as to be marked. It wasn't like marking the pages with 'explicit sexual content' like some teenagers have been known to do. If the circles were in place of a bookmark the reader was not reading very long at any given time.
            And initials, have you seen those initials in the front of the book? So the reader will know he or she has read the book, in case the synopsis on the back didn't ring any bells. I understand that, I've read a synopsis and, thinking it sounded like a good story, signed the book out only to remember it had been a good story...when I read it the first time. When you read an average of three or more books a week it's hard to remember them all. That's why I keep a list, by author, in a little notebook. If we all were to put our initials in the front of the book we'd need to have stickers that would cover them over, like the library did when they hand stamped due dates on each book.
            The other day I was reading a James Patterson novel, from the Women's Murder Club series.  Someone had deemed themselves an editor. Now, we've all found the odd typo in a book and been tempted to correct it, to correct a mistake in typing, not to change the wording. This was entirely different. This was striking a line through the words as written and substituting other words. It occurred a number of times and I realized it was for all the same words. Things like “...had gotten sick...” was
changed to 'had become sick', “...had already gotten to the school...” changed to 'already arrived at school..'. That reader must have been an English teacher or something. It had looked OK to me, perhaps casual English, as opposed to formal English. If it was wrong, how did it not get corrected in the editing process? Made me curious, so I looked it up in a book of grammar, and the reader was right, as far as proper use of the language is concerned.
            I've just finished another book and this one was snack free and pencil free. There were no notations, no initials and no stains. Picking up the next book off the to-be-read pile of books by my chair I leaf through the pages looking for signs of misuse and abuse. I want to get it out in the open, to not let it be a distraction while I'm reading the story. This book is pristine, and it's two years old, what a marvel.
            Ah ha, this book contains a gift, in the form of a bookmark. Now I understand, the bookmark is a shopping list, for the grocery store. Which reminds me, it's dinner time and my lasagna is ready. A glass of wine, some Italian pasta, what could be better as I sit down to read a Lisa Scottoline novel about an Italian lawyer from Philadelphia. I promise to be neat.


1 comment:

Connie said...

Okay, now you've got me thinking. Perhaps the worst stain I've left on a book would be a splash of red wine when I got to a really good part! But now I'll be handling them with kid gloves, just in the event I loan you one of mine!