Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Confessions of a Bad Reader

I checked out a brand-new book (put it on hold at the library months before it came out).  I read it by the pool.  The bottom of the pages got damp from resting against my tummy after I'd been in the water.  You know how thin paper wrinkles even after it's dried?  I did that.  To a brand new book.  That isn't mine.

The scene of the crime.

This got me thinking about all the other, um, problematic things I do (or fail to do) as a reader.  Once I got going, it was hard to stop.

I place books open and upside down to hold my spot.  I don't care about the spine getting broken.

I eat while I read, and I leave smudges (usually chocolate).

I let my kids watch movies before they've read the book.  Then I don't even make them read the book.

If I visit a blog, and don't recognize any of the books, instead of thinking, "Oh, I could learn so much on this blog!" I think "Not interested" and never come back.

It took me way too long to see the racism and genocide lurking in every single pioneer/ covered wagon/ Oregon trail story.  I still have to fight the urge to make excuses for cultural appropriation and insensitivity in Eleanor and Park and Ghosts.

I have spent well over a thousand dollars buying books for my classroom library this year, then I turn around and tell my kids we're too broke to go out for dinner.

Of all the attributes of youth I've lost--eating like a pig without gaining weight, having energy all day long, not having any serious responsibilities, doing headstands, drinking strong men under the table and waking up feeling fine the next day--the one I miss most is being able to read in a car without getting nauseated.  Well, okay, it's really the "not having serious responsibilities" one, but reading in a car is definitely second.

I don't read to my kids every day.  I don't even read to them every week, although when we're involved in a book, that's not the case.

When I was a teenager, someone casually referred to me as "well-read" and I was so flattered that I spent the next ten years trying to prove them right.  Most of my classics and serious lit-ra-chur reading came during this time period.  Okay, this sounds like a humble-brag to me, because I still can't quite shake that feeling that a) being "well-read" is an actual, quantifiable thing and b) it's something that would make me better than other "less well-read" people.  WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE?!?

Ursula Le Guin is my literary idol.  I accidentally sold a book she'd signed to me because when the buyer said, "oh, and it's signed!" I was too embarrassed to snatch it back from him. *Kicks self.*

I totally believed the whole "story behind the story" thing with The Princess Bride and actually argued about it with a colleague who was teaching the book.

I used to sneak-read the smut books my dad kept by his bedside.  I was appalled by some bits ("She put his WHAT in her mouth?  Why would she do that?") but fascinated overall.  Then my parents caught me showing my best friend, and they told her parents, and her mom laughed at us.  It was horrifying.

I pretend I shop at local independent bookstores because it's the right thing to do, but actually it's because I can't stand waiting for books to be delivered, and I love wandering around looking at books.

Look at those awnings.  Wouldn't you rather walk down this street than fill a cart online?

Which of these confessions horrify you the most?  Which can you relate to?  Best of all--WHAT NEW AND DIFFERENT BOOK CONFESSIONS do you have?

I don't have a pool, by the way.  My kid wisely made friends with a kid who lives in an apartment complex with a pool, and in exchange for being the adult in charge, I got to spend a few hours there yesterday.  This is what we mean when we tell our children "Make good choices."


  1. I'm cracking up at The Princess Bride thing. I was so damn confused at first when I read that book. I wasn't even sure if I had the right book and spent time Googling just to try and figure out who the author was lol.

  2. Thank you. That was hilarious. PS: I am only well-read because I went to high school, and my english teachers made me read all those books.
    Sam @ WLABB

  3. Oh, wow. Where do I start? Hilarious post :) I am anal about books, no corners, no hicks, no cracked spines or I'm capable of buying it AGAIN. Not when it comes to library books, those I treat in a normal careful way but don't freak out every time there's the smallest damage. I hope one day to get over this, but maybe it'll simply end with me reading all books electronically and/or from the library and my hardback library simply doesn't get touched EVER? I'm rolling my eyes at myself here. I wouldn't have snatched that book back from the buyer either! How annoying! I can imagine my stomach sink at the realisation and not reacting, then kicking myself! I still do the "well read" thing and have been struggling with Infinite Jest for like a year now... whoops! I refuse to give up and I do want to read Ulysses before I die. I used to not give up on books ever and always finish them but these days I'm giving myself more and more the permission to actually read for pleasure and nothing else!

  4. I put my books upside down to hold my place, and I don’t even feel bad about it. Most of my books are used and come to me with broken spines, but I do it with new books too. I’m a horrible person.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  5. Oh, one of the things that I absolutely hate is smudging food on my book and also getting a book wet! Ack.. this drives me nuts! I once had a friend lend a book and the one who borrowed it probably dropped it in a puddle of water or something or poured water on it because it was ruined! However, I have turned a book upside down to save my place and it doesn't bother me at all. I think that a well read looking book is more meaningful to me. So, I don't mind a broken spine :)

  6. Haha, this made me laugh so much! :)
    I think we've all committed our fair share of bookish crimes, so I wouldn't worry about it! I'm definitely terrible for getting food and drink all over my books, and if I visit a blog where none of the books are ones I've read, I do leave pretty much immediately too. And I used to be able to read in the car too, but it makes me feel really sick now and it's so annoying!
    Great post! :)

  7. If I own a book, I will often write all over it and mark it up. It comes from my years as an English major, having to analyze books and do reports on them. Now, I'll notice things and think, "Oh, this is important." Even though I don't write reports anymore.

    This made me laugh! I totally do some of these things, too.

    I found your post through the It Starts at Midnight link up, by the way.

  8. I can't damage my poor little books. Can't do it. Most of the others I can relate to, though. Guess we're all bad readers in our own ways!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  9. When I was a teenager, someone casually referred to me as "well-read" and I was so flattered that I spent the next ten years trying to prove them right.

    I'm guilty of the majority of the traits you've mentioned in this post, but that particularly one made me snort. I did (and still do) EXACTLY this. Somebody once called me well-read when I was about seventeen, and then I was filled with anxiety that I was an impostor, masquerading as a well-read teenager. So I read every classic I came across, obviously.

    Even now, I feel filled with shame if somebody references a book I haven't read!


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