When I worked in the middle school library, one of my patrons was a young girl who loved books…even though she didn’t actually read them. She would come in once every other week, check out three or four Harry Potter books, and then carry them around so that other students could see her with them. Along the way she picked up the basics of the stories, and eventually she did read them herself, but it always amused me to watch her using the books as attention-getting props.
We talk all the time about books we wouldn’t be caught dead reading in public. Twilight and its sequels, the 50 Shades books, The Da Vinci Code (well, anything by Dan Brown, really)… all of these are books that sold millions, and are regularly checked out from the library every week. Still, we insist we would never allow a copy in our homes and God forbid we carry a copy where anyone could see us. All of us have rolled our eyes a time or two at the mention of such a thing.
I’d like to come at this from a different direction today. Like my little friend, sometimes I find myself so proud of whatever book I might be reading at the time, that I want to hold it up high enough for the other patrons in the coffee shop or riders on the train with me to see what I’m reading. It becomes more important to my ‘look’ than the necklace I’m wearing or the shoes I chose. It’s not entirely my vanity driving the behavior. Maybe someone of like mind will notice the author’s name and decide I must be a terribly interesting person because I’m reading that book. It’s almost a tribal symbol in that respect. Think about it for a second – you walked into a sandwich shop and saw two people at separate tables, each reading. One is reading Ann Coulter’s latest booklength rant, and the other is reading D B Jackson’s Thieves’ Quarry (out today – go buy your copy!!) With which person would you rather sit?
I remember a time in my junior year of high school when I had a serious crush on a senior boy. He was cute, but my interest was fueled by what he read. I worked the pass desk in the library during lunch, so I saw what he checked out every day or so. Asimov’s Foundation series, Zelazny’s Amber books, Moorcock’s Elric saga…he would check out books and I would go right behind him to read what he did. Eventually we started talking, and he agreed to lend me his copy of Frank Herbert’s Dune (a book I love to this day.) I read that book every day while working the desk, holding it up high enough that everyone who might look could see what I was reading. I felt smart and well-read, and I wanted the world to notice.
Have you ever caught yourself holding your book a certain way, hoping that people would see what you’re reading? What book was it? Where were you? Did you manage to make a connection? And most importantly, have you bought your copy of Thieves’ Quarry yet?