Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Oh, No, You Didn't.
When I was 17, I decided that I wanted to broaden my horizons; to that end, I assigned myself the weighty task of reading "the classics". I started out wholeheartedly, borrowing stacks of books from the library at a time, nothing could stop me! I was going to read everything there was!
There was really no rhyme or reason to the books I chose. If I'd ever heard of it, I wanted to read it. I especially loved it when I read about a book in one of the books I chose and was then able to read that book. Awesome.*
I devoured the slim volumes: Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, Rebecca, 1984, The Grapes of Wrath, The Handmaid's Tale. When I got to the heavier books though, I sort of petered out; Don Quixote and War and Peace were just too much. I was determined to plow on though, so there are a lot of books that I've read the first chapter of.
I've recently decided to take up the mantle again, and continue with the goal of reading everything. I'll even admit that it was spurred on by a quiz on the BBC's Big Read Top 100 list. I had a look and I'd only read 40.
This time around, I'm not going to limit myself to "classics", although I do seem to be lacking in that category. I'm going to try to read a bit of everything. This week, I started out with "Room"** and "The Great Gatsby".
I finished off "Room" and started in on Gatsby. Don't you love opening a book you've never read before? I've never even heard much about The Great Gatsby, except for reading an excerpt in "A Prayer For Owen Meaney"*** - which is why I chose it - so I didn't even know what to expect.
What I certainly didn't expect, was for some jack-hole to have written all over the margins.
I hate that. I hate it so much that I want to find the person who did it and hit them in the face with the book. Okay, maybe not quite that much, but if they happened to look over my shoulder and say "Oh! I did that!", I'd definitely give them the stink eye. Not only is it disrespectful to write in the margins (in my opinion, anyway), but this is a LIBRARY BOOK! WTH, DUDE!?
So, I sat down to read, armed with an eraser (because at least the jack-hole had written in pencil). This person has not only written in the margins, but has also underlined things messily, and in some cases scribbled out whole paragraphs. Seriously? You're going to edit this book? Not only that, but the comments don't make any freaking sense! Really, I think that's what makes me angriest. If they were at least insightful comments on the novel, I'd be able to find a tiny bit of forgiveness.
As I was sitting on the couch, angrily erasing and mumbling to myself about idiots who shouldn't be allowed the privilege of a library card, my husband walked by and had a look at what I was doing.
"I used to do that," he said. "In university. Or sometimes I'd write the notes out in a notebook, and then bracket the paragraph and number them in the margins so they'd be easy to find."
"They were at least your own books, right?" I asked, horrified.
"Oh, yeah, they were my own books." he answered, backing away, possibly sensing that any other answer would not be okay.
He also dog-ears pages. *shudder* What kind of monster have I married?
*I still love this.
**Short listed for the Man Booker Prize 2010, and quite an engrossing read, I must say.
***I'm also going to have to read The Tin Drum.