…of books, that is.
I envy those of you who have read every single book that lines your bookshelves; those who are devoted monolegists ( a word I made up of mono+ lego, the latin word for read) and give each book their undivided attention. But not me.
Oh, how I am ashamed of this! I’m a biblio-player! I do judge a book by its cover; if it’s eye-catching with bright colours and cool pictures, I’d give it a chance by reading the blurb and thumb through the pages to get an overall impression. I book-read. No, not read books. I book-read; I analyse the book, the title, the spacing of passages ( curse the book that has passages huddled together in one big monolithic passage) and even the author. I look out for superfluity,redundancy and flowery language. Does the author substantiate claims with evidence or anecdotes? I skim-read to see if the eye-catching title is a bluff where you find only a 1/3 of the book somewhat intriguing and rest being, in essence, long-winded prologues and epilogues.
I’ll give a book a chance if the lack of a nice cover is compensated by its substance; the fonts,the qualifications of the author and how soon the subject-matter is introduced in the book and dealt with.
From experience, I’ve found that the more elaborate and fancy a book cover ( and the ubiquitous accolades and reviews) is, the more I’m inclined to suspect that it’s overcompensating for lack of substance. The best books I’ve read had the simplest of covers, and by the same token the most disappointing books have been those who trumped-up my hopes with fancy covers and no substance. Those are what I call Blonde-books ( like blonde-jokes, only epitomized in book format.)
And you know how people have actually read their favourite books? Well, not me. Some I love based on first impression and I mark them for a future reading, kinda like an acquaintance you take a liking to, yet don’t feel the urgency to bond with them right now. So you save their number and the two of you occasionally text and suggest to ‘totally meet up someday’ but you don’t because it’s low priority. Until you get bored or something drastic happens and you need to talk to someone, cue the bonding session. Those are my friendly books .Others have me by the title alone! Oh yes, when I find those kind of books, I lose my marbles and cause a ruckus. Time stands still, my heart beats so hard I can’t hear anything but its frantic pounding in my ears and I start cold sweating.That’s how elated I get . Those are my soul books. I would not rest until I get my hands on said book, even if I have to go the dark alleys of torrent sites!
Then there are my nemesis books which are books so shallow and pretentious it makes my blood boil! These are the kinds of books that makes me lose trust in books and not know if a good book is actually good.
Lastly in my long line of booksters ( yet another word I made up. If Shakespeare can do it, so can I…right? ) are the Mentors. These are books that I hold in high regard, yet I haven’t found it in me to settle down with any one of these just yet.I can’t muster the level of commitment required with these books require and deserve.I imagine sitting down with Joyce’s Ulysses or Homer’s The Odyssey– or any Hemingway’s,Dostoyevsky’s or even dear Alan Watts’ with a seriousness bordering on austerity and unwavering devotion of attention. I can’t! Not while I’m book-hoopin’, title-judgin’,skim-readin’ and name-callin’…
No, I’ll have to get over my commitment-phobia and marry the fine art of reading books.