I’ve Run Out of Bookmarks

Six months have come and gone since my last blog post. Instead of writing I went on an epic book binge. With each book my heart grew bigger, my soul lighter. Never once did I suffer from a feeling guilt or gluttony. Just happiness. My library–and brain–expand. Shelves overflow. No. Bulge. I’ve run out of bookmarks.

new shelves, new books

Our living room can now be called our library, with new shelves lining walls, stacked with the potential to run away.  A comfy chair, a table, foot stool, warm blankets– I’m ready. Where is the snow to keep me inside? I cancel plans–yes, a confession–so I can turn the page.

never end
yes, I cancelled plans because I couldn’t put this one down

Start a book on the history of colors. Pivot to poetry, scattered on the floor around my chair like seeds in earth. Does it matter how many autobiographies of Bowie I own?  Novels read in one sitting. Novels begun but not finished. Not because they aren’t well written, but because they are. The idea of them ending, heartbreaking.

a book to help with small talk 
books read
books I finished and recommend 

So I join a subscription service. Two. Books arrive with illustrated covers. Covers all in black with white block letters suggesting the seriousness of what’s inside. I binge on feminist manifestos, literary journals, novelists from Norway and Brooklyn, mystery novels, classics (ah, Mrs. Dalloway!), and books so heavy I consider reading them an act of physical exercise (thank you Mark Danielewski).

books bought
keep them coming! 

Everywhere I go a book in my bag. An actual book with pages smelling of vanilla and glue. I sneak a peek at what others are reading. Do you like that book? I’ve read that book! Smiles exchanged. Off the plane, the train, I walk with a head filled with narrative: “Mrs. Dalloway would buy the flowers herself” (Woolf) and, “The cat does not offer services.” (Burroughs).  My phone pings. A text from my bank: a deposit has been made. Pay day! There is a bookshop 4.2 miles away. Seated in the back of an Uber I anticipate tables of freshly published books. Hoping for a cat, if it’s an independent shop. Definitely my arms filled, wishing I could ignore my obligations, and continue my binge.




Stop with the Introductions, Please!

Who reads a book’s introduction? I ask you since I cannot bring myself to do the reading of an introduction, a preface or even a forward (I *might* read the forward if written by someone I admire who isn’t the book’s author).  An afterword, prologue or epilogue–of course! But all that nonsense at the start feels only like work to get to the meat of the thing.  Can we not just dive into the content, head first?

When did we start with the forward, introduction, and preface? Where is a librarian when one is most needed? Google provides no answers, and I’m frustrated. Perhaps if I understood the historical significance of such a thing I’d be more open to spending my time reading this neglected part of my books.

To neglect any part of a book seems sacrilegious. To confess, I often skip over lots of parts of poorly written books. Or books that are long-winded. Or are just boring as hell….

….but this is a digression. No one reads my blog. I don’t read introductions.  Are words wasted when no one reads them? Now I’m getting philosophical. I’m highly unqualified for philosophical thought.

Do you wonder over the difference among the preface/introduction/forward trinity? Oh, does it even matter? Be honest, you aren’t reading the front matter anyway.

So, dear book writers and publishers. Please know more people don’t read your introductions than do.  This is an educated guess.  But since I recently read a post online which provides the template for the writing of an “attention-grabbing” forward, I can’t be far from wrong.

PS My apologies to anyone who either loves an introduction or has written one. I’m sure there is value to doing so or there wouldn’t be so damned many of them.