The readers before us…
October 9, 2010 § 18 Comments
Sometimes a library book is sweetly tarnished in some way. Maybe it’s a stain on a page, maybe sauce, maybe blood, maybe it’s gravy on the page. But who doesn’t prefer to think it’s an engaged reader, having a whopping lovely chocolate thing to eat while reading? Or a lovely little slop of coffee? (No, I am not in favor of book abuse, don’t get me wrong.)
Sometimes the pages are wrinkled. Maybe the book was dropped in the bathtub, maybe left out in the rain,. But who doesn’t prefer to think it was a reactive reader, moved to giant splashy tears by the story, thus soaking the book?
Still,sometimes we get treats from the readers gone before us. Maybe a bookmark left behind. Maybe the library receipt, showing all the books that reader had borrowed, and so we get to know a bit about that reader by his book selections. Or, maybe something pencilled, maybe an exclamation point or a star, maybe a word like “perfect”, that he made in the margin or somewhere on the page.
My favorite, the underline. What stopped the reader, made him find a pencil, made him choose lines to mark and for what reason? Was he going back to them later? Was he learning something and the act of underlining helped to reinforce that learning?
And so I was cruising along in the beginning pages of AM Smith’s second mystery novel in the Isabel Dalhousie Sunday Philosophy Club series,FRIENDS, LOVERS, CHOCOLATE, and on this page, the pencilled underline.
When you’re reading a mystery, your antennae are out, looking for the set up, ready to differentiate between red herrings and clues. This line jumped out, and would have, even without the pencil line.
It’s a lovely little subtle setup. Is that what the pencil-toting reader before me thought as well?
I wonder. Still, likely something will happen in this respectable suburb.
Sure we love our new books, but the old ones, the used ones, the beloved and the libraried ones tell stories beyond the stories within them.
I read on. To see what happens, if anything, in Balerno.