In my 27 years as a reader, I’ve only broken up with one book. The book in question smugly sits on a shelf* in my book cabinet, catching me by surprise every now and again. Recognizing it is like coming across a photo of an old boyfriend with his new bride in the “Weddings” section of the newspaper. The pang of loss, even if the relationship was never good, the knee-jerk comparison of your looks to the bride’s, and the niggling sense of fear that maybe the relationship could have worked if you would have put in some more effort.
I rediscovered the book I dumped 9 years ago last night during my frenzied reorganization and almost fell into the trap of trying to read it again, thinking maybe this time would be different.
Allow me to interject here and differentiate between “breaking up with a book” and being “just not that into a book”. Books that don’t grab my interest intially are shelved–maybe I’ll come sniffing back around in a few months, with more patience or out of sheer desperation.
Breaking up with a book is literally flinging it from your hands like it’s ablaze. It’s slamming the book shut and swearing never to open it again. It’s abandoning the book on a park bench or subway seat (or hiding it in your bookshelf). It’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E, literary style.
House of Leaves, I hate you. Mark Z. Danielewski, I believe you are an agent of Satan put on this planet to toy with my feeble mind.
Not only do I feel like the village idiot when attempting to follow the unconventional format and structure, but the layout, typography, appendices, index, and general esotericism leave me feeling like the only one who didn’t get the high-brow joke. The book has been lauded by critics and readers alike, which adds to my “what am I missing” sense of unease.
Yes, friends…that is actually a page of the book. Painful, isn’t it? I know, I know.
So, am I alone here on my little break-up island, or do you have your own tale of a book that you dumped? I’d love to hear about it, if only to save me the pain of putting it on my TBR list.
*Oh, if you’re looking for the book on my shelf, it’s on the “white shelf”, about half-way in…it’s got a white spine with evil black squares on it.