On Reading

One of the best and biggest boosts you can give to your ego is to finish reading a book. When you close that sucker, it’s weight finally alone in your left hand, it is an accomplishment.

Runners think they’re great for running a a whole marathon? Well good for them, but that’s, what, three, four hours of running? (I’m not googling it because I don’t care.) Way to carve out an afternoon for self-improvement, what a sacrifice it must have been for them to skip brunch today. Over here in the modern world, where running for four hours is an effectively useless skill, the book-readers have dedicated ten, twenty, maybe fifty hours to completing a tome of knowledge.

There may not be any ticker tape parades for you, book reader, and you won’t get the same social media attention for a selfie with your recently conquered pages as those sweaty schmucks get for running all morning. But your win comes later, when in casual conversation with your friends, family, or co-workers, you get to begin a sentence with the phrase “that reminds me of a book I read recently.”

That is a powerful-ass sentence. First of all, just announcing that you can/have/do read/read books tells everyone around you: “I am a smart motherfucker”. Being “reminded” informs the collected masses that you’re about to connect what you read to the discussion at hand, which will prove that you’re a smart motherfucker. And, of course, the killing blow is “recently”. This prevents anyone from responding with any thoughts about any of the books they were made to read in high school or college, effectively silencing most people, and reinforcing that you are smart— in fact, you are so smart that you have continued to read of your own volition, even when nobody made you.

The weak-minded, be they marathon runner or otherwise, cannot defend against “That reminds me of a book I read recently.” Similarly, it will act as a beacon to other not-idiots who may be in your vicinity. Bespectacled men and women with opinions on foreign countries will start to gravitate to you. They may be reminded of the same book, at which point you can exchange facts about the book with one another, proving to any lingering joggers that you were serious about the whole “actually read the book” thing.

Once you and your new, bespectacled crush stumble back into your apartment, having left the party and its jocks behind, your crush will pause when they see your bookcase. Packed thick with hard and soft covers, guilty pleasures and academic treatises alike, slowly they begin fingering through your collection, and you watch them from the green chair, feeling so vulnerable as they scour your intimate intellectual history for something specific, but who knows what.

And then she finds it. The thickest thing on the shelf, the badge of hipster honor you’re both proud and embarrassed to display. She sits back down on the refurbished, art-decoy blue couch, it’s blue fuzzies sticking to her black skintight jeans and her thin green cardigan. You can see the many dog ears, the stains and splashes the mighty paperback absorbed during it’s many slogs in and out of backpacks and coffeeshops. You tense, a little nervous, having not actually cracked that particular spine in five years, and having finished it only the once. You’re concerned she’s going to start discussing the book’s finer points.

But she doesn’t, merely flips through it, as if evaluating its authenticity. You catch a bit of highlighter as she turns a page and wonder if you kept up with that to the end. Allison’s thin, elegant fingers are quickly amongst the last pages, and you can see messy shorthand reflected in the big panes of her oversized glasses, green eyes behind them sparkling with hungry interest.

Allison nods at whatever I’ve written at the end of the book almost six years previous, my insights and conclusion meeting her unspoken par, and before she can initiate any further discussion I stand from the green chair and kiss her, grateful to have been reminded of a book I read recently.