Book Pushers

July 12, 2008 at 7:07 am | Posted in Book Blather | Leave a comment

(December 13, 2007)

Have you ever met one of these?  Someone you know comes and hands you a book and says, “You should read this.”  Maybe you were talking about books, or maybe you’ve been seen reading something.  For whatever reason, the Book Pusher has singled you out.

This can be a good experience.  If you’re lucky, the Book Pusher is well-read, has similar tastes to yours, and enjoys giving books away.  Undoubtedly the book will really be up your alley, and when you finish it, the Book Pusher will share your delight.  This happened with my friend T., who brought me Bel Canto.  It happened to be right in the beginning of my half-successful No Books Challenge back in September.  (I didn’t blog about it because at first I was sure I couldn’t make it a month without reading a book, and then I became so depressed I could barely think about it without breaking down.  I spent the whole month updating Quicken and making vast amounts of soup).  Anyway, I was so excited by the book that I got it on audio and listened to it, rather than wait three weeks.  Indeed, it was one of the best books ever.  Plus, I was able to return it without breaking the spine.

My friend S. encountered a Book Pusher of a different stripe – the Bundler.  The Bundler sent S. a box of about a dozen books that “I thought you might enjoy.”  Poor S. has been trying to read them all, one after the other, while adjusting to a demanding new job.  She’s earnest and ambitious, so of course she wants to read all these books in record time – meaning she can’t enjoy reading our book club book.  Her nightstand is apparently stacked over a foot high.  The Bundler, however, is not concerned with deadlines or book reports.  It’s more along the lines of, “Wow, my house is full of books; how can I get rid of some of these?”  My grandma does this – she buys books by the grocery sack load, reads them all, and then passes most on to my dad.  He reads through the ones he thinks he’ll like, and then sometimes sets aside a few for me or my brother.  Honestly, if Mim had kept every book she ever bought, she’d have to live in a warehouse.

The bad kind of Book Pusher can induce guilt trips of the first water.  Much ado will be made over this, the Best Book Ever, which for whatever reason will not ring your bell in any way, shape, or form.  Yet you’ve accepted it and now it will be your albatross.  You will pick it up and thumb through it listlessly.  Meanwhile, a hundred thousand fascinating new books will dance before you, each infinitely more interesting than the Albatross.  Months will go by and you will not have managed to get more than an eighth of an inch into the text.  Somehow you’ve already damaged the cover, so you feel yet more impelled to read this dreary tome.  You avoid sustained eye contact with the Book Pusher, lest you be asked, “How are you liking…?”  If you are terribly unlucky, the Book Pusher will somehow fade from your life, by moving or changing jobs, and you will no longer be able to locate this person to return the Albatross.  It will haunt your bookshelves, taunting you with its dusty self forevermore.

The best kind of Book Pusher simply suggests a title or author and then lets it rest.  You’re at the library or the bookstore, and you stumble across this title, now intriguingly familiar.  You pick it up and read the jacket (unless you are B., who refuses to read book jackets), and before you know it, you’re already into the first chapter.  (Unless you are T., in which case you have to flip to the back and read the ending first).  You race through the tantalizing new book, and go back to your Book Pusher for another hit.

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