It’s a well-known fact that reading is the best hobby ever. It’s also a pastime I enjoy. I am an avid bookworm who has a seemingly never-ending collection of old bookmarks and randomness found between the pages of donated books, I don’t normally lend out books for fear of my own books being damaged by butterfingered clots, and I really hate it when people dog-ear their beloved books un-necessarily.
But more on that later.
Reading (and books themselves) can become a bit of an inconvenience at times and there are usually several factors (let’s just call them pet peeves for the sake of argument) that, at times, can cause this. I enjoy being the team leader for books (and media) at work, but working in the department can sometimes have its downsides, and I’m about to unleash hell on all the annoyances that generally grind my gears, ruffle my feathers, puffle my jigglies, wind me up and drive me up the wall about all things to do with books/reading.
001: Bent pages.
As someone who works mainly in the book department in a local charity shop, it really irritates me seeing donated books with pages that have been bent over. Who are you, Satan? Is it really so hard digging into your bag to find an old ticket or receipt of some sort to hold your page when you haven’t got a bookmark to hand? Would you do that with someone else’s books or books you’ve borrowed from libraries? Every time a page in a book gets folded over, a little part of my soul dies inside. I don’t mind books I’ve bought myself getting a bit dog-eared (I have a really old copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that I wrote/highlighted in back in my college days and is also falling apart), nor do I mind seeing books that have obviously been read so much that the spine and cover have been creased, but what mainly grates on me is bent-over pages. I have to go through the books and un-bend the pages. And that takes time. I enjoy finding things that have been left in donated books (I’ve found everything from old photos, to random bits of paper, to jewellery, to old letters and love-notes, to postcards and even bookmarks). At least I know those books have been well looked after and haven’t been defaced by some Satanic pig bending pages over. And, best of all, I get to keep the bookmarks for myself. Two of my favourite bookmarks, an old pair of cardboard 3D glasses and a plastic orange one with a hand on the end, were actually found in donated books. Please keep me happy by letting me find random stuff in books and not having to spend ages sorting bent pages out. Thank you.
002: So-called “easy-peel” stickers stuck on the front cover.
This sort-of ties in with the above, actually. Easy-peel? Yeah right… and I’m the bloody Pope! I’ve lost count of the amount of book covers I’ve accidentally ripped whilst trying to remove stickers that have obviously been stuck there for years and now are so stuck that they won’t budge. And, whilst I like Waterstones and WHSmith, two bookshops I adore, they’re usually the worst culprits for this. The stickers are stuck over characters’ faces, or over the blurb, and they’re a pain to remove. One of my latest (brand new) purchases, the last Harry Potter book, had a small £10 sticker on it and it left a sticky residue all over the front cover which I couldn’t get off. Unfortunately, working in our book department, I have to use stickers too and, when I make an error with pricing, I have to peel them off and I STILL end up ripping the book cover by accident. Good job our paperbacks are only a quid for a second-hand book or nobody would buy them!
(SIDE NOTE: I DO love stickers (I have a notebook with city names all over the cover that I use as a sticker book for when I’ve found random stickers and have nowhere else to stick them), I just hate them stuck all over the front of a book I’ve bought. That is all.)
003: Cracked spines.
Urgh! The only time I’ve EVER cracked the spine of a book was whilst doing my Wreck This Journal (it was one of the instructions to ‘wreck’ the book) and I hated it. Doing this ruins your book and, most of the time, the pages will fall out which means, if you do ever donate it into a charity shop, it won’t be in a sellable condition and will end up going to World Of Books or some other company that takes old, knackered, worn and ripped second-hand books. As I said before, I don’t mind my books getting slightly dog-eared but, much like bent pages, I won’t crack the spine. Letting the book cover get tatty and pages going an off-yellow colour, yes, but that’s about it. If I see you crack spines or bending over pages of your beloved book, prepare to get a bop on the conk. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
004: Fifty Shades Of Grey.
Need I REALLY explain this one? The assistant manager at one of the charity shops I work in said it best: “That isn’t erotica, it’s pathetic.” And do you know what? I agree with her. It’s packed full of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, text speak and the author has no idea of the concept of what erotica actually is. I do have a mug that reads ‘keep calm whilst reading Fifty Shades Of Grey‘ but someone found me it at work and was having a laugh with me when I told her I can’t stand the book series. I used to have the series myself (I got halfway through the first book before I gave it up as a bad smell) and I left it festering on my shelf for ages before I finally caved in and dumped the whole series into a box for World Of Books at work, which is what I do when we get them donated in. I didn’t care what happened to them, I just wanted rid of THE LOT, and my shelves looks so much better without them.
005: Different editions/covers/sizes of books.
I love Harry Potter but this is just one series that’s guilty of this. My copies of the HP series are the older ones with three different colours and cartoons on the front but, most recently, I’ve seen copies of Deathly Hallows with Slytherin’s necklace on the front of it, plus newer editions with a prettier cover than mine, and it drives me mad, especially when it took me what seemed like an age completing my collection in the first place after looking in EVERY charity shop around town. Also, the HP series originally started out in paperback edition, then changed to hardback, complete with dust covers, and got a bit bigger. The latest one has got bigger still and I had to rearrange my bookshelf to get it where I wanted, making my bookshelf look a bit, well, messy. And that’s a shame.
006: Customers who mess books up at work.
Speaking of messy, another thing that winds me up is, five minutes after I’ve put new books out for sale at work and/or rearranged the shelves for the umpteenth time of asking, some sod decides it’s a good idea to take books out, look at them, then put them back either in the wrong place (they’re all in alphabetical order from A-Z), put them back in some random place instead of putting fiction back with fiction or non-fiction with non-fiction, or just put them back in a neat pile HORIZONTALLY on the shelf instead of vertically like they’re supposed to be. Arrrrrgggggh! If you’re going to come in buying books from us, please leave the shelves as you find them. Thank you.
007: My tablet battery’s short lifespan.
Whilst I love normal books, I do have an e-reader (well, actually, it’s a Samsung Galaxy tablet with the Amazon Kindle app on it), and it’s always an inconvenience when the battery decides it’s a good idea to conk out whilst I’m in the middle of reading a good book on it, especially if I’m on a mode of public transport (usually a bus or a plane – some trains over here actually DO have plug sockets) where I can’t charge it. Grrrr!
008: Badly written books.
This ties in with Fifty Shades Of Shite (see #4). If you’re going to write a book that’s filled with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, text speak, using ‘said’ all the way through the book (there are other adjectives that could be used instead) or misusing punctuation marks, I’m not going to waste my time reading it any further. Another thing that bothers me is inconsistency. What’s the point?
009: Self-help books.
According to good old Wikipedia, these are the type of books that are written purely to instruct the reader on how to solve personal problems. And they drive me crackers! I’ve seen so many of these that have been donated in at work but they actually serve no useful purpose for me other than cluttering up my bookshelves with crap. As I said in one of my earlier blog posts, I don’t mind some of these books, such as DIY manuals, books on how to do first aid, books to help you lose weight/exercise more and even the Bible, but the majority of them are just shite! The worst culprit for these, I think, is the hypnotist Paul McKenna. I don’t care if you can make us all thin in just a few weeks, nor do I need help sleeping or stopping smoking (I don’t smoke anyway), you can take your books and jog on. Thank you.
010: Any Dan Brown book.
I’ve seen too many copies of The Da Vinci Code, Angels And Demons, Digital Fortress and other copies of his books that have been donated in at work, and I’m getting sick of the sight of the bastard things. I’ve lost count of the number of copies of his books I’ve put out for sale or dumped into World Of Books. I can’t stand him or his damn books. I may like reading but there is a limit to which authors I will actually read. Dan Brown isn’t one of those authors. If you’re going to dispose of his books in my shop, BE WARNED – they will probably go the same way as any/all copies of FSOG. You have been warned.
PS: This was also my first blog post since around June last year. That’s nearly EIGHT MONTHS! I really must get into the habit of blogging more shouldn’t I? I don’t call myself a blogger for nothing!