In this Sunday’s New York Times is an alternately funny and sad article by Margo Rabb about the uptick in stolen books. Now I feel the strange need to go out and buy a Martin Amis book…although I’d never heard of him before.
Apparently, I was the rare teenager who didn’t go through a shoplifting phase. I guess I was too much of a goody two-shoes, for the thought never crossed my mind. If I didn’t have enough money or my mom had said no, well, tough luck for me.
However, like Ms. Rabb, books always held a revered place in my eyes. I was appalled when people dog-eared pages. Creases in the corners of library books always made me sad and slightly angry. It also took me quite a while to realize that I could actually not finish a book that I started. Most kids my age didn’t read or had no qualms about abandoning a book, act that were unfathomable to me.
I remember struggling through A Little Princess. I hated it. I’d read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden and loved it, but this princess book of hers killed me. At the point, I only read one book at a time. The books I was waiting to read were stacking up and I couldn’t wait to move on. But I stuck with it, every page a teeth wrenching chore.
My mom, my “you can’t leave the table until you finish your zucchini” mom, told me to stop reading the book. I didn’t listen to her; I finished and was never rewarded for it by a brilliant ending or a medal. To this day I remember A Little Princess, but have no clue what it was about. Since then, I still feel an obligation to the author to finish, but am much more willing to abandon ship.