The Worth(lessness) of Books

Bookshelves in front of a castle

Books and Castle by Nufkin / CC BY 2.0

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.


3 thoughts on “The Worth(lessness) of Books

  1. Emily

    I never went through a shoplifting phase, either. But, I did like The Little Princess.

    Not sure about the whole not-finishing-a-book thing, though. There are a few I’ve put down in the past several months, but they were all things I’ve read before. Does that count?

  2. Emily

    Girl with too good of a heart is sent to boarding school. Father dies somewhere far off in a colony. There is no more $ for girl to attend school, so she is transitioned to working there. Requisite servant abuse commences. Kind-hearted neighbor takes pity on her and her unfailing kindness [yeah, I told you she was too-good], and sneaks her things like food, heat and warm clothes. She befriends previous/current servant girl, and shares her new found bounty.

    In the end, some far off wealthy relation finds her, and plucks her from the jaws of poverty.

    So, not the most original, or exciting story, but there you have it.

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