The Minor Annoyances of Reading

Books With Uneven Page Edges

I looked it up, and apparently this is called ‘Deckle Edge.’ Deckle was the device used in old-timey papermaking that limited the size of the sheet. Because it was old-timey, it sort of sucked, and you got these uneven sheet lengths.

Now, of course, the deckle is obsolete. I’m assuming papermaking is now digital, because every-fucking-thing is now digital. The iPaper is out there shitting out perfectly identical sheets of paper every second of every day and we should all be grateful because deckle edge blows chunks.

Obviously I’m not angry at actual antique books with the uneven edges. That would be like getting angry at vinyl albums for the fuzzy sound and the pops. It was the best that could be done at the time. What I do get angry with are books printed in the modern era, given the deckle edge on purpose to make them look old.

Fucking. Why.

It makes it so much harder to thumb through the pages. I am in the middle of a thought, here, quite literally in the middle of a sentence, and my brain can only stretch out the last word for so long before it begins humming in idle mode while I desperately try to separate two uneven pages from each other with my thumbnail which is harder than it should be because not only are these pages unevenly cut they’re also, like, chopped or something so the edges aren’t smooth, oh, no, of course not, they’re rough and clinging to each other like the ice cubes in your lemonade, ready to smash into your face as soon as you have the glass high enough.

And by the time I’ve finally flipped the page, I’ve totally lost the plot. Fuck.

The worst part is that they’re insidious! The inspiration for this post is that I asked for a copy of On the Road for Christmas and I didn’t realize it had deckle edges until I got it! The pictures don’t show the edges and no one is going to bother to list it anywhere and, I mean, I don’t even understand why this thing has deckle edges. It was released in the fifties! That’s not that old!

I Have Never Once Gotten A Book Back After I’ve Lent It To Someone

Has anyone? Ever? Or do we all have sleazy friends that we can’t even trust with a quarter pound of black ink on pulp?

The one that hurt the worst, for me, was the first copy of The Stand I owned. It wasn’t anything special, just the late nineties Signet paperback edition with the black and blue cover and minimalist art on the front. I’d been going through a Stephen King phase for a couple of years by the point I finally read The Stand. I was barely a teenager and apocalyptic stuff completely freaked me out beyond anything I could handle so I was steering clear. I think I caught Left Behind on the television once without any context and it really did some damage. Now I have a whole page listing all my end-of-the-world short stories. That’s growth!

Anyway, the summer after sophomore year of high school I finally decided I could handle it and read the whole thing in the space of three days. Like, wake up and read. And nothing else. I grew up in Massachusetts with no central air, so every summer my dad would put window unit air conditioners in the bedroom windows. We weren’t allowed to run them during the day, only at night so we could sleep (because the sound of a mid-two thousands window unit chunking through air with all the subtlety of an overblown Hans Zimmer score makes for some peaceful sleep). I didn’t have, you know, friends in high school, so those three days and nights glued to this crappy paperback are some of strongest memories I have. In bed, close to midnight, the room deliciously cold, the air conditioner singing the song of its people directly in my ear, desperate for sleep but equally in need of the next chapter.

And then in college I gave that copy to some ‘friend’ who turned out to be a massive bitch and I never saw her or it again. Whoops. I got myself a new copy of the same Signet printing, but I know it’s not the same one. This is why my new policy is ‘No, you can’t have that. Get a fucking library card.’

“What Are You Reading? Oh? What’s It About?”

It’s about me putting my foot so far up your ass you can see how silky-smooth my heels are after weeks of scrubbing and lotion.

I’m reading.

You know what I want to do?

Continue reading.

You know what I don’t want to fucking do?

Talk about reading.

Did I miss something? Did I miss the exact moment we, two complete strangers in an airport, became a book club of two? Because no one poured me a glass of Pinot and I think that’s just really fucking rude. So unless you want to march on down to the Chili’s Express and get me an eleven dollar and sixty-three cent glass of house white, you can go back to your uncomfortable seat and mind your p’s and q’s, Janet.

Special shout out to the creepy lady in the aisle seat who waited until I was nice and pinned into the window seat and we were thousands of feet in the air before asking about what book I was reading and using that as a segue to trying to sell me on Jesus.

Books With Movie or Television Tie-Ins

Most people like to be smug by vehemently preferring ‘original covers’ to movie tie-in covers, but I like to go a different route to fill my smugness quota:

I don’t fucking care what’s on the cover.

Look at all you people with your opinions on things I deem stupid or trivial. I can’t believe you’re wasting your time and energy  being mad that your book has a ‘Soon to be a major motion picture!’ sticker on it. I am positively shocked that anyone would bother writing a four hundred word tumblr post on why the movie cover of The Great Gatsby is a crime against the humanities compared with the original. Ooooh, look at me, I’m not getting mad about such frivolities! I direct all of my energy at very important matters, such as paper edges or the height of paperbacks.

Not only do I get to be smug about my opinion, I get to be smug about the fact that my opinion is so much more chill than your opinion. It’s a fucking smugness layer cake, and it’s delicious.

Also, my copy of The Dead Zone has Christopher Walken on it, so I don’t know, I think movie tie-in covers might be okay.


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