Bookmark #704

There are many reasons you might hate a book, and let me tell you: it is perfectly fine to have it on your bookshelf still, like how you remember the birthday of an old friend you haven’t talked to in years, with unmatched familiarity.

You could hate a book because it is a terrible book, or that you never found the time to read it, and now it serves as a reminder of your procrastination, or you could hate it because the person who gave it to you is not in your life for reasons you do not want to dive into further, or because you once really enjoyed it but have now outgrown it like a pair of jeans from your adolescence—while it may not serve any purpose now, it was instrumental once. But perhaps, the most crucial kind of hate for a book you could have is when you fundamentally disagree with the author or find their existence infuriating but also carry a deep respect for the magnitude of their work.

All these are perfectly fine to have on your bookshelf, and it makes me wince in disgust when I enter someone’s home and see a bookshelf, but there are only books they agree with, or books that are popular to have, or those from only one era, or one author, or books that seemingly only talk about one thing. It’s ugly and perverse; worse, it tells no story. Having a bookshelf without a story is worse than having no bookshelf at all.

If at least a quarter of the books have not turned yellow on the sides, owing to the pastel touch of time, it is too recent a bookshelf, which means whoever owns it (provided they have kept the practice of reading for a while and not begun just now, where the latter has an exemption from this yardstick, and I wholeheartedly welcome them to the club) has actively discarded books out of it, which suggests that they do not care about the reading as much as they care about reading the right things where what defines the “right” is as arbitrary as any of society’s fickle whims.

I could not, in my right mind, ever trust someone who only lives this life of appearance. I would not trust them with dividing portions of food, giving friendly advice on a mundane problem, or speaking a simple smidge of truth even when there was no reason to lie.

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