Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Club

Right now I'm reading Sarah Vowell's essay collection Take the Cannoli, and I'm really enjoying it. I've enjoyed every book of hers that I've read (I think this is the last one that I hadn't, actually) ever since my friend Stan(ford) mentioned one of her books in his year end book writeup a few years ago and I thought, "Oh, that sounds interesting."

(I put the "ford" in parentheses because I still think of my friend Stan as my friend Stan, but feel like I'm supposed to use Stanford now that we are grownups.)

I'm in kind of a weird experience with this book right now, though, because I'm reading it along with someone else, and I have no idea if they are enjoying it or not. I feel like they are, based on comments here and there, but it's just a guess, and I can't ask them for clarification because I have no idea who my reading partner is.

I'm in a phantom book club with a total stranger.

I bought this copy of the book at McKay's, my local used bookstore. I've mentioned them before, as they are the greatest used bookstore I've ever been to in my life, but I don't know if I've ever been clear that we're going on three years or so since I paid cash for a book at McKay's. I return books to the store for credit every couple of months, and then buy more books. Since buying books costs more than I get for turning them in, logically I should run out of money, but I also pick up enough new books that I don't keep and books at yard sales, flea markets, library book sales, etc. that my McKay's credit gets little boosts every now and then.

It also lasts a little longer because I am careful and slightly stingy with it, which explains how I ended up in the phantom book club. I knew I wanted a copy of this book, so when I found the Sarah Vowell section (in humor, rather than in history; I'm not sure I agree with the classification since she writes dryly humorously about historical events) I found three copies of this. The first was a hardcover at seven dollars, which I rejected since there were two paperbacks and paperbacks are always cheaper than hardcovers. One paperback was five and change, but I decided to check the other anyway, and it turned out to be four dollars. I took the four dollar paperback, since it looked just like the more expensive one but with slightly more cover wear, and figured they had just been priced at different times when demand was fluctuating.

(This happens there sometimes. There is a bin of free books up front, which are the books that people bring in that the store doesn't take and that the people don't want back. I usually donate my discards to the bin, figuring that someone will want them, but a couple times I've turned in a book that I originally got from the bin and they have given me credit for it, so there are definite fluctuations in what they do and do not take and how much money you get for it.)

I started reading the book this week, and that's when I discovered that I have a reading partner: almost every page has been marked by someone who studied this and left notes.

I just can't read the notes:

notes in my book (1)

Or, rather, I can't read most of the notes:

notes in my book (2)

but as you can see from the first photo there are random English words mixed in with whatever language that is. Not only that, but some of them are English words that I agree with:

notes in my book (3)

That last sentence was a really good ending to that essay. My phantom reading partner and I are in agreement on that.

I just have no idea what they said about the rest of the chapter.


Jeannie said...

That is so funny - and kinda creepy. You should totally do that to a book so you can anonymously spread your crazy to others. Maybe you will one day find your marked-up book on someone else's blog.

Marcheline said...

Looks like Sanskrit. ... can I buy a Vowell? (couldn't resist that, heh)

Justin Bower said...

Make random notes of your own, with no particular meaning.

"Fire Hydrant? Wednesday rutabaga sunrise!"

Future generations of English majors will postulate about the hidden meanings therein.