The topic for this week’s TTT, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is Bookworm Delights; I think the idea is to write about how nice the pages of a new book smell and such, but I don’t really feel like showing the world just how weird I am about stuff like that. So I am going to write about my Top Ten Bookworm Experiences, because that will in no way whatsoever expose how weird I am.
That time I saw a writer on a train
Back in the day, we knew of Louise Wener as the singer from a Britpop band called Sleeper, who are, in case you’re wondering awesome (and if you don’t know that, you should listen to Inbetweener. Now). These days, she is a pretty good novelist, as well as the author of an excellent memoir called Different for Girls. About a bazillion years ago, my friend Lucy and I saw her on a train from Essex to London. She was writing something. I now like to look back on this and imagine she was writing one of her books and our obsessive (but obviously very cool) staring inspired her.
That time I beat the system and my seminar group hated me
When I was studying for my Masters, I took a course called something awful like Cinematic Landscapes, which involved watching a lot of westerns and film noir. On the reading list was a book called Hollywood Genres, which cost £40. Yes, 40 actual pounds. I found a copy on ebay for 50p. Not only was this an epic bargain, but the seller lived down the road from my parents and so I dispatched the father to pick it up, thus saving myself the postage. Obviously I shared my triumph with my peers, who had all paid £40 for a book we mentioned maybe once all semester.
That time I had to cut someone out of the group
So, I hate lending people books and have basically stopped doing it. I cannot psychologically deal with the awkwardness of navigating that moment when it becomes clear the lendee thought you were just giving them a book. Is that even a thing? Anyway, before I realised the horror of this situation, I lent my copy of Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk to a (now ex-) friend and never got it back. I complained about this for so long that my husband bought me a first edition, signed by Chuck himself, for Christmas. I married well, people.
That time I accidentally lied to my grandmother
I adore my grandmother; she is a complete legend. Even though she has all kind of horrible-sounding stuff going on with her eyes, she is still a devoted reader, when she isn’t quizzing me about how house prices in the north compare with those in the south. So I was very happy when my mum told me that said grandmother really wanted a copy of J.B. Priestley’s The Good Companions and hadn’t been able to find one; she’d had a copy years ago, but didn’t know where it had gone. Being the internet-savvy legend that I am, I found a copy and bought it for her birthday. Nanny was thrilled. A few weeks later, I was packing up my bookshelves to move house, and found a copy of J.B. Priestley’s The Good Companions. I opened it. It had my grandmother’s name in it. Luckily, she found this very funny. Then asked me how much my house cost.
That time I was an alcohol-fuelled genius
I was a very devoted student at university. But I also sometimes got forced to go out, even if I had a deadline the next day. During my first year, I was bullied into going to a club and had to abandon my Waiting for Godot essay, which I was struggling with due to the fact that Waiting for Godot is impossible to write about. I escaped from my social kidnapping at approximately 2am, went straight to the IT room and finished my essay. It achieved the best goddamn mark I received in the whole of my first year and my tutor called it “inspired.” Next time I’m struggling with a book review, I’m just going to hit the tequila.
That time I hated typing
Also during my degree, I took a course on Shakespeare and his contemporaries. During said course, I wrote an essay about Henry V, specifically focusing on the contrast between his public and private personas. I know: smart, right? Except when you type carelessly and miss out the ‘l’ in ‘public,’ your essay turns into something quite different. Oddly, my tutor said she really enjoyed my essay but I’m not sure it was because of my impressive understanding of the Battle of Agincourt.
That time my teachers probably hated me
As a big-time English nerd, I always thought I was being a brilliant student by reading my set texts overnight and knowing the answer to every single question the teacher asked from that point on. Having been given my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale, I started reading it on the bus home, kept reading it instead of talking to my family and had finished it by the next day. Now that I am a teacher, I can appreciate how annoying this was. Yes, I was keen and that’s good; all those lessons the teacher had planned for us to read the book, however, were just opportunities for me to annoy everyone by smugly saying, “oh, I’ve read this bit.” It’s weird how I survived school.
So, that’s only 7, but this is now really long, so I’m going to call it quits, get drunk and write a review of that Neil Gaiman book I just read which really confused me. Please feel free to share your own bookworm past in the comments. Together, we can heal.