• The Book Jerk’s Manifesto

    by  •  • Etiquette, Life Skills

    I read a bunch of books all at once and I don’t really care what you think about it.

    There, I said it!


    There is a bit more to the story than this. I used to guiltily -even secretly- keep a couple of books on the go. I would pray that no one would find out or -gasp- catch me with a different book to the one I was reading yesterday.

    It felt like a defect of character. Like I somehow didn’t have the brain or the attention span to finish one measly book. For this, I blame how we are introduced to books in primary school.

    Eventually I broadened this out to allow myself one book per category. So I would have one novel, one non-fiction book, one work-related book, one graphic novel series, etc but that was it.

    About six months a thought occurred to me:

    Fuck this.

    I have about thirty five tabs open in my browser at the moment. I channel surf my TV like a demon. I am on my laptop while I am channel surfing.

    Each morning at Starbucks I read the Financial Times on my blackberry and play about on Facestalk on my other smartphone while listening to podcasts on my iPod.

    Also, I have an excellent memory. (Somewhat surprising given my all-out war on my own brain cells.) What am I risking here? That I will forget something? So what if I do? Turn back a few fucking pages, problem solved.

    Why are books different? Because they’re old? Because my primary school librarian, Mrs Ebert (see? memory.) brainwashed us all into believing books have some kind of inherent ‘worthiness’ quite apart from the content printed on their pages?

    Books may have had this additional level of esteem or mana in the past; in a media-scarce age where people actually thought the bible was good for something other than cluttering up hotel drawers.

    But they don’t now.

    They are media. And they deserve the exact same treatment as the other ingredients in my media soup.

    No, it doesn’t make any difference that they are -without question- the ingredient I would give up last if I had to choose.

    No, it doesn’t make any difference that I have been published in a number of forms and plan to have at least one book of my own out at some stage.

    Please be aware that being a book jerk is not the same as starting a book and never finishing it. (Unless it’s shit. If it’s shit then you owe it nothing. Life is short.) “Never getting around” to finishing a book shows disorganisation.

    To be a book jerk takes effort.

    For example: more stringent management of your bookshelves. The only books allowed in my bedroom (I do most of my reading here and in pubs) are ones that I am actively book jerking at the time.

    If it’s finished, it goes back out onto the bookshelf. If it’s shit then I will probably re-gift it.

    I am a book jerk. And I am no longer ashamed!

    The Book Jerk’s Manifesto

    1. I will read as many fucking books at the one time as I like.
    2. I will finish books or I will abandon them. There is no in-between!
    3. Books aren’t vegetables. I don’t have to choke down an ass-tasting book that I am really hating. It won’t make me any healthier.
    4. I will stringently manage my book collection: ‘active’ books will live in my designated reading area. ‘Inactive’ books will live on my bookshelf.
    5. I will no longer hide my book jerkery for fear of reprisals from the ghost of Jane Austen or the public at large. The world must know the truth. We exist!
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