NOTE: This is a repost of an article I wrote for Book Riot on the 18th of February, 2016.
I am what Mindy Lahiri would call a Hindu-y person, but one belief that has been stamped onto my soul by my parents is that I must never, ever step on/brush my foot against/fling a book. I am certain I asked them why and I remember them being terrifyingly vague. It has something to do with pissing off Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. It may seem like an irrational belief to non-Hindus, but I am 100% sure that if I disrespect a book—no matter how much I hate it—I am going to wake up forgetting how to read English. (Not Hindi or Telugu, though, since I don’t/can’t read books in those languages.) So, I will wake up and people will speak to me but it will sound alien. (Literally, alien i.e. not alien in a “surely I can take a class and re-learn the language” way.) I will look at words and they’ll, I don’t know, look like tiny insects that try to bite my fingers. (Aaaaah!) You know, just the kind of ironic punishment that only an arachnophobic bibliophile who is bad at her second and third language would receive.
While this belief is one that makes sense to me (me, personally, perhaps), I have come to realize that I do have some irrational rules I’ve managed to cultivate all by myself over the years. I may know at the back of my mind that X actions could not possibly have Y consequences, but … I do X anyway, because what if Y does happen?! I am much too young to have such awful regrets!
1. Skipping Pages: I used to do this all the time. It started withHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I had skipped to the end to see if Remus Lupin’s name was mentioned, just to see if he had made through the war. It was mentioned, but … not in the tense I had expected. This happened a few more times with different books and I made the connection that if I ever checked to see if a character had made it through the story, they most certainly would be dead. Or, worse, undead!
2. No Breaks: This kind of ties in with the first point. If I am concerned that my favourite characters isn’t going to make it, I don’t allow myself to stop reading. I think a part of me feels like reading the book is somehow keeping the character alive? If I put the book down (even just to rest my eyes) I will break whatever strange, tenuous connection it is that keeps my fictional friend going. It’ll be all my fault if they die.
3. Only Two: If I read two books at a time, I believe that I will end up satisfied with both books. Three or more at a time, however, and I just know that I will end up regretting exactly one of my reads. (It’s happened once or twice. Obviously, it isn’t the writer’s fault. Obviously, this is on me.) Is it my dwindling patience? My inclination to skim the last book? I just don’t know.
4. Reading Often: If I don’t read at least one new book every ten days, I get this awful, gnawing sensation in the pit of my stomach. I just know someone will come to my apartment and ask to see my Reader’s License and I won’t be able to find it and then the mysterious Book Police will just have to confiscate my books and my e-reader. That, or an earthquake happens. Because, of course.
5. Bookstore Visits: When I go to a bookstore, I must always visit the YA/MG section. If I don’t, I believe that bookstore won’t, in the future, stock any of the books I am looking forward. Not even if I ask nicely. I will have to find a new bookstore. Maybe even move to a new city.
Does anyone else have bookish beliefs they can’t quite explain?