Hardcovers, Why Can’t I Love You?

Imagine the scene: it’s the 2007 National Book Awards. In the banquet hall, each table features a centerpiece made up of copies of the nominated titles. Invited guests polish off their desserts while, up in the balcony, the press and a small pack of bloggers put some polish on their writing. Fran Lebowitz speaks the last words of her closing remarks and the awards ceremony officially ends. Lured by the scent of freebies, crazed bloggers stampede down the stairs and run through the banquet hall grabbing books as authors and industry-types topple in their wake.

Well, it wasn’t exactly like that. But I’m sure I moved at a quicker clip than usual. And I did stick my finger into an untouched dessert tray just for a little taste. Whatever happened, my copy of Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End started out as an NBA centerpiece.

It’s a hardcover and it has been pissing me off. Not the story, which is entertaining enough, but the actual, physical object.

First off, I took off the dust jacket. Such action is sort of counterproductive since the jacket exists as protection, but I find it a nuisance. Jackets tend to creep skyward on me, making books too tall and gangly. Up to now, Then We Came to the End has been at home, at work, in the car, and on several lunches. The poor thing is becoming positively filthy, and it bothers me more to wreck a hardcover than a paperback.

When at lunch, the damn thing is simply too heavy and inflexible to hold open with one hand while eating with the other. I am forced to read with it lying on the table, so it also has been doubling as a placemat.

Then yesterday as I rode the elevator, I dropped the book on my foot. One of its corners got smashed in the fall and I have a little round bruise on the top of my foot. I’m glad I didn’t break a toe, but none of this is helping me love the thing.

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