I really like books. I also like to have money around for basic needs. My love for eating outweighs my love for reading, therefore free books are a mixed blessing. Like grandma (or Dad or Uncle Jon or whoever) always said (probably): “there’s a reason it’s free.”
Down the hall from a radio station where I spend my mornings is a shelf that offers a small selection of free books, all for the taking by guys like me. Because we share hallways with academics, they are often books that only academics pretend to care about. These are publications with titles like “The Plight of Kansas In an Epoch of St. Blanorexis: A Theoretical Approach to Goldfish Tending in the 20th Century.” Listen: when the title alone takes up 3 pages, you might be better off reading a phone book. That way you’ll know the people in your neighborhood AND be able to compare lawyers by the sheer volume of law books pictured in their advertisements.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the academic. Quite the contrary. However, if even a true academic finds a book to be an affliction, then that’s not a good sign. Free. Take it. I can’t stand it anymore. I don’t even want to see its title on my shelves! Be gone to the free shelf! And may your curse fall upon whoever (or whomever) shall take you!
And that’s where I come in as the unwillingly cursed one. “Hmmm…” I think aloud. “I’ve been thinking about tending goldfish in the 20th century, and I’ve never been to Kansas. This is gonna be SWEET.”
Fast forward six months.
Emily: “O-kaaay. Have you *ever* read this?”
Me: “Hmmm…” I think aloud.
Emily: “Goldfish in Kansas? Adam, you have five books about this already, plus one you’re writing concerning the same subject.”
Me: “It’s doomed to fail.”
Emily: (hands me a tissue)
Me: (gently weeping)
Book: (thrown in a bin marked “Lake”)
Now that I look at it, I realize that I’m the last stop for free books. After me, they go straight to the bottom of the lake.
Blessing? Curse? Either way, books are great for shimming up crooked stuff.