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The True Story of an Unrepentant Literary Sinner: Being an Account of the Porcupette’s Confessions of Bookish Sin

I found one of those fire-and-brimstone religious pamphlets in my mailbox today. It was good for a chuckle (the thing played fast and loose with grammatical rules and made conspicuous use of bold, italic and underlined text, sometimes all at once) and it made me think about sins. In a moment of clarity (and well aware of my need for some blogging inspiration) I sat down and looked inward—and discovered that many of my sins are unsurprisingly book related….

Adam, Eve and serpent in the Garden of Eden

Switch the fruit for a book and this would be about right.

I’m not by nature prone to envy, but throw books in the mix and the green-eyed monster rears its ugly head. I find myself jealous of people who are able to devour books by the reading-themed tote bag. How do they find the time to dedicate to all that pleasure reading, not to mention the mental ability to actually comprehend so much writing at the end of a long workday? Hearing about someone reading an entire book—or multiple books!—in a night is enough to send me into a tailspin of jealousy.

Perhaps this is related to my second bookish sin—sloth. While I surely envy those reading wildly outpaces my own, I have only myself to blame. There are times when my genuine desire to read is outweighed by the convenience of the television remote and the lack of brainpower needed to consume trash British reality TV. My laziness takes hold, and despite my best intentions to read a chapter or two, I’ll allow my brain to leak out my ears from a boob-tube marathon rather than hoist a book in front of my tired eyeballs.

On the other hand, when I overcome my bookish sloth, I can be an utter glutton for reading. Sometimes I get on such a roll, I start another book and gulp it down immediately, without even savouring it, after closing the covers on the last one. I’m one of those weirdos who likes to keep track of what she reads, and the pleasure of ticking a box gives me an immediate high.

Like many book lovers, I feel an inordinate amount of pride of my home library. I have been known to sit in my wingback chair, feet propped on the ottoman, and do nothing but stare at my bookshelves. It’s not even about choosing a book to read, or determining which books I have. It’s about enjoying the simple pleasure of tracing my eyes along the colourful spines. It’s about remembering snippets of great prose, or feelings engendered by certain scenes, or the time and place in my life I most associate with a given book. Pride in book ownership is definitely one of my sins.

antiques, including handsome bookcases

Who wouldn’t be proud of bookcases like this, I ask you?

Of course, related to this is my bookish greed. Can I resist buying new books even though I know I have dozens of unread volumes at home? Not a chance. Will I purchase new releases even though I’ve already run out of bookshelf space and have no reasonable place to store them? You bet your boots. More is better, right? I draw the line at procuring new editions of titles I already own, though I’ve been sorely tempted when the new cover is especially pretty.

The physical beauty of the book is something most book lovers recognize. Who among us hasn’t experienced a lust for those Instagram-perfect images of perfect home libraries or indie bookshops? And of course, we all drool over particularly beautiful cover images. Lovely design of a book interior gives me a rush as well. And if you’re a reader of romance, well, that’s another form of bookish lust, especially if you find yourself ‘thirsty’ for the characters!

And finally, I have, indeed, experienced literary wrath. You know when you read a book and you hate the characters so much you want to tear your hair out? (Ahem, Wuthering Heights.) Or perhaps you invested a tonne of time into a much touted “modern classic” only to find you hated it with a passion. (Looking at you, A Confederacy of Dunces.) Or maybe the author went and broke your heart by killing off a character. (I will never forgive J. K. Rowling for Fred.) Face it, most of us book lovers have encountered their fair share of book-induced wrath.

The verdict is in. I’m officially a literary sinner. There’s no hope for recovery. But seeing as there is much reading to do for us sinners of a bookish sort, I think I’m going to be just fine.

 

PortraitWhat about you, PQL friends? Are you literary sinners, too? Or are you far more virtuous than me? Feel free to leave a comment below!Steph


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3 Responses to The True Story of an Unrepentant Literary Sinner: Being an Account of the Porcupette’s Confessions of Bookish Sin

  1. Pingback: The Porcupine’s Quill

  2. Ross says:

    Ha! I can relate to many of your descriptions. I admit to vacillating between the extremes of sloth and gluttony!

  3. Laurie Lewis says:

    Oh, Porcupette, I am such fan.Thank you for all you do at PQ, and for enchanting your readers. When I grow up I want to be just like you, though I confess it’s getting just a bit too late for self-improvement. One of my pet indulgences is the accidental-encounter-volume, picked up from a used book table somewhere… Read it and leave it. Park benches, coffee shops …. What fun. Thanks, Steph.

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.