Bibliophiles Anonymous

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Hello, my name is Beth and I am a bibliophile.

I have been a bibliophile for most of my life, from the days when my parents would stack cardboard books by my crib, from the days where I memorized Madeliene and convinced my father I could read (little did he realize that I held the book upside down), to the days when I read my first real chapter book, Ann Rinaldi’s A Break With Charity, when I was 8.

My room is filled with books. Stacks of them. Old books, new books, books that have been thumbed through a thousand times and books that I have yet to read. Not to mention all of the books I have floating about in my head, waiting to be written.

My recent book loves are varied. Histories of spy organizations, children’s books of the Dahl variety and epic French literature (I finished Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and will be reading Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo soon). My time to enjoy these works is slim. But still I read.

Books…oh how to praise them without resorting to the usual cliches? They are entertaining and enlightening. We can travel to new worlds and learn about ourselves through characters in books.

But, why do I love books so? Why do I love reading? Writing?

Honestly, I don’t know. My mom bribed me when I was little so I wouldn’t watch TV. $1 a week bonus to allowence if I watched less than 2  hours of TV. It worked pretty well–I didn’t watch any TV show until Lost premiered in 2004 (and I’ve been a pretty loyal fan; am finally watching season 6). But I digress.

My love of books began long before those days and has continued even after I belatedly discovered the awesome stories that can air on TV (24, Lost, The Prisoner) and how great movies are. If anything, I’ve become more of a bibliophile, being drawn to new authors, and to more classic works. If it hadn’t been for The Prisoner, I doubt I would have read Kafka’s The Trial or anything by John Le Carre (I love research. Have I said that before? I LOVE RESEARCH).

Books, unlike television, aren’t dependent on a schedule or pricey cable package. I can always go to the library and get something new to read.

Look Ma! No Paragraphs!

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

So, as a counterpoint to the light movies I’ve been watching lately, I’ve started reading Kafka’s The Trial. I’ve never read anything by Kafka, and this work is mentioned rather frequently in the research I’ve done on The Prisoner, so…reading it I am.

One thing that I’ve noticed  about the book is the lack of paragraphs. There isn’t any separation between dialogue; the end result is massive paragraphs that go on for an entire chapter. I find that I can’t skim-read; I must read each and every word to know who is saying what. Otherwise, one missed dialogue tag and I really am clueless.

I hadn’t given much consideration to the separation of dialogue by different paragraphs. It, in my eyes, was a given. A new character speaks and there is a new line.

Not so in The Trial. Lines run together, making it some times difficult to figure out who is speaking when. The result is, though, fitting for the story. The reader, much like main character Joseph K., is left confused. The story, focusing on a man who is arrested and not informed as to what his crime is, leaves the reader in a state of uncertainty. Who is this Joseph K., really? Who are his tormentors? Why has he been arrested?

The lack of separate paragraphs provide a cramped, uncomfortable, almost prisonlike in your inability to escape. The text is closed. When reading, I can’t help but want to escape the bounds of the page, no doubt just as Joseph K. longs to escape the rigid, though ill defined, justice system.

The uncertainty is killing me. But I like it.