Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Book Was Altered

I don’t think I have mentioned it yet, but I love reading mysteries. Sometimes I’m even reading two or three at the same time. There is always on one my nightstand; another in the bathroom; and often a third in my car for those times—such as appointments with my physician—when I know I’m going to have a long wait.

I have my favorite authors and some day I may blog a list of them. I also have my favorite books by those authors and I sometimes re-read them. Of course, I only do that when it has been years since I read it and I’ve forgotten the yarn.

One of my favorite mystery writers is Martha Grimes. She’s an American who writes about a Scotland Yard detective named Richard Jury and a whole cast of regular characters that are truly charming. Someday I’ll write more about those characters, but that’s not what this post is about.

For the past several days I have been re-reading Grimes’ novel, The Case Has Altered. It has been seven or so years since I first read it and even 75% through the book I still could not remember or solve the mystery of “who dun it.” By two days ago I had gotten into an intense part of the book and was so engrossed in it that, in the evening, I took it outside and was reading it on my deck.

I suppose that I was really into the book because I didn’t notice the storm clouds forming until the torrential rain started coming down. Two things happened at once: I felt the rain and I heard Alex, who loathes all water, screeching to be let into the house. I ran for the door and Alex and I made it into the house. Unfortunately, the book didn’t: I left it on the table on the deck in the rain.

When I retrieved the paperback the next morning, it was soaked and soggy. It seemed unreadable, but I wanted to read it. So I pressed as much water out of it as I could and then—this is one of the more stupid things I have every done—put it in the microwave, thinking the heat would dry it.

The microwave didn’t dry it. What it did do was melt the glue that held the pages to the book’s spine; as soon as I lifted it from the microwave, the book fell apart in my hands. And, of course, the pages were still very wet.

I still wanted to finish re-reading the book and I didn’t want to buy another. I may read a good mystery twice, but seldom have I read one three times. So I came up with a way to read it. I tore off and discarded all of the pages I had already read. Then, as I read the front and back of each page, I discarded it, too. I suppose I could say that I altered the book The Case Has Altered.

I'm still reading it and I still don't know who the murderer is. But, hey! This is great! Now I do not need to have a book mark to keep my place! My place is always the first page of the book. And, when I read the last page, I will have discarded the entire book. Which is, of course, no way to treat a good book.

I hope I never have to read a soggy book again, which reminds me of a story about my #1 son and a book on parenting that I shall tell you sometime soon.

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