is a quote from the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail. Is that true? Joe Fox (corporate big box bookseller) says that to Kathleen Kelly (independent bookstore owner) as they banter in this RomCom that is now historical fiction. [It describes the incipient impact of the internet.] The film was an adaptation of an earlier film (1940) The Shop Around the Corner. It is the “enemies-to-lovers” trope. (Which happens to be my favorite.) The book Kelly is reading is Pride and Prejudice (1813). It’s an old story.
Let’s get into it.
Can you tell a book by its cover?
Is the plot of Jane Austen’s classic novel. Moreover, a person by their cover? What they look like? How they present themselves? By extension, can you tell who a person is by the books they read?
Recently I watched one of my favorite Book Tubers: (The Book Leo) talk about what it is to be “a reader”. Moreover, that young people today have assumed “reader” as an identity. Part of that identity is what books they read and display on their bookshelves. These bookshelves are either real, or located in online book communities. Such as Goodreads or Booktok.
Sadly, what seems to be happening is a lot of Readers are reading the same books. And they are not the classics, or other books of high quality. Instead they are new genres. Such as Monster smut, Cozy fantasy, Magna, Paranormal romance, Magical realism, Urban fantasy, and so on. Books with colorful and provocative covers. The bookshelf even has a name: Rainbow. The Reader’s room, too, has an aesthetic, or look. It must have lighting of a particular style, candles, plants, postcards and posters on the wall, sometimes a world map, and of course cats. In addition the Reader drinks tea and coffee. Rarely alcohol. Alright.
But sometimes these ‘Readers’ don’t have real books or bookshelves. Everything is virtual [Internet based.] They buy or rent ‘books’ via their phone, tablet, or computer.
Below is one of my virtual bookshelves (Favorites) on the Goodreads website. In some ways, I resemble the ‘Reader’.
The difference between myself and the ‘Reader’ is – all these books are real. They are on real bookshelves in my apartment, or my garage.
I AM Here
in real life. And so are my books. Furthermore, yes, I am who I am partly, not wholly, because of what I’ve read. What you read matters.
seems to be the theme, or big idea, of the Readers’ books’. Judging by the genres and the named bookshelves. I can’t be certain because I’ve not read any of them.
I get escape. I use whiskey and move a lot. Indeed, I’ve been named “Drinking Writer Man”. However, I’m more than that. I, too, am a reader. In addition, a thinker. So I might be a reader, writer, thinker, drinker. Now.
But I’m old (seventy-three) and retired. I’ve been many different ‘things‘ in my life. People are often defined but what they do. If all you do is read? Sure, reader fits. Taking ‘Reader’ as your identity works. Because that is what you do.
However, can you make a living reading? Today, seems like some are. Like The Book Leo. I like that idea – of people being able to make a living doing what they love. But, it can also be a pipe dream. An escape. Moreover an unrealistic fantasy. A fantasy wherein one lives in a dream world at the cost and expense of others.[Society in general.]
I’d say the answer is a qualified yes. You are what you read. Therefore, read well. Meaning make your reading matter.
Don’t read only for escape, but also to learn about the real world – the world we live in. It’s a chaotic, hostile, dangerous world. Yet full of beauty and awe, too.
Eat, drink, and be merry. But also be tough and strong; and kind and gentle.
Who are you?
Are you reading now? What books are on your Favorite bookshelf?
Do you agree?
What books, if any, have influenced who you are?