Book Swap Guilt

I don’t read chick lit. I’ll read just about anything: fiction, history, thrillers, sci-fi, the occasional biography, anything, except chick lit.

The first time I noticed this particular book in the book swap area I sniggered, then shuddered. I wondered “Who would bring that in?” Personally I’d have donated it to charity shop rather than publically confess a penchant for romantic tosh. But that’s just me. I’m an action-flick kinda gal.

I pass the book swap pile daily and frequently skim the spines for new titles. This book has been there for several weeks now. No one has touched it. Even the spine is un-creased. (Perhaps its previous owner didn’t read it after all).

Each time I passed it I would inwardly shake my head and think “Urgh! No-one is going to take that. They’d be too embarrassed for a start”. Even the picture on the cover makes me cringe. Then yesterday, inexplicably without any warning, a little voice in my head said “Oh go on then”.


Where did that come?!

I was mortified the idea had sprung from my own brain. I checked left and right to make sure no one had seen it reflected in my face. I walked away quickly and sat at my desk. Fingers on keys. Eyes on the screen. I told myself no. NO.

I have never, ever, wanted to read anything by this author, popular as she is. I have never, ever, wanted to read this particular book. I don’t want to read it. I don’t. I really honestly and truly don’t.

(Deep breath)

But I’m going to.

I didn’t decide that right away. On my journey home last night I found myself thinking: If I do take it I can’t let anyone see me take it: I’ll need something to hide it in. Perhaps I should wait until the office is empty… But what if people see me acting suspiciously? They might think I’m stealing! What if I’m subjected to a handbag search? How could I not look guilty?

! ! !

Where were these thoughts coming from?

Again I checked around me in case someone was monitoring my facial expressions.

I’d clearly lost my senses. What was wrong with me? Was I seriously considering taking and reading a book that makes me wince at the thought of it? I took a few deep breaths, considered it for a while then reasoned that I might as well.

It is right that I should feel embarrassed? It’s only a book for goodness sake! I don’t even know what the book is about. Do other people feel this shame about chick lit?

Is this normal?

I feel a need to conduct some experiments, to give me a reason, an excuse for reading it: Perhaps I should take it out in public areas, on a train or in a café, just to observe how other people react to it. Will they snigger? Will they judge me harshly on my dubious choice? Will they smile at me but ooze pity from their eyes? More to the point, could I bring myself to be seen with it in public?

As I sat in the canteen I wanted to air these questions: Share my dilemma and consider the responses. I couldn’t. Our book swap is anonymous. I don’t know who the donor is and I couldn’t risk making them feel uncomfortable if they overheard me. I’m grateful other people are willing to swap books. I really am. I certainly wouldn’t want to scare anyone off.

So instead I’m sitting here quietly, biding my time.

Tonight, when the office lights dim and most people have gone home, into my pre-prepared black plastic carrier-bag I’m going to slip a pristine copy of a Jilly Cooper.

All comments (and mocking) most welcome. 🙂

18 thoughts on “Book Swap Guilt

  1. Pingback: Guilty Pleasures | Manchester Meanders

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