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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The plus side of judging by a book cover

I'm sorry, I have to confess that sometimes, I am judging you by the cover of your book. In Library Mall, I am craning my neck and squinting my eyes while struggling to read that title through your fingers. I apologize for staring a bit too long, trying to recognize the cover art or the name of the author minutely printed in the right-hand corner of the page.  


Sometimes I'm looking for a suggestion, something that looks interesting and worth searching for during a study break in the stacks at Memorial. Sometimes I do want to know something about you if we're going to graze shoulders and make apologies for the rest of the semester in this lecture hall (does that make you think twice about what book you take before leaving the house?) 


Or maybe we're on the bus and you've got your hand on that cord to let the driver know you'll be getting off at the next stop. I'll never see you again but right now we're both infatuated with Don DeLillo.  


In the end, anonymity reigns king. The distance between us is cool, peaceful silence. But I've attached a rebel spindle of hope that loneliness will come and go in temporary, tolerable phases if I can get a glimpse of you reading poetry, or maybe a newspaper with that concerned look on your face.  


I do want to ask you to go around the corner to a dark cafAc that will certainly be there. We'll have cigarettes and coffee while we discuss politics and lines we've loved so desperately for years. We can do nothing but memorize them, go over their details until everything is cold and burnt out. 


Or maybe I'll just think of you as I walk home, and assume we'd pick Zadie Smith's brain, given the chance, with similar questions. I'll make up where you're from and insist that when you're feeling really good, you hum.  


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I know sometimes the book you've got is for class or a less-than-suitable pick by an aunt who doesn't know you that well. You've got to at least sound like you read it in discussion or in your thank you card.  


But when I de-stranger a stranger, I like to start with a book. I like to start with the pages you've dog-eared and the makeshift bookmarks you've used. When it comes to that kid I see in the library every Wednesday and as people begin to take up residence in the warm grass again, I'd rather start there than with a pair of Converse shoes or a Northface jacket. When I judge you by the cover of your book, I feel better, and I stop giving humanity such a hard time. In fact, I become reassured that my crush on humanity will never quite fade.

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