Tim Minchin and Good Books

My friend Ellen loaned me her copy of “I Am, I Am, I Am,” by Maggie O’Farrell.

If you’re not a full-on book nerd, you maybe can’t appreciate fully what a motion of confidence that is in a relatively new friendship.

Our books are sentient, feeling beings, and we love them, and fuss over them, as we would our own children. Our hardcovers are often our golden children.

This is how cool Ellen is:

“If I drop the book off at the front desk at the TO will it get to you safely? I also did the librarian thing and wrapped the dust jacket in plastic so you can relax while reading it. If the crinkly sound doesn’t drive you nuts.”

– Ellen

She observed dust jacket etiquette without prompting.

Yes. Dust jacket etiquette is a thing that exists.

It’s highly variable, one’s dust jacket preference profile, and dust jacket preference falls along a spectrum and involves many independent variables, so it can change intrapersonally on a situational basis.

For me, if the dust jacket is anything other than that thin plastic film they had on all the hardcovers in the public school library, it comes off posthaste. I give zero shits. I have so many first edition hardcovers – an entire collection of Harry Potter one through seven first edition hardcover for example – that will be worth jack and/or shit someday even though the book itself is still in good shape because I can’t deal with dust jackets on just, like, a sensory and attentional level. They bum me out so much that they become a literal distraction. They’re like trying to wear a jacket that’s half a size too small. It’s the only example I can come up with.

But if they’re that plastic film and they’re taped down? Oh my god, you guys, that is one of my favorite tactile and auditory sensations of all time. I have full ASMR reactions to plastic film dust covers, on the level and sitting flush with my adoration of people cutting floral foam.


Ellen makes these awesome Squatches and Hellbenders. She sells them on Etsy. And one day, she said, someone bought a Hellbender for her daughter. The woman was from Ireland and gave a bunch of clues to who she was, but Ellen said she never quite put it together until much later.

O’Farrell was born in northern Ireland, but has lived in Scotland, and Wales but I don’t care about Wales, and that is how Ellen and I got on the subject of O’Farrell to begin with.

‘Twas in the commission of a spirited discussion on all of the ways in which Scotland is everything, and is life, and is where I, at least, want to die and be buried.

Anyhow, I felt bad the other day, because I’ve been making ridiculously slow progress on the book, so I wanted to let her know that I have it and that I appreciate it and that I just haven’t been speed reading it.

There are different schools of thought on the social etiquette of lent book expiration dates as well.

And, once again, Ellen proved that she is a full member of my tribe with her response.

“Absolutely no rush with the book. Only twisted people loan books with a return deadline less than three months away. ”

– Ellen

She even offered me some really good advice as I struggled with the positive, non-hostile attention I was receiving for the Hospice thing.

“OK, humor me as I play analyst. A.) Don’t deflect the positivity. Just hear it, let it wash over and around you and eventually it will wash through you, too. B.) Just because people say something nice to you doesn’t mean they want anything from you, like your soul or your money or your favorite stuff. C.) It’s enough to say “Thank you” to a compliment and leave it at that. Let people have that moment by not taking it away with a verbal negation of their compliment. D.) Saying all this because I’m an expert at negating and deflecting people’s compliments. E.) I’m happy to have ‘lit the fire.'”

– Ellen

Oh my heck you guys. Ellen is awesome.

So. I was thinking about good books and wound up going in search of that Tim Minchin song about good books.

And I’m thinking that Minchin Monday needs to come back as a feature on the blog. So I’ll be resurrecting the Aussie gadfly starting tomorrow, but we shall celebrate today with the video above.

Happy Sunday!


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