June 1, 2010

"Must be a good book"

I'm just not fond of that phrase.  Talk about a non-sequitur.

This past school year I had afternoon bus dismissal duty.  I had to stand at the intersection of school hallways and make sure there was some semblance of order as the kids rushed to get to their bus.

Since our elementary school has over 1400 students and since the land is cheaper for building schools out in the middle of nowhere, we're talking more than 30 busses.  So there would be waves of chattering kids punctuated by long lulls during which the next phalanx of busses motored into position.

So I usually brought a book for theses down times.  Nearly every adult who happened by at one of these times would invariably say, "Must be a good book."

What does that even mean?

How the heck do I know if it's good if I just started reading it?  How do they know it's good no matter where I am in it?  But saying it must be good just because I'm standing there reading it seems ridiculous.

I admit: most of the books I read are good because I only pick books to read that I've heard good things about and am reasonably sure I'll like.  But every so often I'm wrong.  Not often, but it happens.  And sometimes I have to read something for my book club I wouldn't have otherwise chosen and don't necessarily like but feel compelled to read for the conversation we'll have.  Sometimes I read kids books out of some obligation or other that I don't always enjoy.

I mean, just because someone is reading, why does it necessarily follow it's a good book?  I could be reading pap like this or like this for all they know.

These people might have a point if I was reacting to the book in some dramatic way as they walked by.  Gasping or laughing or weeping openly.  It happens.  But not usually in the hallway between bus calls for crying out loud.

(image cc flikr)