I Got Into A Fight Over A Book
I’m not the type of person who gets into fights, verbal or physical. The last fist fight I got into was 30 years ago. It wasn’t much of a fight. It started off as an insult contest, and just as it was about to escalate into a fist fight, I thought to myself, “Why am I getting into a fist fight over something this stupid?” By the time I figured out that I shouldn’t be getting into a fight, it had already started. It was over pretty quickly. The guy who wonders why he is getting into a fist fight always loses the fist fight.
Since arguments often escalate into fist fights, I tend to stay out of arguments too, especially at work. Even though fist fights are uncommon at work, people who get into stupid arguments still get fired. I might grumble at stuff that I don’t like at work, but my job is too important to me for me to argue, especially when people get fired for arguing. If anybody asks ask my opinion, I’ll give it, but I don’t argue.
This argument at work started when I saw a co-worker on break reading a James Patterson book. I won’t give the title because I don’t want to inadvertently promote a James Patterson book while I’m criticizing him. If it had been a boss reading a James Patterson book, I wouldn’t have said anything, but I was so outraged that this co-worker was reading a James Patterson book that I felt it was my duty to say something.
Looking back, I know I shouldn’t have said anything. I hate it when others comment on the books I read in public. That’s why the e-reader app on my phone is so great; nobody knows what I’m reading. People could think I’m watching porn, and I wouldn’t care. I’d rather strangers think I’m watching porn than talk to them about what book I’m reading.
“I can’t believe you’re falling for the James Patterson scam,” I said loudly to my co-worker.
“What are you talking about?” my co-worker said. He was annoyed that I had interrupted him. I normally wouldn’t do anything this rude, but James Patterson is too important to let slip by.
“James Patterson doesn’t write his own books,” I said.
“Look at the cover,” I said. “He has a co-author in fine print.”
My co-worker glanced at the cover. “The co-author got more than fine print.”
“James Patterson has already published 12 books this year. Nobody can write that many books in one year. His co-authors are doing all the work, and James Patterson gets all the credit and publicity.”
“Do the co-authors get paid?” the co-worker asked.
“Probably,” I said.
“Then why do you care?”
“Because it’s a scam,” I said. “You’re falling prey to a literary scam.”
“Did I use your money to purchase my book?” the co-worker said.
“Then, again, why do you care?”
“Because I don’t like to see bad behavior get rewarded,” I said with great conviction.
“Then I shall no longer discuss this with you,” my co-worker said. “You interrupted me, and I don’t want to reward your bad behavior.”
Okay, my co-worker scored a few points on that one, but I still knew that I was right. I hate it when I lose an argument even though I’m right. That’s another reason I don’t argue very often.
I was tempted to continue the argument, but he gave me a cold look. If I said anything, he might have been angry enough to fist fight me, not because he liked James Patterson, but because I wouldn’t let him read quietly in public. I’m too old to get into fist fights anymore, even if it’s about James Patterson, and we were at work anyway. I can’t get into fights every time I see somebody reading a James Patterson book. Even D’Artagnan would say that was foolish.
I blame James Patterson for this argument. I know it’s not because I’m getting old. I don’t care if kids run on my lawn, but now I yell at people for reading James Patterson books. The thing is, I despise lit-shaming. I believe reading is great and that everybody should read whatever they want, whether it’s sports magazines or comic books with 20-page fight scenes. I don’t care if an adult is reading YA lit or if a guy is reading a Harlequin romance. I might wonder about a middle-aged guy reading Lolita, but I wouldn’t say anything about it.
Yet if I see somebody reading a James Patterson book, I feel like I have to say something. I know it’s wrong. I know saying something to a person reading a James Patterson book is worse than reading a James Patterson book. From now on, I’ll resist the urge to say anything. It’s for my own good. Now that I’m too old to get into fist fights, I’m too old to get into stupid arguments. At least, I’m too old to get into fist fights over books.
What do you think? Is it wrong to lit-shame somebody for reading James Patterson? What books/authors would cause you to start an argument? When was the last time you got into a fist fight?
If you see anybody reading Nice Things, don’t start a conversation. Just let him or her read in peace and quiet.