Some Not So Light Reading

I was in the library the other night picking up a book that was being held for me. The clerk set it down with a noticeable thud. It was practically a textbook. One of the largest editions I’ve ever seen outside of a college classroom.

Me: What the…

Clerk (noticing my bulging eyes): Would you like to check this out for the extended 6-week period?

Me: umm, I don’t think this is the item I requested…

Clerk: That’ll be due back in mid-March. Enjoy!

(or something like that)

I was picking up The Diary of Anne Frank. No, I’m not in fifth grade. My sisters and mom and I started a book club a few years ago (“book club” being a very loose term). We’ve focused on the “classics” in the last few months, with varying results; a few of us actually read The Scarlet Letter, and a few of us kept renewing it from the library with no intention of ever opening it.

I suggested The Diary of Anne Frank for our next book. I never read it in school, and it seemed like a nice, easy read. So what was this monstrosity waiting for me at the library? I lugged it home and Googled the specific edition I had mistakenly put on hold: The diary of Anne Frank : the critical edition / prepared by the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation ; introduced by Harry Paape, Gerrold van der Stroom, and David Barnouw ; with a summary of the report by the Netherlands Forensic Institute ; compiled by H.J.J. Hardy ; edited by David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom ; translated by Arnold J. Pomerans, B.M. Mooyaart-Doubleday and Susan Massotty. Yes, that’s the formal title. No, I didn’t realize a children’s book would include a forensic report and require a U-Haul to get home (slight exaggeration). If I had clicked on the “description” when putting it on hold, I would have seen the page count. Are you ready for this? 851 pages (see, I wasn’t exaggerating that much).

I just put The Diary of Anne Frank on hold, without all the bells and whistles of the other one, and it’s 182 pages - that even includes an introduction (oddly enough, not written by one of the 20 9 people who helped out with the textbook edition). My next trip to the library should be a little less frightening (and much less stressful on my back).

I don't shy away from lengthy books. I just like to know what I'm getting myself into. Getting my sisters and mom to agree on a book is hard enough; I'm not adding any heavy lifting.


Yeewuz said…
The library needs a better interface for their online database. I don't know how many times I've gone to request a book and at the last minute realized that it's the Large Type copy. First, why are there so many of those? Do that many library patrons have seeing problems? And second, just make it more obvious so I can bypass it right away in search of what I actually want.
JackieW said…
I LOVE The Diary of Anne Frank! It's one of my favorite books. :) The Critical Edition is enormous, and I haven't been brave enough to read it. The original, condensed version definitely still carries the spirit of the diary. The debate about different versions centers around only a few missing entries that don't add anything to the overall story. I hope you enjoy it when you get the right copy!
Michele said…
Love this post (especially as a former librarian)