The Ten Commandments of a Righteous Readerly Life

Brenna Clarke Gray

Staff Writer

Part muppet and part college faculty member, Brenna Clarke Gray holds a PhD in Canadian Literature while simultaneously holding two cats named Chaucer and Swift. It's a juggling act. Raised in small-town Ontario, Brenna has since been transported by school to the Atlantic provinces and by work to the Vancouver area, where she now lives with her stylish cyclist/webgeek husband and the aforementioned cats. When not posing by day as a forserious academic, she can be found painting her nails and watching Degrassi (through the critical lens of awesomeness). She posts about graphic narratives at Graphixia, and occasionally she remembers to update her own blog, Not That Kind of Doctor. Blog: Not That Kind of Doctor Twitter: @brennacgray

And lo from the heavens did the God of Literature (who is not, however self-appointed, Jonathan of Franzen) come down from its heavenly cloud made of unreleased Atwood novels and an unpublished fourth book of the Millennium series, and it did tell unto a lowly blogger the Ten Commandments of a righteous readerly life.

10. Thou shalt not spoil.

It is not up to thee to tell unto the people how Snape doth dispatch with Dumbledore lo upon the termination of the Good Wizardly Books. Shutteth thy mouth until thy friends have had a chance to read, or thou art knave.

9. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Let he who is without literary sin cast the first stone. Thy secret passion for novels by Tom of Clancy’s ghostwriter should stop thy mouth from thy petulant snark. And admitteth it: thy problem with thy mother reading 50 SHADES OF GREY is primarily that she liketh the sexy bits. Groweth up.

8. It is not up to thee to save readerly humanity from itself.

Thy tastes are thine and thou art entitled to them, but thou needest not be evangelical to the point of being patronizing. Those souls thou deem unenlightened thinketh thou art kind of a douchebag.

7. Thou shalt not steal.

Long-term borrowing where thou eventually forgetest to returneth the book, however, is totally cool. (See also: let he who is without sin…)  God’s corollary: returneth thy library books on time and pay fines promptly, thou jerkass.

6. Thou shalt not covet thy neighour’s library (or thy neighbour’s wife’s library).

Take joy and not jealousy in the books of others. Maybe thy neighbour will lend thou some books and then thou canst pull a Commandment 7 on them.

5. Thou may write in thy books if thou wishest, but write not in the books thou borrowest from others.

Also, freaketh out not if someone engages with their books differently than thee. Some may write, some may dog-ear. Thou art not the God of Literature, art thou? Then pipeth down.

4. The medium is not the message.

Marshall of McLuhan art a fly dude, but in this case he was wrongeth. Thou art not a more righteous reader for holding slavishly to paper. Are commandments on stone tablets more legit than those read on thy iPad? Answer not that rhetorical question. Judge not the method of literary transmission; rejoice instead in the love of literature.

3. Thou canst totally have other Gods than me.

Thy passion for Celebrity Rehab maketh thou not a less righteous reader than those who profess to not own a television set. And there is a 64% chance thou art less irritating at parties.

2. The book and the movie art separate things, and thou would enjoyeth both more if thou could acceptest that.

Like, thou probably doth not need to writeth another blog post about how the book art better than the film. That deeply original thought may indeed have been voiced sometime previous.

1. Thou shalt not kill the joy of reading in others.

I shall cast out of those souls who strive to make readers into slavish interpretations of a singular identity. Book art life. Allowest joy.

So shall it be written. So shall it be read. So shall it be done.