Warning: Not Suitable for Book Nerds (This does not include e-books.)

A couple of days ago, an unsuspecting, naive, version of myself was sitting at a table reading Burney’s Cecilia while eating lunch. You know how it is. You’re a bit tired and feeling a bit anti-social because it takes way too much energy to converse with people day in and day out, so you decide to read during your lunch break. It’s almost as good of a conversation deterrent as headphones. The best is a book PLUS headphones, but alas, I hadn’t brought mine with me. So there I was with a fork poised between the fingers of my right hand and my left hand holding this 1,000-page book open. A book that size is asking for someone to comment on it. I know what you’re thinking. You think you’re so smart and know where this story is going. You think someone talked to me about it.


My hands were in place, my hair tucked behind my ears so as not to cascade onto the page and obscure those wonderful words. I skillfully stuck my fork into my tomatoes, pulling out one small slice. Bringing the fork to my mouth, I gently extracted the tomato from the prongs. As any genteel lady would, I slid the fork between my lips. Never use your teeth, ladies. I took my time because at that moment Cecilia was making a new acquaintance, but who is she? Why am I being introduced to her in such a mysterious way??! I was absorbed, executing the motions with precision. I’d done this several times before. Nothing could go wrong, could it?


As I approached the middle of the right page, I moved my left hand only to find my worst nightmare–salt and allspice mingling with tomato juice. ON THE PAGE! I shoved that fork in my mouth to reach for my napkin. It happened so fast you’d have thought it was an Olympic sport. I dabbed at the page practically swearing under my breath.

And here I am two days later asking myself, “Why couldn’t it have been a YA novel? Anything but a Burney novel.” The only good thing I can take away from this is that it wasn’t one of my own novels. Then again, it would add character, a real life behind who wrote it. Never mind. There’s nothing good that came from this. All that’s left is a stained and wrinkled part of a once pristine page.

See for yourself.

Cecilia stain



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