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Book 14 of 80

February 18, 2010

Dear The Pianist:

It pains me to write you this letter. It pains me even more to be the one to tell you: I think we need to part. It’s not you. It’s me.

When I first read about you and planned on reading you for my challenge, I was a different person. Your enticing blurb on the back excited me; your premise intrigued me. I searched for you all over Powell’s and felt giddy when I pulled you from the shelf. You were all I wanted for Poland — that was true! And I don’t want you to ever forget the first time I rubbed my fingers across your embossed title or thumbed through your smooth pages. Sometimes I would just go and pick you up and tenderly crack open your spine; then I’d suck in your words – hear the way you sounded in my head. You are beautiful; this isn’t because you aren’t desirable.

But you see, before you, there was another book. And that book really wrecked me — it was a non-fiction book, like you, and also dealt with war, like you. That book was good to me; please don’t assume otherwise. But it took a lot of energy to read and I shed a lot of tears at the heartache on its pages. I know you’re a memoir and so you’re different, but I feel drained by what this book did to me. And I don’t know how much more heartache and human pain I can take. You remind me too much of that book. I lost my original excitement for you; I could read you anyway, lazily travel through each page, but that wouldn’t be fair to you — you deserve a better reader. You deserve someone who will fully commit. I just can’t do it.

I wish I could tell you there wasn’t another book. I wish I could say that I’m in limbo, taking my time to figure things out. But I can’t. I went behind your back. I saw another book for Poland — it’s fiction. A murder mystery. I know you’ll be offended that I found it at the library: a common book who has been loved by God knows how many others. But something about this book felt right. It’s called In the Memory of the Forest.

I know what you’ll say. “But Shelbi, this book also deals with post-war Poland and the aftermath of communism! It’s just disguised as a murder mystery. You won’t be happy with this either — it’s still too much of the same. Give me a chance.” Yes, you’re right — I couldn’t leave the communism and post-war part alone. But I spent most of last night with this Poland and I, admit with reluctance to you, think I made the right decision.

Please don’t consider this good-bye forever. Maybe someday I can give you a chance and you’ll be the book that gets to cuddle with me on my blue sheets at night – right next to my head – your cover touching the edges of my blonde hair. Until then, I’m sorry we aren’t going to finish what we started. I’m sorry that you live on my bookshelf and that every day I have to walk by you as a painful reminder. Again, you have done nothing wrong — I take full ownership of this change of heart.

Please forgive me. With admiration,

Shelbi Sherman

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