You: A Novel by Caroline KepnesYou: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes

You: A Novel

byCaroline Kepnes

Paperback | August 28, 2018

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“Hypnotic and scary.” —Stephen King

“I am RIVETED, AGHAST, AROUSED, you name it. The rare instance when prose and plot are equally delicious.” —Lena Dunham

From debut author Caroline Kepnes comes You, one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of the Year, and a brilliant and terrifying novel for the social media age.

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.
Caroline Kepnes is the author of You, Hidden Bodies and Providence. She began her career as a pop culture jpurnalist for Entertainment Weekly and a TV writer on 7th Heaven, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and the upcoming adaptation of You. She was born and raised in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Title:You: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 8.25 × 5.31 × 1.3 inPublished:August 28, 2018Publisher:Atria/Emily Bestler BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1501195433

ISBN - 13:9781501195433


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Must read for the creep seeker A very intriguing read. You get sucked into this mind that truly believes he is doing his duty to protect those he loves. The manipulation is on point and truly exploits the dangers of technology today. The end was a bit lackluster compared to the rest of the book but definitely worth the read if you want to be looking over your shoulder for the next few weeks!
Date published: 2019-01-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Passes Time But No Wow Factor The book was very easy to read, and definitely a page turner and hard to put down. But the ending the book was loose and didn't wow me as a great ending. The beginning was a nice hook and grab but then the book went down hill from there.
Date published: 2019-01-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love this book I haven't seen the show and I'm not sure I want to now that I have these characters built in my mind. It is scary to think how easy it is to stalk someone in this technological world we live in now. The author did a great job creating a character that can give you chills. I'm excited to read the next book!
Date published: 2019-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from one of my favourite thrillers I read this book and the sequel a couple years ago and I loved it so much! I almost forgot about it until i saw the trailer for the series on Netflix. It was good, but it didn't beat the book. I'm rereading You right now and it's bringing back the memories! Joe is the anti-hero that you know you shouldn't love because he's pretty crazy but you can't help it. He has a way with words and, when he's not stalking or getting ride of the "obstacles" he's a very chivalrous and funny character. He is very intriguing and just wow.
Date published: 2018-12-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from CHILLING The number reason why I liked this book is because it breaks all the rules and allows the villain to win. The author did a great job by creating a main character so devious that you really can't love him. The story was like any other story about a stalker but what makes this book different is the psyche of the main character (Joe). He is just so well written it. It was a great read!
Date published: 2018-11-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not as good as I was told i was recommended this book by a few friends. Didn't like it as much as they did. Thought it had a lot of useless information and the ending didn't really wow me. It had some interesting parts but over all I was not a fan.
Date published: 2018-11-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not as good as I expected I thought that this book was just ok despite the many positive reviews it has received. I pushed myself to finish it but I found that it dragged on longer than necessary and was repetitive. I will not be reading the sequel, Hidden Bodies, because I imagine it to be more of the same. The ending was also predictable.
Date published: 2018-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW I didn't expect to like this book. I only picked it up to be honest because it was 2 for 15 in store and I had read all the other's on the shelf. It's pretty dark, but super fun too. I am very big on social media and now might have to change up some settings or two.
Date published: 2018-08-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Creepy Very creepy and very entertaining. Definitely recommend
Date published: 2018-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Creepy and awesome! This was creepy, fun and I loved it. Joe is so dark and obsessive that it really takes you into a whole new perspective. Very fun read if you are into some dark stuff. Joe's rationalization of his behavior was very interesting. It's also a nice reminder to not live your life on social media. Very good! #plumreview
Date published: 2018-05-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a good read Very creepy book and true facts about releasing information
Date published: 2018-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very creepy Loved it..but ashamed that I love Something so creepy
Date published: 2018-02-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not for everyone!! This book is definitely not for everyone. I actually found this book to be very boring and I struggled not to DNF it, the only reason I continued to read it is because it received so many high reviews. I hated all of the characters and found them to be really annoying.
Date published: 2018-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Super Creepy The second person narrative immediately immerses you into the story holding you until the end. While I found the book to be fast paced, it did lag around the middle, mostly because of the predictive nature of the story. The best part of this book really is the second person narration, it's unsettling and exciting all at once.
Date published: 2017-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Great book. Book is great and excellent. Keeps you on your toes. Somewhat predictable but still great read.
Date published: 2017-12-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Creepy & Predictable This book hooked me within the first two pages. The author does a great job of trying to get you to understand the main character, however, the ending was VERY predictable. I also don't see why there was a need to write a sequel. The story seems done to me. Still, it was a good read and I did enjoy it!
Date published: 2017-12-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Did Not Finish Honestly, this was one of the most disappointing books I've ever read, and that was after a few chapters. I understand from the reviews that a lot of people really like this book but that just wasn't the case for me. The second person narrative just felt so wrong and the writing style was disappointing. The writing has way too many name brand or celebrity references.
Date published: 2017-11-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Creepy Twist on Crime I came across this book on a list of creepy reads, and I was immediately curious because of the concept behind it. And while it wasn't really what I expected, it is definitely one of those books that stick with you, and stays in your thoughts for days after.  I think that the most brilliant thing about this book is unsettlingly calm and normalized the telling of the story was. The way that the narrator goes on like everything he is doing is completely reasonable and makes perfect sense, when it's actually super twisted and messed up, is unsettling and uncomfortable when you start really thinking about it. The author did a brilliant job of telling the story, and I honestly don't think it would have worked if they had picked another method of telling it.  The characters in this are very well done, and the pacing is fantastic throughout the entire story. I did find that there were lot of literature references that I knew nothing about and that was kind of annoying, especially when they went on for a while. But they didn't take too much away from the story. All in all, I did enjoy You, and it definitely was one of those stories that stick in your head for a few days after you've read it. If you like crime novels and are looking for something unique, if you are looking for a good creepy read, or if you like 2nd person perspective and you want more, you should definitely check you You!
Date published: 2017-10-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay A decent read. I feel it dragged on a bit in the middle but overall was a creepy book with a predictable ending.
Date published: 2017-09-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Deeply disturbing yet compelling I bought this book due to all the hype surrounding it and finally got around to reading and boy am I glad I did. I was hooked from the very first page!
Date published: 2017-09-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Creepy and Unnerving! I really enjoyed this book, the pace could be slightly slow at times but it did pick up. Joe is creepy and twisted. Kepnes did a wonderful job of creating his inner thoughts and they are so twisted it is amazing how she created such a psychotic character and his inner thoughts! It was an interesting read that can leave you feeling extremely creeped out.
Date published: 2017-09-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Ok It was an interesting concept but I'm just not in love with it.
Date published: 2017-08-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Just ok I found the pace slow, uneventful at times. Creepy, but predictable.
Date published: 2017-08-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very overhyped I really don't see why a lot of people felt sympathetic towards the main character, Joe. No, he is not the kind of guy you feel bad for. Story-wise many things were quite predictable especially if you watch crime shows, but yes this book was very creepy.
Date published: 2017-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 5 stars The guy is a psychopath, but you can't help but kind of like him.
Date published: 2017-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I absolutely loved this. It was absolutely disturbing but at the same time you can't help but love it. Joe is an extremely interesting character that you just want to know more about. I was so excited for Hidden Bodies to come out and it was just as amazing.
Date published: 2017-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow I could not put this book down. It is eerie and engaging at the same time.
Date published: 2017-05-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Really 3.4 Stars I'm currently reading this book now and I've read a couple of reviews that did not have any spoilers, however I find it boring so far. The first 100 pages in, all I got from the book was that Joe (the guy who works at the bookstore) is in love with Beck who does not like Joe but has a boyfriend that does not treat her well. Joe becomes obsessed with her and starts stalking her and wants to become her boyfriend and will do anything to become her boyfriend. However, I do not see the thriller portion yet and I'm becoming quite disappointed with this book as there were so many good reviews about this book.
Date published: 2017-05-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from 3.3 stars I had some issues with the way this book was written. There were parts in the plot that were not relevant, for example. Other times, the actual prose was not great and sometimes, the plot descriptions seemed sloppy. These are all mostly minor issues. The book itself was a great read otherwise. I've been hearing how people will root for the bad guy at times and I've also heard people say that they felt like the narrator was speaking directly to them. I did not feel either of those things and maybe that is why I wasn't as impressed as some. Despite that, it still caught me by surprise, had me reading when I should have been doing other things, and really made me think.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very eerie! A very creepy and twisted book, however it was a good read. This book is written through the eyes of the bad guy and it gets you agreeing and sometimes laughing with him. The unique insight kept me hooked. I wouldn't recommend this to a friend because of HOW creepy it is. But, if you're into psychotic thrillers, this book is amazing!
Date published: 2017-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!! Great read, fantastic narrative, cant help but feel for the main character. So very worth the read!
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hate to Love this...but I do This book is creepy...and it makes you really think. At times it makes you root for the bad guy and then that makes you question what kind of person you really are...This is a great thriller.
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Addictive Is it wrong that I was kinda rooting for the bad dude? Ah, life has a way of dangling stuff in front of us, and for the most part, we control ourselves. I'm glad he didn' was very entertaining :)
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You: WOW! A very interesting, and gripping read. Could not put this down. It's quite a dark read as told in the voice of a stalker.
Date published: 2017-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It super creepy book but in the best way. I love when I get to root for the villain. This one being a highly disturbed, dangerous psycho who's funny as hell. I was on his side the whole disturbing time. My husband loved this book as much as I did. We couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic 4.5 That was amazing. And dark, and twisted, and so well done. I loved how screwed up the concept was, but I am seriously considering therapy after reading this. I thought all of the characters were insane and I was actually routing for Joe throughout. There is probably something wrong with me but I couldn't help it.
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a good way This book definitely raises some important how much of our lives is accessible on social media. The story keeps you engaged and wondering what will happen next. At times you'll root for Joe and other times you'll be appalled. However you feel, you'll definitely want to read to the end to find out what happens.
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Page Turner This book is one of my all time favorite books. Its creepy, weird, and absolutely addictive. You know you should hate Joe, but somehow you can't. Hes psychologically messed up and unstable, he's a stalker and he's a killer and somehow you end up loving him. Its so interesting reading from his perspective, instead of the victims. Can't recommend this one enough
Date published: 2017-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this!! This book was absolutely amazing!! I loved how creepy it was and it just kept me wanting to read more. I couldn't put the book down after I started. I liked it so much I bought the sequel as soon as I finished it.
Date published: 2017-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Good 4.5 That was amazing. And dark, and twisted, and so well done. I loved how screwed up the concept was, but I am seriously considering therapy after reading this. I thought all of the characters were insane and I was actually routing for Joe throughout. There is probably something wrong with me but I couldn't help it.
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Creepy yet good This was different but a good different. Creepy yet entertaining in a weird way.
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! Super creepy and interesting! Could not put it down till it was finished,
Date published: 2017-01-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesomely creepy! This book was so insanely creepy, and so incredibly different; I absolutely loved it!
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Thriller This book hooks you in from the first sentence, and does not disappoint thereafter. Definitely recommend this one.
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I don't read thrillers much but this one was amazing! I can't wait to check out the sequel #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Serial killing hipster Good book. I liked how the main character seemed so outwardly normal. It made it really believable that the other characters would be fooled by him.
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Crazy Good Thriller This book was pretty much everything I expected it to be, although it was very long. Just when I thought something else couldn't happen-it did. Looking forward to reading more of this authors work!
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A let down It started off really strong but then it wen't into a different direction that I didn't like. Also, I was slightly disturbed by how graphic it was, and I usually have no problem with that kind of stuff.
Date published: 2016-11-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Creepy OK, this book is on another level of psycho. who the hell thinks like that? Joe was someone you do not want to be involved with. Simple. His obsession, well I don't know if you can call it that. It went beyond obsession to be honest. Caroline Kepnes, you are something for this book, how it was written, it could have been written by a lunatic psycho person. You are good, it's a good read. Definitely reading the second book.
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Chilling and intriuging This is the only book by Caroline Kepnes I have read and I loved it! Written from the perspective of a psychotic stalker, this book might actually keep you up at night. I was addicted right up to the last page and had me thinking about it for days after.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from seductive read I really enjoyed this book. I liked how it's told from the killer's perspective and it was very gripping.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The most messed up and awesome book. tbh, it was so weird, but so thrilling. I was intrigued from the beginning to the very end, and I've already purchased the second book. The one thing that stood out the most about this book, was that it used second person, with "you" which was unique in a sense that the majority of novels are written in first or third person. Absolutely loved it .
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from kind of creepy and addicting at the same time i liked this book because it is from a different perspective. It is very creepy but kind of predictable .. liked the first one but that is enough.. was not interested in the sequel which is probably the same events that happen in this book
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not the addicting read I was hoping for... I was looking forward to a thriller that I couldn't stop reading - something like Gone Girl or the Girl on the Train. Unfortunately, I had to force myself to finish reading just to see how it ended. Put simply this book was boring. Even the parts that were supposed to be suspenseful or creepy just weren't. The only parts that were kind of disturbing was some of the language towards women the main character, Joe, used (to be honest it felt to me like the author was trying too hard to sound like a guy because it didn't seem to match with his over all views). I thought the stalker perspective is what would make this book so scary but you start to like him and have to snap yourself out of it a bit. I thought the concept of the book sounded pretty interesting but I was disappointed with the delivery.
Date published: 2016-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Addicting! I have so many thoughts right now.. How am I going to break it down and even write about it? "You" gripped me.. To the point where I wasn't even bored when not a lot was happening, plot-wise. Told in second point of view, it wasn't too hard to get adjust to this style of writing because you get used to it. Here you are reading along and you get it, but you're also horrified as his thoughts turn on a dime. How he constantly casts blame on others and never himself. How you can see his thought process when she does so many wrong things and toys with him like a cat plays with a mouse. How obsessive and compelling he can be to be this "perfect" boyfriend when we know he's not. Beck is also one damaged character. You understand why Joe wants to fix her but he's obviously doing it in a way that crosses moral lines. I found her to be thoroughly unlikable but at the same time I pitied her. She uses her sexuality to the nth degree to get everything handed to her. And why so many people want her in this book is beyond my capability to understand. She's not the sharpest cookie either considering she has no passwords or even security for her house and electronics. Did I mention that Ethan was the only sane and likeable character I liked? Benji, Peach and even Nick were as damaged as Beck herself. Deeply flawed characters are the most interesting to read and I kid you not, this book has its fair share. How did Caroline Kepnes fully understand how to get into a male stalker's brain? Because I kid you not it was like reading his thoughts, it was like he was real. I was disturbed most of the time but like everyone else I couldn't put it down. The writing just works for this story and it's written with so many run-on sentences that it ends up being creative and memorable. I'm guessing she had to do a ton of research on how obsessed stalkers think and she did it well. The only thing I had to say about the plot was that it was fairly predictable. You could see it happening and I wanted more of a twist instead. Highly addicting and deeply disturbing, obsessive love at its finest..the story of Joe Goldberg will keep you reading well into the night. Now I have get my hands on the sequel!
Date published: 2016-04-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Review from This is the Story of My(Reading) Life Well something I quickly discovered about myself well reading, You is that I don't have anywhere near enough patience to become a proper stalker. So you're welcome world. Another thing I found out is that a lot of readers are just as confused as I am for finding someone as messed up as Joe as utterly compelling and charming. Joe is the driving force behind this novel. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to like him well feeling disgusted with yourself for liking a murderer with a pretty serious stalking problem. Joe knows how to be who he needs to be to get what he wants. His witty thoughts are exactly what most of us are thinking. Beyond that he's fucking hilarious, especially when he's doing those illegal things. Whatever, it's fiction and I'm allowed to like him. So Joe was great, but I cannot say that about everything else. Beck(the girl Joe is stalking) is a fake, pretentious screwed up moron. I loathe her. Every single email she sent(that Joe would read like a good stalker) to her friends, every single time she called Joe, anything that had her and Joe connected actually had me feeling bad for the guy because she was using him; playing him. And what! He's stalking her, it should be the other way around. Nope, I actually felt that Beck was a worse person than Joe. And really Joe could have picked someone so much better to stalk and love. The pacing was my biggest issue. A third of the pages could have been cut out. It was way to long. So of course that makes the book drag. And I lose interest and patience; which comes back to not having the patience Joe shows through many a pages. The second person narrative was different. But I never had that unsettling or creeped out feeling that it should have given me, and that was just a let down as that's the whole idea behind You being in second person; feeling like Joe is in your face. I can see the hype behind You. I get it. Joe makes you route for an ultimately bad person. But he just wasn't enough to make me need to tear through the book.
Date published: 2016-02-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from You! Bought it because recomended by a friend. She stopped reading the book almost immediately. I read it till the end but found it kind of tacky but maybe perverts talk and think like the one in the book.
Date published: 2015-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down... Loved this book...didn't want it to end...clever creepy and entirely entertaining...Caroline Kepnes has a great style of writing that draws you in and keeps you coming back.
Date published: 2015-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You. In this sick minded stalker novel, the author brings you to another world, always keeping you on the edge of your seat. Sexy, firing, spectacular and dramatic read.
Date published: 2015-09-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Book Recently I read this book and it was great from beginning to end. It did start off slow, but once the ball was rolling, I was definitely intrigued and wanted to read more. I couldn't get enough of this book. I do have to say that with Stephen King's review, I thought it would be a lot more creepier and scarier than it actually was. Don't get me wrong, it did give me chills, reading from the "stalker's" point of view, but it wasn't enough to give me nightmares. All in all, I am excited to see more of the author's books.
Date published: 2015-08-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from YOU by Caroline Kepnes This novel is highly readable and pulls you in quickly. I found the author's ability to get into the mind of a psychopath fascinating. Kepnes skillfully navigates the clever yet absurd rationalizations of a twisted soul in love.
Date published: 2015-06-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from You. You was a new enjoyable read. Written in a great perspective. Leaves you wanting to know more. Recommend
Date published: 2015-02-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Curse-laden I wanted to read this book because it was referred to me, by Kobo, as being similar to "Us". It was a thriller, but,unexpectedly profane and graphically sexual. NOT my type of book.
Date published: 2015-02-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Twisted story I really liked this book. Joe is so messed up and just plain evil. He stalks Beck and then eventually they get together, but things don't go smoothly, at least not the way that Joe wants them to. The author does a great job of making us feel sorry for Joe at times, but then he does something so heinous that he becomes loathsome again. This book is a roller coaster of emotions, for sure. The best part of the book, for me, were the references to books. Joe works in a book store and all kinds of novels play a big part in the story. Am I the only one who would want to visit the basement and see all of the rare books? Without the cage, of course.
Date published: 2014-12-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from You by Caroline Kepnes Wow. Very suspenseful. Thought provoking. I could not put it down. Do people actually exist like this?
Date published: 2014-12-21

Read from the Book

You 1 YOU walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn’t slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige and it’s impossible to know if you’re wearing a bra but I don’t think that you are. You’re so clean that you’re dirty and you murmur your first word to me—hello—when most people would just pass by, but not you, in your loose pink jeans, a pink spun from Charlotte’s Web and where did you come from? You are classic and compact, my own little Natalie Portman circa the end of the movie Closer, when she’s fresh-faced and done with the bad British guys and going home to America. You’ve come home to me, delivered at last, on a Tuesday, 10:06 A.M. Every day I commute to this shop on the Lower East Side from my place in Bed-Stuy. Every day I close up without finding anyone like you. Look at you, born into my world today. I’m shaking and I’d pop an Ativan but they’re downstairs and I don’t want to pop an Ativan. I don’t want to come down. I want to be here, fully, watching you bite your unpainted nails and turn your head to the left, no, bite that pinky, widen those eyes, to the right, no, reject biographies, self-help (thank God), and slow down when you make it to fiction. Yes. I let you disappear into the stacks—Fiction F–K—and you’re not the standard insecure nymph hunting for Faulkner you’ll never finish, never start; Faulkner that will harden and calcify, if books could calcify, on your nightstand; Faulkner meant only to convince one-night stands that you mean it when you swear you never do this kind of thing. No, you’re not like those girls. You don’t stage Faulkner and your jeans hang loose and you’re too sun-kissed for Stephen King and too untrendy for Heidi Julavits and who, who will you buy? You sneeze, loudly, and I imagine how loud you are when you climax. “God bless you!” I call out. You giggle and holler back, you horny girl, “You too, buddy.” Buddy. You’re flirting and if I was the kind of asshole who Instagrams, I would photograph the F–K placard and filter the shit out of that baby and caption it: F—K yes, I found her. Calm down, Joe. They don’t like it when a guy comes on too strong, I remind myself. Thank God for a customer and it’s hard to scan his predictable Salinger—then again, it’s always hard to do that. This guy is, what, thirty-six and he’s only now reading Franny and Zooey? And let’s get real. He’s not reading it. It’s just a front for the Dan Browns in the bottom of his basket. Work in a bookstore and learn that most people in this world feel guilty about being who they are. I bag the Dan Brown first like it’s kiddie porn and tell him Franny and Zooey is the shit and he nods and you’re still in F–K because I can see your beige sweater through the stacks, barely. If you reach any higher, I’ll see your belly. But you won’t. You grab a book and sit down in the aisle and maybe you’ll stay here all night. Maybe it’ll be like the Natalie Portman movie Where the Heart Is, adapted faithlessly from the Billie Letts book—above par for that kind of crud—and I’ll find you in the middle of the night. Only you won’t be pregnant and I won’t be the meek man in the movie. I’ll lean over and say, “Excuse me, miss, but we’re closed” and you’ll look up and smile. “Well, I’m not closed.” A breath. “I’m wide open. Buddy.” “Hey.” Salinger-Brown bites. He’s still here? He’s still here. “Can I get a receipt?” “Sorry about that.” He grabs it out of my hand. He doesn’t hate me. He hates himself. If people could handle their self-loathing, customer service would be smoother. “You know what, kid? You need to get over yourself. You work in a bookstore. You don’t make the books. You don’t write the books and if you were any good at reading the books, you probably wouldn’t work in a bookstore. So wipe that judgmental look off your face and tell me to have a nice day.” This man could say anything in the world to me and he’d still be the one shame-buying Dan Brown. You appear now with your intimate Portman smile, having heard the motherfucker. I look at you. You look at him and he’s still looking at me, waiting. “Have a nice day, sir,” I say and he knows I don’t mean it, hates that he craves platitudes from a stranger. When he’s gone, I call out again because you’re listening, “You enjoy that Dan Brown, motherfucker!” You walk over, laughing, and thank God it’s morning, and we’re dead in the morning and nobody is gonna get in our way. You put your basket of books down on the counter and you sass, “You gonna judge me too?” “What an asshole, right?” “Eh, probably just in a mood.” You’re a sweetheart. You see the best in people. You complement me. “Well,” I say and I should shut up and I want to shut up but you make me want to talk. “That guy is the reason that Blockbuster shouldn’t have gone under.” You look at me. You’re curious and I want to know about you but I can’t ask so I just keep talking. “Everybody is always striving to be better, lose five pounds, read five books, go to a museum, buy a classical record and listen to it and like it. What they really want to do is eat doughnuts, read magazines, buy pop albums. And books? Fuck books. Get a Kindle. You know why Kindles are so successful?” You laugh and you shake your head and you’re listening to me at the point when most people drift, go into their phone. And you’re pretty and you ask, “Why?” “I’ll tell you why. The Internet put porn in your home—” I just said porn, what a dummy, but you’re still listening, what a doll. “And you didn’t have to go out and get it. You didn’t have to make eye contact with the guy at the store who now knows you like watching girls get spanked. Eye contact is what keeps us civilized.” Your eyes are almonds and I go on. “Revealed.” You don’t wear a wedding ring and I go on. “Human.” You are patient and I need to shut up but I can’t. “And the Kindle, the Kindle takes all the integrity out of reading, which is exactly what the Internet did to porn. The checks and balances are gone. You can read your Dan Brown in public and in private all at once. It’s the end of civilization. But—” “There’s always a but,” you say and I bet you come from a big family of healthy, loving people who hug a lot and sing songs around a campfire. “But with no places to buy movies or albums, it’s come down to books. There are no more video stores so there are no more nerds who work in video stores and quote Tarantino and fight about Dario Argento and hate on people who rent Meg Ryan movies. That act, the interaction between seller and buyer, is the most important two-way street we got. And you can’t just eradicate two-way streets like that and not expect a fallout, you know?” I don’t know if you know but you don’t tell me to stop talking the way people sometimes do and you nod. “Hmm.” “See, the record store was the great equalizer. It gave the nerds power—‘You’re really buying Taylor Swift?’—even though all those nerds went home and jerked it to Taylor Swift.” Stop saying Taylor Swift. Are you laughing at me or with me? “Anyway,” I say, and I’ll stop if you tell me to. “Anyway,” you say, and you want me to finish. “The point is, buying stuff is one of the only honest things we do. That guy didn’t come in here for Dan Brown or Salinger. That guy came in here to confess.” “Are you a priest?” “No. I’m a church.” “Amen.” You look at your basket and I sound like a deranged loner and I look in your basket. Your phone. You don’t see it, but I do. It’s cracked. It’s in a yellow case. This means that you only take care of yourself when you’re beyond redemption. I bet you take zinc the third day of a cold. I pick up your phone and try to make a joke. “You steal this off that guy?” You take your phone and you redden. “Me and this phone . . .” you say. “I’m a bad mommy.” Mommy. You’re dirty, you are. “Nah.” You smile and you’re definitely not wearing a bra. You take the books out of the basket and put the basket on the floor and look at me like it wouldn’t be remotely possible for me to criticize anything you ever did. Your nipples pop. You don’t cover them. You notice the Twizzlers I keep by the register. You point, hungry. “Can I?” “Yes,” I say, and I am feeding you already. I pick up your first book, Impossible Vacation by Spalding Gray. “Interesting,” I say. “Most people get his monologues. This is a great book, but it’s not a book that people go around buying, particularly young women who don’t appear to be contemplating suicide, given the fate of the author.” “Well, sometimes you just want to go where it’s dark, you know?” “Yeah,” I say. “Yeah.” If we were teenagers, I could kiss you. But I’m on a platform behind a counter wearing a name tag and we’re too old to be young. Night moves don’t work in the morning, and the light pours in through the windows. Aren’t bookstores supposed to be dark? Note to self: Tell Mr. Mooney to get blinds. Curtains. Anything. I pick up your second book, Desperate Characters by one of my favorite authors, Paula Fox. This is a good sign, but you could be buying it because you read on some stupid blog that she’s Courtney Love’s biological grandmother. I can’t be sure that you’re buying Paula Fox because you came to her the right way, from a Jonathan Franzen essay. You reach into your wallet. “She’s the best, right? Kills me that she’s not more famous, even with Franzen gushing about her, you know?” Thank God. I smile. “The Western Coast.” You look away. “I haven’t gone there yet.” I look at you and you put your hands up, surrender. “Don’t shoot.” You giggle and I wish your nipples were still hard. “I’m gonna read The Western Coast someday and Desperate Characters I’ve read a zillion times. This one’s for a friend.” “Uh-huh,” I say and the red lights flash danger. For a friend. “It’s probably a waste of time. He won’t even read it. But at least she sells a book, right?” “True.” Maybe he’s your brother or your dad or a gay neighbor, but I know he’s a friend and I stab at the calculator. “It’s thirty-one fifty-one.” “Holy money. See, that’s why Kindles rule,” you say as you reach into your Zuckerman’s pig-pink wallet and hand me your credit card even though you have enough cash in there to cover it. You want me to know your name and I’m no nut job and I swipe your card and the quiet between us is getting louder and why didn’t I put on music today and I can’t think of anything to say. “Here we go.” And I offer you the receipt. “Thanks,” you murmur. “This is a great shop.” You’re signing and you are Guinevere Beck. Your name is a poem and your parents are assholes, probably, like most parents. Guinevere. Come on. “Thank you, Guinevere.” “I really just go by Beck. Guinevere’s kinda long and ridiculous, you know?” “Well, Beck, you look different in person. Also, Midnite Vultures is awesome.” You take your bag of books and you don’t break eye contact because you want me to see you seeing me. “Right on, Goldberg.” “Nah, I just go by Joe. Goldberg is kind of long and ridiculous, ya know?” We’re laughing and you wanted to know my name as much as I wanted to know yours or you wouldn’t have read my name tag. “Sure you don’t wanna grab The Western Coast while you’re here?” “This will sound crazy, but I’m saving it. For my nursing home list.” “You mean bucket list.” “Oh no, that’s totally different. A nursing home list is a list of things you plan on reading and watching in a nursing home. A bucket list is more like . . . visit Nigeria, jump out of an airplane. A nursing home list is like, read The Western Coast and watch Pulp Fiction and listen to the latest Daft Punk album.” “I can’t picture you in a nursing home.” You blush. You are Charlotte’s Web and I could love you. “Aren’t you gonna tell me to have a nice day?” “Have a nice day, Beck.” You smile. “Thanks, Joe.” You didn’t walk in here for books, Beck. You didn’t have to say my name. You didn’t have to smile or listen or take me in. But you did. Your signature is on the receipt. This wasn’t a cash transaction and it wasn’t a coded debit. This was real. I press my thumb into the wet ink on your receipt and the ink of Guinevere Beck stains my skin.

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