Hagridden at one year: the reading copy

While I was preparing to read from Hagridden on the novel’s first birthday this past August 19, my wife was thinking about my reading copy of Hagridden, worn and fringed with multicolored note tabs, and she suggested I share that copy of the novel with you.

Which I thought was a wonderful idea!

So here is my reading copy of Hagridden:


This is the second copy out of the first box of books I received from Columbus Press (the first copy sits on my bookshelf). I set it aside immediately as my reading copy, and I have used it at every reading I’ve given from the novel, starting with the release party in Boerne, Texas, on August 19, 2014.

That release party was the start of a multidate, multistate book tour for Hagridden, and to prepare, I spent the weeks beforehand reading from the text, finding the best selections to share with audiences. I was looking for passages that would introduce key characters and/or main conflicts; sometimes I wanted to reveal these things through narrative and description, other times I would choose a particularly action-heavy passage, and once in a while I would mark out a fun bit of dialogue to read.

Each passage I selected got a sticky flag to serve as a tab, and these tabs moved and increased in number on planes and long road trips as I continued to tweak my reading selections.


As I read, I timed myself, and I color-coded the tabs accordingly. That way, I would know at a glance how long each passage was so I could fit it to the reading schedule. For the release party, I had a full hour to myself, but I wanted to leave time for introducing the book and the passages as well as plenty of time for Q&A and cake (Hagridden‘s birthday is also my birthday). So I planned for a couple of 15-minute passages. At other readings, I was limited to 10 minutes or even five minutes, and so I flagged passages for those lengths.

Green tabs are around 10 minutes; yellow tabs are 15+ minutes; one red tab is 20+ minutes. A blue tab marks my shortest chapter, which I can read in three minutes, and a couple of pink tabs mark good stopping points in case I want to cut longer selections short.

More recently, I’ve also taken to adding Hagridden bookmarks into the pages to make flipping to a particular selection faster when I take the podium.

All this reading from the novel has made for a well-loved copy! Some of the pages have become accidentally dogeared from when I stuff the book hastily into a travel bag; the cover no longer lies flat; that cool crease on the cover that helps preserve the spine has bubbled where the protective plastic coating has come loose.

So this is what a year’s worth of reading will do to a book. And as with the Velveteen Rabbit, I sometimes feel that this worn, loved copy is somehow more real.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. [. . .] It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time.”

from The Velveteen Rabbit

And actually, my reading copy of Hagridden has held up remarkably well. The pages are still a pleasure to thumb through, the cover is still velvety in the palm, and the crisp ink of the text still catches the light in such interesting ways. Columbus Press did a beautiful job on this book!

And dear readers, I hope your copies are just as loved — I hope you have found cause to read Hagridden more than once, or that you have lent it to friends and then bought them copies because they loved it so much — and I hope your copy is holding up just as well.

Don’t have a copy yet? You can start wearing out your copy here: http://hagriddenbook.com/buy_hagridden_book.php

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

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