Books are the building blocks of the road to an open mind. A good book is the makeshift teepee I hide under in my bed when the world is being too worldly. It is the stone I throw when I aim to hit the nonsensical blabbermouth with some knowledge. A good book can bend your perspective to see light in the darkest places. I can’t quite put into words how it feels when I am holding a new book that I am eager to read. I love the feel of books, the smell of the pages, learning new words. The list goes on. Books are the shit.
Sometimes life gets hectic and I can’t find enough time when my brain isn’t mush to soak up some pages. And it always seems that at this time someone always lends me a book.
Seems harmless enough…
…but is it?
I know that when someone wants you to read a book they mean well. Unless it’s one of those self help books and they give it to you with that self righteous face saying “You really NEED to read this.”
That’s just really irritating.
But yes, when someone lends you one of their books, that book transforms from a glossy rectangle of escape to a sharp edged, weighty obligation.
When I own a book, I can read it at my own leisure. I don’t have to discuss it with anyone unless I so desire. I can rest my coffee cup on it, mess up the cover, get mad but then move on with my life. It’s my book so I can enjoy it how and when I please and when life gets too crazy, I know that the book will be waiting for me whenever I am able to see it again unlike the surly friend you didn’t remember to call back.
BUT when that book isn’t yours it simply ruins everything.
You’re suddenly pressured to read a book that you may or may not have any interest in reading. From here you have two options. A) Read it as quickly as you can so you can return the damn thing or B) put it aside and let it burn a hole in the back of your mind every waking minute and burden you with an incredible sense of inadequacy every time you see it sitting there unread…yet another thing that you simply can’t get done.
So option A tends to be the better option as it’s like ripping off a 562 page band-aid. This hurts in so many ways…your wonderful quiet escape into fascinating worlds becomes an endless trudge though romantic drivel or laborious wording that makes your face throb like a sinus infection.
You’re trying REALLY hard to like the book but you just want to get it over with. You skim as best as you can while getting the general idea but you really don’t retain too much because you’re a rebel at the core of things and your subconscious just won’t let you embrace the bastard book dropped on your doorstep. You finish it…or at least can honestly say that your hand turned each one of the pages individually…and you go to give it back.
It’s finally over.
To which you want to respond, ‘I think I just lost several hours on my life to a mindless persecution’
And now you are forced to discuss the book in length as if you were back in grade school being abruptly woken from a nap by the English teacher asking what you thought about the last few pages of Harriet’s Daughter. FML.
The second option of casually ignoring the presence of the book is about as healthy as any other kind of attempt at prolonged suppression of negative emotions. You know the book wields the power to riddle all of your warm feelings of being at home with gnawing guilt and self-condemnation and you just can't keep it around. You are also sick to death of every single conversation with the lender beginning in the same way.
You may wonder why a swift return of the book isn’t the first option but you have to remember that anyone willing to burden you with a laborious novel is also willing to burden you with an even more laborious, long lived guilt trip about the time you cast away their very well meaning gesture of asking you to read a book that repulses you on a cellular level.
So now you are in the merciless jaws of guilt. You can’t return the book without reading it and avoid a long life of nagging from your butt-hurt friend. You can’t ignore the book at home and read something else because it is like trying to eat your favourite dinner while simultaneously trying to ignore the fact that all of your molars need root canals. Even if you manage to put off the guilt around not reading it you still have the pressing responsibility of being in custody of someone else’s property that if lost or damaged will lead you to the same guilt trip acquired from not reading it in the first place. Or worse, the combined insult of not reading it as well as returning it dog-eared may trigger your friend to lend you another book about the importance of being reliable. So option B always leads you back to option A…except you are now an emotionally strained, rather unnerved yet subdued version of yourself accepting your fate like a man on death’s row with nothing left to live for. Thanks a lot pal.
So the moral of this story is that if you want someone to read a book, just suggest it verbally or buy them a damn copy. That way they can conveniently forget to order it off of Amazon or happily stow it away indefinitely without the menacing return date eclipsing the light from their reading lamp.