Six Dangers of the Reading Life

Some might look at us readers tucked into our cozy armchairs or stretched out on our beach towels with a book in hand and think the book lover’s life is an easy one.

Oh, no. That’s where they’re wrong. If you’re a seasoned reader, I’m sure you’ve realized there are multiple pitfalls and perils that dog the reader’s every step—I mean, page. Here are a few of them, arranged in order of approximate danger level.

Papercuts

Oh, the indignity of that sharp slice of pain, when all you wanted to do was lovingly turn those beloved pages. It’s a wound that cuts deep, even though it cuts shallowly. This is especially common in suspenseful books, when you’re trying to turn pages quickly to see what happens next.

Tip for Combating This Danger: Apply a generous amount of self-pity, then blame your least favorite character in the novel for directly attacking you. This should dull the pain and allow you to move on. If this is a frequent peril, consider using an e-reader instead. Or wear gloves or a handful of thimbles.

Mild Disdain from Other Readers

You know who they are. They’re the ones who demand everyone think their book club pick was flawlessly brilliant. The ones who post scathing one-star reviews on your favorite books and tell you to your face how “predicable and trite” they are. The ones who brag about having completed 99 of the “100 Classic Novels to Read Before You Die” list…and they only haven’t gotten to Les Misérables because they’re working on their French so they can read it in the original language. If you venture into the bookish world, be warned: you’ll be sure to encounter these critics and naysayers and their superior looks.

Tip for Combating This Danger: Amazingly, if you simply don’t care what these readers think about you, your favorite author, or your go-to genre, they have no power to ruin your day. Poof. Gone. I mean, I’m all for challenging yourself and occasionally reading outside your comfort zone, but part of the beauty in the world is that we all have different tastes and preferences. There are books out there for anyone, but not every book is for everyone, and that’s more than okay; it’s great!

(Also, the disdainful readers just approved of the fact that I used a semi-colon. They like semi-colons.)

Spoilers

My sister informed me last week that she was reading a kids’ mystery to put in her classroom. When a new character was introduced, she saw, in the margin of a library book, a scrawled, “HE IS THE KIDNAPPER,” rendering the next two hundred pages useless. Can you imagine such dastardly devilry? And at such a young age! But it’s not only tiny troublemakers you have to watch out for here. Indiscreet Amazon reviews that dump the entire plot before your curious eyes, accidentally openings to the wrong page, and excitable friends who just can’t help themselves all fall into this category. Watch out, or you’ll tumble into the Abyss of Knowing, and you’ll never get out.

Tip for Combating This Danger: Pre-order books you don’t want spoiled, and then isolate yourself until you’ve turned past the last page as an extra precaution. A bunker would be nice, if available. And if you’re one of those deluded people who read the ending of a book first…I’m sorry, there’s no help for you.

Natural Forces

This is a broad category, encompassing everything from the force of gravity pulling your cracker crumbs into the binding of the book from which they will never escape to sudden rainstorms when you’re reading outside, forcing you to securely swaddle your book in your hammock and flee a mile back to your vehicle, soaking wet and completely bedraggled while the book remains dry. (If you think both of these are based on personal experience…you’re right.)

Tip for Combating This Danger: There are innumerable forces and factors that might try to keep you from your book or ruin your reading experience (carsickness on a road trip, an unsealed coffee cup lid, library pandemic shut-downs), so it’s hard to give a one-size-fits-all solution. The only advice I can give is: be vigilant. Threats to reading are everywhere.

Emotional Exhaustion

Whether you keep the tissue box handy because you’re reading a tear-jerker or just because you hate to say goodbye to beloved bookish friends, the best stories will sweep you up into the characters’ trials and triumphs…and sometimes leave you with a post-book emotional hangover.

Tip for Combating This Danger: Take a deep breath. Then share the book with a friend, gush about it online, thank the author, or otherwise transfer those emotions to the real world. Don’t bother reminding yourself that the characters and their worlds aren’t real; this is no fun and also probably won’t help.

Suffocation by Collapsed TBR Pile

You know how it goes. Your favorite author has a new release, so you order it. Your book club coordinator hands you the novel for next month. Your friend is just dying to talk to you about the latest thriller. A stunning cover practically leaps off the shelf at you when browsing at a bookstore. There’s that one movie adaptation, and of course you have to read the book first. And the next thing you know, the delivery driver knows you by first name and is friends with you on Goodreads, and your house looks like some kind of towering literary maze of madness. If you venture among the stacks of tomes, you could get crushed, especially if you try to pull out a title from the bottom. Will it ever all get read? Who can say?

Tip for Combating This Danger: Keep an emergency whistle around your neck so you can call for help if needed, or find some sort of reinforced steel supports to maintain your stacks of worthy novels. (What, did you think I was going to tell you to read the books you have before buying or checking out more? What do you think this guide is, a humor piece?)

 

Sometimes it feels like the whole world is trying to keep you from your book, but we know that true readers will prevail! Together, we can watch each other’s backs, fight against obstacles to reading, and finish “just one more chapter.”

We’re sure we forgot a few perils, reader. What do you think are the most dangerous parts of living in the book world?

29 thoughts on “Six Dangers of the Reading Life

  1. It probably fits under natural disasters, but sunburn: it is pernicious and stealthy. I spent an afternoon reading outside IN THE SHADE and still was burned by evening.

  2. Running out of storage for beloved novels and the TBR’s to the point they need their own room in the house. It could get to the point where you have to choose–family member or books!

  3. Thanks for this terrific post! I’m soooo glad that you didn’t say read your books before acquiring more. NOT gonna happen! I admit it: I am an addict. But it is soooo much better than other addictions! And I really don’t spend a lot.
    I would add: not getting exercise because you sit and read all day. Tip: audiobooks while on your exercise machine!

    • I like that tip, Paula! Although I will admit, with the comment about space, I was expecting you to say something like, “Store extra books on your treadmill!” That shows my priorities…

      Amy Lokkesmoe
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  4. The danger in my house is timing my reading of the last few chapters of a great book to coincide with my husband being at work, running errands, or going to bed. I’ve lost count of how many times I am involved in a great story conclusion when my husband walks by and asks me mundane questions, or make comments. To avoid this danger, read around disruption schedules! 🙂

  5. Oh my gosh, thanks for the laugh, Amy! This is hysterical. And, yes, I definitely approved of your semi-colon! 😂

  6. There is one peril that is especially true for me: sleep deprivation. I just can’t stop reading and before I know it the birds are already singing their morning symphonies. And when the book isn’t finished by evening, I’m not afraid to pull another all nighter. I don’t learn. Am afraid I also recognize all the other perils lol, this blog post is made of pure humor that’s hilarious because it’s so recognisable.

  7. These are some perilous things indeed! I would like to add: having to wait an entire year (or even a few months) for the next book in a series that has you on the edge of your seat.

    Tip: wait until the series is finished (if you can hold out) and read all the books at once.

  8. Loved it. Biggest problem is that reading becomes addictive and lots of time you end up reading books that fall flat. I wonder if the Christian fiction writers all went to the same writer’s conference about a decade ago and all got excited about writing detective romances where a stubborn woman falls in love with a detective against her wishes and finally realizes that she does need a man in her life. Seems to be a pretty common plot.

    • Yes, there are some similar plots that come around, but that’s why it’s great to find (and recommend) someone who stands out. I relate to the addictive part too!

      Amy Lokkesmoe
      BHP Fiction Publicist

  9. Loved it. The dangers of a TBR are indeed a reality having suffered from the stack toppling over onto my head several times. If only those one time only sales didn’t have a greater discount with the more titles you purchase. But at least I filled out the entire series with one sale.

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