Look, we’re all readers here, aren’t we? Or, you know, tea-drinkers, cake-lovers, and readers. But don’t you sometimes, sneakily, every now and then, hate books a teeny little bit?
Wait! No, come back, come back. Look, I have cake. And books.
But I mean, come on. Even tea turns on us sometimes, and burns our tongues. And cake … well, you get icing stuck to your fingers and crumbs down your top, for a start. And let’s not mention eating cookies in bed, and waking up to find you dropped a chocolate chip on your pillow and now look like a cute kid in a chocolate commercial (only less cute, more alarming, if you’re me).
So isn’t it at least possible there could be a few tiny, tiny things that we at least don’t like very much about books …?
1. They stomp all over our hearts. I mean, there you are, entirely invested in the characters, submerged in a world that’s so real and so vibrant you can taste it, believing fully in the story and rooting for the MC and sidekicks to triumph … and they kill the dog. Why? Why? I’ve still never forgiven Dean Koontz for the trauma he caused my pre-teen self in Watchers. Not ever. I mean, sometimes they kill person-characters that you were pretty attached to as well, but why would you kill the dog, you monster?
2. They give us unrealistic expectations. No, I don’t mean book boyfriends (although they’re pretty unrealistic too). I mean the really good stuff. Dragons. Invisibility cloaks. Being descended from gods and able to breathe underwater. Saving/conquering worlds. Destroying our enemies with a flourish and an evil laugh, then building a castle of their skulls. And (this is the real biggie), always having a good comeback. I mean, seriously. I have never once had a good one-liner. I want my money back.
3. They eat hours like very hungry time caterpillars. I sometimes think that, if it wasn’t for books, I might actually have quite normal sleep patterns. But no, instead I just one more chapter my way into the wee small hours with no consideration for the day to come, and it’s not my fault. Honestly. It’s the books.
4. They turn us into little spitting book dragons. And by that I don’t just mean the hoarding on shelves, bedside tables, window sills, and the floor, or the furtive book-sniffing in shops and petting of covers, or the itemised lists of do’s and don’ts included when lending them out. No, it’s worse than that. I’ll make a confession here – I am that person who didn’t have the money to buy a book, so hid it behind others in a bookshop. *Hangs head in shame* I did go back to buy it not very much later, but I still feel awful about that. Damn you, books and your hold over me! *shakes fist in direction of bookshelf*
5. They multiply and take over the house. I swear I never bought this many books. And we keep moving, so I keep having (reluctant) clear-outs, so it’s utterly impossible that I’ve collected them all myself. They’re obviously breeding in the night, producing lots of little books that grow in the shadows behind the shelves until they’re big enough to appear next to the others and pretend they’ve been there all along. It’s the only explanation. *avoids eye contact with the bag of books she just brought home from the charity shop*
6. They fill us with useless knowledge. I mean, I can still recite word for word half the songs in Lord of the Rings, and thanks to Trixie Belden I know apple seeds contain cyanide (which, as a writer of cozy mysteries, may be useful, but I could have looked it up). I also know various methods for surviving a shipwreck (including what you should carry on your person at all times, which for a few years as a wee small thing I did. Matches, pocketknife with compass, first aid kit, notebook and pencil, apparently. Yes, my parents just let me get on with it. Yes, there were injuries. It was also fun) and how to find water having survived said shipwreck. This means, however, that there is no room in my head for grown-up information like how to have a normal social interaction.
7. They confuse us. They make us see the world through the eyes of people we’ve never met, coming from cultures we’ve never encountered. They make us question what we thought we knew about the world and the way it operates. They make us see life from different angles and perspectives, and do away with “just because”. They make us realise that we know much less about our reality and that of others than we thought, and they make us think and feel things that are uncomfortable. They grant us the chance to experience the world differently.
So, you see, books are just big, dusty chunks of thought-provoking trouble. They’re like little papery anarchists, slouching on shadowy shelves and lurking in our devices, beckoning us with a hiss of, “Hey, kid. Wanna see something?” Bad, bad books, right?
Yeah, I didn’t even convince myself. Okay, lovely people – tell me what you hate or love or love to hate about books below!