What it Feels Like When Your Friends Don’t Have a Book

I bring a book almost everywhere I go. A relaxing trip to the beach or lounging about a cabin? Loads of down time = bring a book. Possible long lines wherever we’re going? Impatience = Bring a book. Any time spent in major transportation hubs or on mass transportation? Boredom = Bring a book.

In fact, if there is a shred of possibility that I will be unengaged or must exert some iota of patience, I bring a book. I know, I’m awful. But, as awful as I am, nothing makes me more docile, manageable or pleasant than a good book.

Every so often, though, I find myself in the company of people who do not bring books.  And that means I cannot read mine. That means I have to converse with them until one of us find something else to do. 

I cannot whip out my book and disappear into it because that’s rude.  You can’t just leave companions behind to stew in their own thoughts. You must be sociable, if not entertaining, and at the very least you must pretend to listen. 

This is what it feels like when I have a book I’m itching to read, and my friends didn’t bring their own:

1.  Self-satisfaction. I brought a book. I am so prepared for everything. Adulthood, here I come!

2. Anticipation. Once we get settled on this plane/train/beach/cabin porch, oh it’s going to be sweet sweet uninterrupted reading time! 

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3. Realization. Oh you didn’t bring a book? Ok.

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4. Realization II. Oh so now you want me to talk to you to pass the time? Okaaaaaayyyyyy.

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5. FINE. Slowly putting my book down while gazing at it with yearning. Let the talking begin. 

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6. Forced good cheer. Lalalala conversing is fun, yay human interaction! Yay, desperately thinking of things to say.

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7. Reproachfulness. You should have brought a book too and saved us both from this uncomfortable charade.

8. A solution presents itself.

9. And so it was. And there was much talking and conviviality.

10. But secretly I hoped you’d pass out 

11. And then I could read my book in peace.

So please, PLEASE friends - if we are traveling together, waiting together for anything (tickets, an iPhone 6, your OKCupid date), if we’re vacationing together, going to the beach or camping together, if you anticipate any downtime in which we will not be in each other’s faces doing some all-consuming activity (like drinking) - for the love of God Bring. A. Book.

What It Feels Like When You Don’t Like My Book Recommendations

The other day, a friend told me he wasn’t liking the book I had recently recommended. A normal, well-adjusted human being would probably just shrug and say “to each his own.” But for a book nerd, this is one of the most emotionally devastating things that can happen.

If someone doesn’t like a book you recommended, you start questioning your own literary tastes, how much you really value this person’s friendship and whether you have any remaining credibility with them. You pinball between a dozen varying states of emotion, all while trying to tell your friend that you’re not taking their feedback personally but you are having a really difficult time looking at their face right now and you need space…

Here’s are the 10 awful things you feel when a friend doesn’t like your book recommendation**:

1. Disbelief.

Wait, what? How could you not like this book? It’s won awards! It’s written about a socially incisive subject matter! You probably are confusing this book with another. Are you sure you read the right book?

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2. Guilt.

I’m a terrible friend with terrible recommendations. I should’ve known they wouldn’t like this book! What was I thinking?

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3. Indignation.

How was I supposed to know you don’t like critically-acclaimed, masterful satire? Everyone else thinks this book is great, maybe you’re the one who is boring and uninspired. I can’t account for your strange tastes.

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4. Petty, sulky anger.

How could you not like this book? I picked it out just for you. What kind of person are you? Do you even value our friendship? Why are we even friends if we don’t like the same books?

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5. Interrogation.  

Why didn’t you like it? Why was that character uncompelling? Why did you stop on page 231 without finishing it? 

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6. Understanding.

Oh, you say the inaccurate vernacular is distracting and the characters one-dimensional? Ok, you might have a point there. Maybe I spoke too hastily earlier about you being stupid.

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6. Concession.

Hmm, all your criticisms about the book are actually rather accurate and insightful. Of course, I’ll never admit it to your face.

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7. Fear of Judgment.

Don’t judge me on this one mistake! Give me a second chance, I can change and get better at recommending books to you!

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8. Insecurity.

Are we still friends? Are you ever going to read what I recommend again? Do you think I have terrible taste? Are you going to tell everyone that I recommended a book you didn’t like and shame me forever socially?

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9. Relief.

Oh, you want me to recommend another book? Oh happy day.  We ARE friends and you DO trust me. Oh you won’t regret giving me a second chance, I’m definitely going to recommend a book you’ll absolutely LOVE this time.

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10. Frustration.

Three days later, you’re saying to another friend, “Oh my god, I have to pick a book out for my friend who is just SO picky. He didn’t like the last book I recommended, _____, can you believe it? He said the language was distracting and the characters one-dimensional. What the hell? Does he even like to read or does he just like taking books down?”

**Obviously I’m not very good at dealing with book recommendation rejection. 

10 Telltale Signs of a Book-Measuring Contest

The meeting of two book nerds is usually a joyous occasion. But, every so often, when one literarily-inclined person meets another, a competitive spark is struck.

They start talking about who’s read more, who knows more, whose books are longer, harder, thicker…  it all devolves into one big dick book-measuring contest.

They’ll show off the length and girth of their literary knowledge. They’ll banter over who is more well-hung well-read, they’ll compare the bulge of their bookshelves and maneuver to be top dog in the book nerd hierarchy.  It’s awful to watch.

For your edification, here are 10 Tell-tale signs of a Book-Measuring Contest:

1. When they first discover that they both like to read, instead of reacting like this: 

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they react like this:

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2. They compare how much they read each week. “I read 3 novels a week” “Well I read 6 novellas a week!” “Well I read 3 novels and at least 12 short stories a week!” “Well I read 6 novellas and 14 issues of the New Yorker a week!!!”

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3. They ask each other what kind of books they like.  Answers require naming at least three highly specific, esoteric sub-genres, i.e. “19th century Russian realist fiction”, “post-modern British urban phallocratic fiction”, “experimental feminist fiction from the post-colonial era.”

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4. They respond to every question about their literary proclivities and preferences by saying “That’s an excellent question.”

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5. Words like “paradigm,”“post-modern” and “bildungsroman” are batted about.  Basically, they spew forth any words they heard in their comp lit class in liberal arts college. 

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6. They one up each other by asking about big, throbbing, hard books, “Have you read _____?” They’re just dying to yell “Gotcha!” when the other guys doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

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7. If one person hasn’t read something, the other person will repeat the question at least three times with increasingly judgmental emphasis - “You haven’t read Blah blah blah? You haven’t read Blah blah blah? You haven’t read Blah blah blah?!” Cue look of incredulity and disgust.

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8. When they recommend books to each other, they say patronizingly, “You’ll like it. It’s accessible. And not very long.” Translation:

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9. One of them will casually mention that they majored in/wrote a thesis on/have a massive hard-on degree in comparative literature.  So they’re actually, ahem, experts.

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 10. The other one will say that they’re actually working on their first novel. It’s going to be big. Really biiiig.  Like, huge. What’s it about? Oh it’s just an avant-garde social commentary on the human condition. You wouldn’t understand.

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So the next time you overhear to two people going at it about whose literary know-how is longer, stronger and more well-rounded, you’ll know what they’re really comparing:

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Of Books and Bros

*This post is written with thanks to my beloved book bros: Dr. B.E.C., Ropegun H.G.E., Yoda T.M., Mr. Manager T.L., Disney Jail L.P., Little L.H, Bronx J.C. and N.Z.

When I say “nerd” what do you see? Probably someone with glasses.  Soft-bodied, soft-spoken, pale, dreamy, “indoor” kids. Perhaps you think of a twee little hipster - thick frames, androgynous bodies, vintage clothing, living their lives out in a fair-trade, shade-grown coffee shop writing in a moleskine notebook made of recycled kombucha bottles.

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Although I use the phrase “book nerd” lovingly and frequently, many of the people whose literary tastes I most admire are not actually nerds.  They’re devastatingly cool. Quite a few of them are jocks.  None of them are shy. So, I categorized them as part of a heretofore unrecognized demographic - the opposite of book nerds, the Book Bros.  

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Book Bros love to read, and they do so voraciously. They’re incredibly knowledgeable about literature, but they rarely discuss it openly. 

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They’re athletes, they spend a lot of time outdoors, party hard and work hard.  They’re outgoing, outspoken, popular with the opposite sex and have no problem hanging out with people who haven’t read a book since high school. In light of their hyperactivity, it is an utter mystery when they get their leisure reading done, but they do it nonetheless.

Here are 13 Signs You Might Be a Book Bro too:

1. You’ve gone for a run with a book.

2. You’ve gone on a climbing/camping trip with books.

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3. Physical pain has never made you cry, but books have.

4. You’ve read a book while taking the subway. Drunk. At 3 a.m. On a Tuesday.

5. You’ve read a book while at the gym.

6. You work everyday, work out everyday, never pass up a social event and barely have time to sleep, yet somehow you’ve read 3 books this week.

7. Whenever you’re at a house party, you drunkenly inspect their bookshelves.  

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8. A lot of your friends don’t read, will never read and have no idea that you do. It’s a little lonely.

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9. You don’t mind trashy people, places, parties and dive bars, but you’ll never. never. never read a trashy book.

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10. You’ve been tempted to correct NYU kids on the L train that James Joyce is not actually stream of consciousness but you were too hungover.

11. Screw The Strand totebags. Your books are carried around in waterproof Arcteryx, Black Diamond, Patagonia, North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Osprey …

12. You hated it when the teacher had kids read out loud in class because they were slow.  

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13. You read faster than anyone you know. Because you have shit to do. 

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A Book Snob’s Guide to Judging a Book By Its Cover

People always ask me how I choose what to read.  Their curiosity is understandable because there are a lot of books to choose from.  In fact, Google estimated that, as of 2010, there were 130 million books out there.

So how do I decide, out of millions of books, which ones to read? That’s easy. I’m a incorrigible book snob.

Here’s my Book Snob’s Guide to Judging a Book By Its Cover:

1. Trade Fiction vs. Mass-Market Fiction

Is the book 7 inches by 4 inches, $7.99 and has a lurid, shiny cover where the author’s name takes up half the cover? Don’t read it.

It’s mass-market fiction and it’s beneath you. Mass-market fiction includes a lot of romance novels, a large chunk of mystery novels, thrillers and sci-fi.

Is the book 8 inches by 5 inches, $14.95, with a muted cover design? It’s trade fiction and we’re moving in the right literary direction. This has potential to be good. You may proceed.

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2. Inspect the Cover Image

Is it pastel-colored or hot pink? Does it look like it’s going to be about shopping and cupcakes and friendship and finding Mr. Right? If so, don’t read it. It’s chick lit and it’s just an episode of Sex and the City in book format.

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3. Read the Accolade on the Cover

There’s always one rave review quote on the cover. The quote itself is not as useful as knowing who it’s from. Publishers can choose from all kinds of quotes to put on the cover, so they will choose the best one for their purposes. Is the blurb by the New York Times? Great. Boston Globe? Cool. The New Yorker? Sit down and read it right this second. On the other hand, if the cover quote is from USA Today? Mehh.  People Magazine? Whatever.

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4. Winner’s Circle

Is there a goldish-colored circle on the cover? Did this book win a prize? Which prize? If it didn’t win, was it either nominated or shortlisted for a prize? If anything in that circle says Nobel, Pulitzer, Man Booker, PEN/Faulkner or PEN/Bellwether, you should deeply consider reading it.

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5. Read the Synopsis on the Back

Read the summary or synopsis on the back of the book.  Does it appeal to you?

6. Adjectives, adjectives, adjectives.

There’s usually more praise for the book on the back. Do the adjectives used to describe the book appeal to you? Are you in the mood for a book that is “wacky” or “imaginative” or “profound” or “searing”?

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7. Author Praise

There’s often praise for the book by other authors. As with reviews, check who those authors are and whether their opinion is one you value. If an author you like praises a book, then it’s probably a sign that you’ll like the book too. Jonathan Franzen? Ok. Dave Eggers? Sure.  Alice Munro? Reading it right NOW.

Be aware that there are some writers, even great ones, who are so prolific in their blurb-writing that they will give a nice blurb to a Chinese takeout menu. That’s understandable - writers are often nice people who struggled with their first works and want to be supportive of other up and coming writers. That said, don’t use their overly kind blurbs to guide your ruthless quest for good literature.

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8. A Peek Inside

These days, a lot of books are published with additional blurbs on the immediate inside pages. These excerpts are usually more informative and more detailed than the ones on the cover. Sometimes they’ll discuss how endearing the protagonist is, or they’ll compare the book to a famous classic, or they’ll discuss specific aspects of the writer’s style. 

9. Know Thyself

Most importantly, see if the book appeals to you. I’ve put down many a book that won prizes, had excellent reviews, an intriguing plot summary and a multitude of praise from renown authors because I simply didn’t feel like reading it.

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The Book Blurb Dictionary

“A luminous masterpiece!” “Profoundly moving!” “Exhilaratingly exuberant!”

These days, books come out with all kinds of adulatory blurbs on the cover. It takes five minutes just to read the cover of the book to decide if you want to read the inside of the book itself.

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Here to help:  THE BOOK BLURB DICTIONARY - a quick guide to understanding what all those rave reviews really mean.

“An adventure” - characters spend a lot of time outside, doing things that seem both fun and exhausting.

“Beautiful” - this book describes a lot of scenery.

“Chekhovian” - nobody in this book talks much and nobody resolves their issues.

“Compassionate” - some people in this book aren’t likable, but you feel sorry for them anyway.

“Darkly comic” - someone dies in this book, but it’s ok because it’s funny.

“Deep” - people in this book spend a lot of time thinking about themselves and having epiphanies.

“Dickensian” - some people in this book are really, really poor. Other people take advantage of them.

“Engaging” - this book is nonfiction but we promise you won’t even notice.

“Eerie” - weird creepy stuff happens and goes unexplained for the entirety of the book.

“Fast-paced” - this book will probably be a movie in a few months.

“Haunting” - something bad is happening or will happen or has already happened in this book.

“Instant classic” - book clubs will probably read this book.

“Irreverent” - there are a lot of swear words in this book.

“Kerouacian” - at some point in this book, two guys will drive somewhere together. And get drunk.

“Mysteries of the human heart” - people in this book repress their feelings and do strange things.

“Poignant” - this book will give you the feels. Oh what feels!

"Postmodern" - hipsters will like this book.

“Raw” - this book has violence, sex or drug and alcohol abuse. Or all three.

“Remarkable” - we didn’t expect this book to be good but hey, it actually is.

“Satire” - this book makes fun of things.

“Searing satire” - this book makes fun of things we generally like.

“Tolstoyan” - this book is long and detailed.

“Virtuosic” - the author writes from the point of view of a lot of different characters in this book.

“Wacky” - at least one character in this book is batshit crazy, and everyone goes along with what they’re doing.

“Wicked” - people do mean things to each other in this book but it’s kind of funny.

The Book Blurb Dictionary will be added to periodically for the benefit of book nerds everywhere.

8 Stages of Being A Book Nerd in a Bookstore

Whenever I see a bookstore, I have to go inside it.  I can’t help it.  I’ve never passed a bookstore without browsing for a bit.  Doesn’t matter what kind of bookstore it is - big shiny bookstores or dilapidated used bookstores, I need to peek into them all.

Other people obsess over the latest shoe trends, or sleek sports equipment, or methodically test out moisture-wicking athletic gear (I’m looking at YOU my friends). We all have our objects of rigorous fascination. We all have our familiar rituals for going to “visit” the things we love but can’t buy. It’s our personal breakfast at Tiffany’s.

For book nerds, it’s bookstores that make our hearts pound.  Here are the eight stages that all book nerds go through at a bookstore:

1. Love At First Sight

Oh look! There’s a bookstore! Suddenly the day is better, the sun is brighter, the summer-steamed sidewalks of New York less smelly. You develop the astonishing ability to power-walk across four lanes of traffic whilst dragging your companions with you.

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2. Inspect the Discount Books

First, check the discount books.  Unlike clothing stores, where the clearance rack is always in the back and saleswomen sneer at you as a you make a beeline for it, bookstores put discount books upfront. Because they love you and understand you.

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3. Serenity Now

It’s a different world in a bookstore. Bookstores are a sanctuary in the city. They’re always quiet, solemn spaces, and even when they’re crowded, it’s a respectful, quiet crowd. Women do not yell at their children here, teenagers do not shriek here and it’s never “show time! show time!” in here.

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4. Getting Oriented

You do a quick lap around the store to get your bearings. Where’s the fiction section? Is anything alphabetized? What are these stacks of books on the floor? What’s upstairs? Is that Doc Brown lookalike the eccentric proprietor?  

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5. Browse Away!

You descend eagerly on the fiction section. You flick your eyes over book spines, tip them out of the shelves, look at the cover and peruse the back. You look for New York Times book reviews, blurbs by favorite authors and that telltale gold circle that tells you this book is a prize winner. You read the summary. Intrigued, you add it to the pile of books you’re going to buy.

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6. Indecision

You’ve amassed a giant pile of potential purchases and you have to whittle it down. You can’t buy eleven books. You need to whittle it down to two. Or three. Ok maybe four.

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7. Victory!

You emerge out of the store victorious. Your friends ask you what you got and you painstakingly go through each of the books with them.  They don’t care, they’re just being nice. You don’t care, you’re just happy you have books!

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8. Bidding Adieu

Goodbye Bookstore! So many wonderful books in there left un-perused and un-purchased. You hope someone else will buy them and give them a good home. If not, you’ll be back. Probably tomorrow.

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7 Kinds of People Who Confuse Book Nerds

The world is a varied and dazzling place, both charming and alarming in the diversity of people that exist. I feel like I’m at least worldly enough to handle differences in culture, religion, class, background, sexual preference, identity, mental health, political leanings, astrological signs etc. with more or less unflinching tolerance. I’m not saying I’m cosmopolitan, but as a general rule I am socially adept enough to know not to be shocked, dumbly uncomprehending or utterly aghast at how some people live.

BUT, there are some people in the world I will just never. NEVER. never. understand. I am so stumped by them that I want to shake them and yell, “But how can this be?! how can you be?!!”

And with that, on behalf of book nerds everywhere, here are the 7 Kinds of People Who Confuse Book Nerds:

1. People Who Sleep

Why aren’t you awake and reading? There are only so many hours in a day, many of them filled with useless things like your job and commuting and talking to people and putting food in your face. With so few hours left before you have to wake up and do it all over again, why aren’t you reading? It’s quiet, it’s late, nobody it going to bother you. Just look at you, lying there, and wasting this perfectly good uninterrupted reading time. LIFE IS SHORT YOU KNOW!!!!

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2. People Who See Movies of Books They Haven’t Read

Wait, so you’re going to see Anna Karenina and you don’t know that she kills herself? You’ve seen Kubrick and Lyne’s visions of Lolita but know nothing of Nabokov’s? Book nerds find this unfathomable.

If you haven’t read the book, what are you going to compare this movie to? How will you know if it’s a good movie? How will you have pretentious opinions that show you’re an aspiring member of the literati? These are very nerve-wracking questions for book nerds. We only go to see movies based on books so we can judge whether it did the book justice, and then we bicker about it amongst ourselves using big phrases like “post-modern,” “interpretive liberties,” and “Robert Redford is hotter than Leo”!

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3. Candy Crushers 

What is so interesting about lining up rows of imaginary candy? Is it the colors, the sounds, the slot machine-like allure of the game or is it the spirit of competition that Candy Crushers find so addictive? Did you know that in the time that it takes for you to reach level 213 you could’ve read a book? Laughed, cried, fallen in love a little, learned more of the human condition?

Also, did you know you can read a book without ever having to spam anyone on Facebook to get to the next page? Did you know if you don’t finish a page you don’t have to wait 24 hours to read it again?  READ A DAMN BOOK AND STOP INVITING ME TO CANDY CRUSH!

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4. People Who Are Bored

As Louis C.K. said, “You live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve experienced none percent of.” Books help you experience that vastness when you’re standing on a subway platform or sitting in the dentist’s chair or even when trapped on a really bad date. Reading lets you be in two places at once. So how can you be bored?

Oh you think the “act of reading” is boring? You don’t like the act of looking at words? The act of watching a movie is staring straight ahead, the act of skydiving is just falling, the act of getting drunk is putting lots of liquids in your face so what the hell are you talking about?! 

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5. People With Tiny Purses

Hello Girl with Tiny Clutch, where is your book? Are you out for a night on the town with nothing to read? Do you know how long it takes a subway to come at 2 a.m. and how long it will take to get to your stop? It will always take over two hours, doesn’t matter what train you take or where you live.

What will you do for two plus hours? You have nothing in that tiny purse except your credit cards, your phone, mascara and one expired condom. You should have been prepared and brought a book. Now you’re stuck staring at the Dr. Zizmor ad in your train and wondering if that guy from the bar is going to text you.

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6. People Who Just LIE THERE on Beaches

This is how my beach conversations often go:

Me: Hey, are you sleeping? 

F: No.

Me: Oh. If you’re not sleeping, what are you doing?

F: Just working on my tan. 

Me: Aren’t you bored?

F: No.

Me: But you’re just lying there. What do you think about?

F: Nothing. 

Me: What?! Did you bring anything to read? Want one of my books to read? I have four. You can have this one that I just finished. Or this one that I’m almost done with. Want a book?

F: No.

Me: But you’re just lying there.  Aren’t you bored? Here, have a book.

F: NO!

Me: What are you thinking about then?

F: NOTHING!

Me: Ok, I’ll let you sleep then.  

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AND THE MOST UNFATHOMABLE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD ARE…

7. People Who Ban Books

I hear North Korea is lovely this time of year.

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Jonesin’ in a Jet: 10 Steps of Surviving Book Withdrawal

I went on vacation recently and realized, upon arriving at the airport, that I had. forgotten. to. bring. a. book.

I told myself to breathe. You can do this, I said, lots of people fly without books.  You can sleep.  You can look out the window.  Talk to your boyfriend - look at him! He never flies with a book and he’s never died of boredom. 

I gulped water.  I paced nervously.  I called my parents for support.  I tried to sleep.  I gnawed at my nails.  I ate all the snacks in my pack.  It was all to no avail.  By the time I’d boarded the plane and the cold metal of the seat belt was snugly around my waist, I was already getting the cold sweats and the itches. 

Withdrawal.  It’s a bitch.  And if you’re a book nerd like me you’ll recognize these 10 withdrawal symptoms for those times when you’re jonesin’ for a lit fix. 

1. Attempted Napping

Your first instinct when you’re caught high and dry without reading material is to close your eyes.  You’re trying to lie to yourself - I didn’t want to read anyway! Look, see, I’m sleeping.  My eyes are tired and they’re shut tight against the world, so really the availability of a compelling novel is completely irrelevant.  But we all know that pretending to sleep is the book nerd equivalent of sticking your head in the sand.  

2. Attempted Scenic Appreciation

You give up trying to sleep.  You’ve just been staring at the insides of your eyelids for twenty minutes, trying to conjure up some text.  You look at the window.  That’s what normal people do isn’t it? Look at the pretty sky, look at the clouds!  Ok, that killed all of thirty seconds.  How long am I supposed to stare at the sky for? I wish I had a book.

3. Excessive Fidgeting

Suddenly, you’re too hot.  Or you’re too cold.  Or the overhead fan above your seat is annoying the top of your head.  Or the arm rest is too hard.  Or your shoes or too tight.  You fidget endlessly, trying to get comfortable, but nothing works.  You open and close your tray table at least six times.  You flip your arm rest up and down until your boyfriend implores you to stop.  You heave a long sigh and slouch in your seat, playing with your seatbelt.  You wish you had a book. 

4. Lowering Your Reading Standards

At a dangerous low point in your withdrawal, you suddenly lower your reading standards.  You just want to get your hands on any print, just a little of the written word, just a quick reading fix to tide you through this dark period.  You read Delta’s inflight magazine cover to cover, three times.  You even read all the advertising copy for freezing your fat and injecting your body with some wonder-hormone.  You mentally workout the crossword puzzle because you don’t have a pen.  You peruse terminal maps and descriptions of all the airports’ immigration requirements.  You read a synopsis of Madagascar 2, which is being screened on flights from Atlanta to Munich and Tokyo.  You’re not even on that flight and you’ve never seen the first Madagascar.  You wish you had a book.

5. Rock Bottom

You hit rock bottom.  Hands shaking, eyes blinking rapidly, your self restraint buckles and you each for Sky Mall.  There’s nothing else to read, this will have to do.  You hate yourself for it but you need to read the words in there, the words that tell you that this plaster replica of the Easter Island statues can hold up to 20 lbs of kitty litter and pool equipment.  Your eyes glaze over as you read description after description of things as “charming” “whimsical” “space-saving” and “revolutionary technology.” You marvel at the number of adults who still need scooters and fanny packs, the niche market of suburbanites who want a life-size Sasquatch wine dispenser.  You wish you had a book.

6. Crawling out from Rock Bottom

All of a sudden you wake up.  You’d fallen asleep with the Sky Mall magazine splayed obscenely across your chest when the plane took off.  Your neck is killing you and your foot’s asleep, but beverage service is banging it’s way up the aisle and you look upon it as a beacon of hope. Hope and Diet Coke.  Maybe they’ll have something to read.

7. A Taste of Relief

You chug your drink and then proceed to gnash the ice between your teeth.  You eat 6 packets of pretzels, masticating them furiously.  You read all the nutritional information on the back.  You wish you had something to read, but you’re buoyed by the simple joys of nutrition-less food and caffeinated water.  Perhaps life is worth living.

8. Lettings Others Help You

You think you’ve figured out how to survive this bout of withdrawal.  You turn to your significant other for distraction and entertainment.  He pats you on the head and tells you to go back to sleep.  In response to this unhelpful advice, you proceed to tell him every single thing you just read in the inflight magazine, like how many terminals there are in the Toronto airport and why Louisville is a great place to visit. 

9. The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Just when you finish telling him that famous people always fly with pashminas, there’s an announcement that you’re landing in twenty minutes.  Sweet Jesus you’ll soon be on the ground.  And you know what’s on the ground? BOOKS.  You bounce up and down because you know you can survive twenty minutes.  That’s just 7 minutes of fake napping, 7 minutes of fidgeting and 6 minutes of staring out the window. You can do it! You can survive!

10. Survival

You did it.  You survived your first plane ride without a book, and you lived through that dark, miserable period of withdrawal.  You’re a fighter, a warrior and you’re never, ever, EVER doing that again.  You’ll never be caught without a book.  Snacks and water be damned - as Patrick Henry said, "Give me something to read or give me death!"