Like him or not, Stephen King has sold more than 350 million books. Many of his novels and short stories have been adapted into movies, TV shows, graphic novels, and comic books. Clearly, he’s doing something right.
I try to be open-minded about a lot of things. Crocs. Wearing camo as a fashion trend. Even beets. But honestly, I don’t understand why people don’t like to read books. I’m just gonna pull my nerd card on this one. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT BOOKS? Let’s face it, the world around us can be enchanting and magical in its own peculiar and predictable way, but sometimes you just need to delve into a little fantasy fictionland to survive.
That being said, I know and love lots of people who don’t read books. Some haven’t read a book since college. Others haven’t read one since high school. Unfortunately, this isn’t a shocking trend among non-booknerds. Research shows that reading takes a steep decline after age eight.
Below are a few of the most common excuses I hear from non-book-lovers. Fortunately, I’m able to debunk all of them.
#1. Reading is boring.
Okay, I understand why someone would think reading is boring. There’s a lot of words and they’re all shoved onto these pages and there’s a lot of pages to flip through and you have to think and stuff. But how “boring” is it—really? Let’s put this in perspective. Is it more boring than, say, loading the dishwasher or folding the laundry? Is it more boring than doing your taxes or sitting through a geometry lecture? I say no. Which brings me to my point: Books allow you to ignore all that truly boring stuff and come off like a really intelligent sponge who has better things to do than housework.
Picture this. You’re on the couch. Your partner asks you to do the dishes. You pick up a copy of Dickens. You say, “I can’t right now—I’m reading.” Booyah. You not only look like the smartest person in the room, you don’t have to do the dishes anymore. Plus, you’ll have a really long book to read for the night you spend on the couch.
#2. I can’t find anything I want to read.
There’s about 50 gazillion books out there and 50 gazillion more being published. Let’s face it, if you can find this book on the Internet, you can find anything. If you want book recommendations, ask your book-loving friends. Or a librarian. Or anyone. Better yet, ask me. I love telling people what to do.
#3. I started XYZ book, and it sucked.
Good news! The Publishing People have published more than one book.
#4. Books are a pain to carry around.
Oh, geez. For real? You can’t shove Gatsby in your bag? It’s, like, five pages long. Okay, okay, so you want to read Lord of the Rings instead. I’ve got two words for you: Kindle and Nook. Actually, that’s three words. Plus you can also read on your iPhone, so it’s four words: Kindle, Nook, and iPhone. Now what you gotta say about that, sucka?
#5. Reading makes me tired.
So? Read and fall asleep. Sounds lovely.
#6. I don’t have time to read.
Finally, an excuse I can get behind. I don’t have much time to read, either. I’ve got Life stuff and Work stuff and Writing stuff and even School stuff. It’s hard. So you know what I do? I shove at least five minutes in there somewhere to read something. Sometimes it’s just a piece of flash fiction or a short story in between work projects. There’s good stuff out there on the Internet, people. It’s not just YouTube videos of Miley Cyrus twerking or the latest Willy Wonka meme. There are stories! Stories galore! Here are some of my favorites. I promise they won’t put you to sleep.
Maybe the Girl, by Rumaan Alam
Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot, by Robert Olen Butler
About Things that are Lost and the Places that Things Get Lost, by Andrea Kneeland
We are the Pretty, by Ryan Rickrode
Through the Flood, Laurel Fantauzzo
Oranges, by Gay Degani
Benjamin Potatohead, by Ella Spencer
Are you wallowing in the back of the room at the 18th Annual Classic Book Club Convention because you aren’t familiar with any of the Big Important Books? Have you been wasting your time away reading genres instead of focusing on Real Literature? Are you feeling left out because you don’t have anything to contribute when your friends chatter on about the cleverness of Dickens, the clarity of Hemingway, or the captivating language of America’s beloved Fitzgerald?
Ah, Mrs. Danvers. Your sneaky and evil ways are so sneaky and evil that Stephen King, master of horror, gave you a shout-out in Bag of Bones. You even have a band named after you. Mrs. Danvers, Mrs. Danvers. You are so conniving that I can’t help but love you.
The intriguing Mrs. Danvers is the head housekeeper and main antagonist of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, a novel set in the magnificent, stately and unsettling estate of Maxim de Winter, a wealthy widow who was once married to the titular character, but now has a new wife (the novel’s unnamed narrator). Mrs. Danvers, ever-faithful to Rebecca, doesn’t take too kindly to the new Mrs. de Winter and sets about to make the woman’s life a living hell.
Perhaps you’re at a similar station in life, wherein you feel the need to psychologically torture the new wife of your cold, wealthy employer as you fuss about in his oversized English mansion. If so, here are a few tips:
When Kristina Perez with the Madeleine Project recently asked me which fictional character I would most like to have coffee with, I named Jane. Why? My answer was simple: Because she’s a bad-ass.
This week marked the annual anniversary of Jane Eyre’s 1847 publication. The book—scandalous in its time—is considered a cornerstone of feminist literature because it shared the interior soul and monologue of a woman. Jane is not a man’s interpretation of woman, and it’s not a one-dimensional ber-blah love story where the woman has few thoughts of her own. Jane is a complex and insightful character who controls her own destiny. Yes, there’s a love story. But it’s much more than that.
Why should you take cues from Jane Eyre on how to be awesome? Here’s why:
Jane says no to co-dependency. She loves Mr. Rochester, yadda yadda yadda, but she knows that she can survive on her own. She has respect, faith and love for herself, and when you have that, you can survive anything alone—even if you don’t want to.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
Jane says yes to inner strength. Jane isn’t good-looking. She isn’t wealthy. She comes from a loveless and difficult childhood. But she perseveres. Jane operates on an unspoken No Pity-Party rule.
“I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”
Jane says play it cool. She feels deeply, but manages to keep it together because she knows that losing your cool doesn’t pay off. You can’t use your head if you don’t have it on your shoulders.
“It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action.”
Jane says get over yourself. Still nursing that slight from four years ago? Jane wouldn’t. She knows that we shouldn’t waste our time worrying about little things.
“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”
Jane says I’m a woman and I can do more than knit. In her words:
“It is narrow-minded to say that (women) ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”
Jane says live with integrity, and you can’t go wrong. Jane is one of the most integrious (I’m pretty sure I just invented that word, but it’s a good one, no?) characters in popular literature. She wants to marry Rochester, but when she finds out he’s already married (sorry for the 166-year-old spoiler), she doesn’t shrug it off or rationalize or decide that it doesn’t really count because he and his wife are emotionally separated. She gets the hell out of dodge so she can move on with her life with her conscience in tact.
“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”
So what are you waiting for? Go forth and be Jane-like.
For other articles on Jane Eyre’s general bad-assery, read this.