Books take you to whole new worlds and introduce you to new ideas and life experiences. So, naturally, you’ve got all sorts of thoughts going on while you’re reading. If it’s a really great, horizon-expanding book, you’ll have lots of unique, new-to-you thoughts. But not everything you think while reading is revolutionary. There are some thoughts that go through every book-lover’s mind while reading.
From thoughts about how the author is so brilliant that you kind of want to have her babies to the more mundane thoughts like where you might rank this novel on that ever-changing list of your favorite books, your mind is anything but blank while you’re reading. Frankly, most of us sort of turn into neurotic balls of mush while reading, overidentifying with every character and over analyzing every scene.
Don’t worry, taking a minute while reading The Hunger Games to wonder whether or not you would’ve just killed Peeta in the arena or just stood in place and peed your pants doesn’t make you heartless or weird. Err...or maybe I’m heartless and weird (totally would’ve just ditched poor Peeta btw)?
Well, regardless of how weird or heartless you are, there are definitely some thoughts that every book-lover has every time they open a new book. Don’t worry, these thoughts happen to the best of us.
1. Ooooh! I Should Read That Too!
A really great book makes you want to read other books at the same time. When a character in the book you’re reading references a book or the works of another author you just can’t help yourself, you simply have to run to the store immediately and buy that book and find some way to read both books simultaneously. You really get in trouble when it’s one of those writer’s books where they reference and praise dozens of authors and books.
2. Why Can’t I Read ALL the Books at Once?!
When a good book starts getting ideas going in my head, I just start pulling other books off my bookshelf that are even marginally related to any of those ideas until eventually I’m covered in a massive pile of books, trying not to cry and scream out to the universe — WHYYYY?! WHY CAN’T I JUST READ AAALLL OF THE BOOKS?! Or...Is that just me?
3. Total Freaking Amazement and Wonder at the Pure Genius of the Author
It’s that moment in the book when Samuel Delany introduces the concept of “riding” dragons telepathically, or when James Baldwin is so prophetic you’re fairly certain he time-travelled to the future, wrote it all down, and then went back and published it in 1972, or when George Eliot peers into your damn soul and lays bare the entire human experience in two sentences… And all you can do is just step back from the page and gape like a dragonless, temporally stationary, shallow peon. It’s amazing.
4. If Only the World Really Did Have Dragons...*Sigh*
No, but really. I'm gonna need some dragons. Do better, reality. Do. Better.
4. Ugh, Why Don’t I Know More About the Adaptive Biologies of Stenohaline and Euryhaline Fish to Water of Different Salinity Levels?!
No, seriously. Some character or other drops a reference to something that was popular back when the book was published (maybe salt water fish biology was all the rage in 19th century France). Or, maybe the author forgets for a second that they’re smarter than everyone else (or deliberately wants to prove this). Either way, you wish you knew that random obscure fact so you could be in on the joke/reference/totally insignificant detail.
5. Is This Actually Important Enough to Look It Up?
Speaking of random facts and details, sometimes you stumble upon a word in a language you don’t know, a fancy word you never learned in school, or a obscure reference you don’t get. At these troubling moments, you find yourself wondering, “Is it really worth it to interrupt my reading experience to find my phone/exit the reading app to look this up?” Don’t hate. It’s a real struggle. Sometimes your phone is all the way across the room and you’ve just found the perfect, cozy sitting/book holding position. #ReadersProblems
6. How Does This 18th Century White Dude From Russia Know So Much About Me?
You know when Tolstoy expresses an idea about a character that perfectly captures how you felt about your last boyfriend or some other totally intimate feeling, and you have to pause for a second, and maybe check the book cover again to make sure you’re actually reading a book by an old white dude from Russia and not your journal from last year?
7. Man, I’ve Really Got to Get Around to the Laundry This Weekend
It happens. You’ve settled in with your freshly brewed tea, in that cozy nook of the couch where you’ve worn in the perfect butt indent, and you’re totally immersed in the book. And then (dun, dun, dun) a totally boring passage that goes on and on about the color of the grass or something. Next thing you know you’re listing your weekend chores in your head and you realize you didn’t actually process the last page and half of text you “read."
8. I'm Just Like [Insert Awful, Mean, Completely Flawed Character], and I Deserve to Be Eaten by Dogs!
You don’t really deserve to be eaten by dogs, and somewhere in the back of your mind you know that. But right then, when you’re relating really hard with a character who’s clearly flawed and kind of awful, you kind of feel like the author just told all your biggest secrets.
9. Please, Please, Please Let This Character Get Everything She Wants and More!
Some authors just hate happy endings. These are the authors that rip your heart out by making you fall head over heels in love with a character or identify so wholly with a protagonist and then cruelly snuffing them out or completely ruining their lives. You find yourself holding your breath as you turn the pages still holding out hope that that character (who is so totally like you) will get the guy, win the day, or, you know, just... not be psychologically tortured by heinous troll monsters. .
10. This Relationship Is So Much Like Me and My SO’s… We’re doomed!
Or, sometimes, it’s the other way around. You fall totally in love with the charming Mr. FancyName and you start glaring at your S.O. like they’ve stolen you away from your one true love.
11. I Should Definitely Quit My Job, Travel to Paris, and Drink Until My Liver Falls Out
Authors are dangerous creatures. They can pretty much convince you of anything. After you read Assata by Assata Shakur, you're pretty much convinced you should dedicate your whole life to being a revolutionary. But after you read Hemingway, you start thinking maybe it's a life of permanent intoxication and witty one-liners for you. Read Parable of the Sower and you'll start thinking you'll never be happy in this world unless it's in full-blown apocalypse mode. Luckily, you're book-obsessed, so before you quit your job and try train-hopping the entirety of the United States a la Kerouac, you'll be onto the next book and darn certain you were always meant to be a forensic psychologist for the FBI.
12. OK, I Only Have 70 Pages Left, I can Totally Finish Before 2 a.m.... 4 Hours of Sleep Is Totally Reasonable...
Which closely resembles what you said 40 pages and 2 hours ago. At this point, it’s a lost cause. Just give up on all hope of sleep for the night and resign yourself to having to explain that no, you aren’t in fact a party animal. Your eyes are red because you stayed up all night to finish a book written a century ago… (Also you're welcome for the adorableness of that gif).