Being an avid reader involves a certain suspension of disbelief. You have to be able to snuggle up in your favorite chair and believe that you're actually in Narnia, or on a pirate ship, or in a 19th century French brothel. You have to be able to ignore the outside world, and pretend that you can't hear your roommate/mom/boyfriend/cat whining at you while you escape into a totally different universe. That's the magic of reading: it makes us all really, really good at lying to ourselves.
Now, I'm not saying that all readers are pathological liars (that's writers). I'm just saying that, while reading is the best hobby there is, all book lovers indulge in the occasional lie. I mean, usually it's a white lie, like when you tell yourself that ignoring your library fines will make them go away. Or when you tell yourself that you're going to give away some of your books to make room on your shelves (sure you are). Or when you look straight into someone's eyes and tell them that a certain book is on your reading list (when you know that you are never going to get around to reading The Count of Monte Cristo, and you've accepted that about yourself).
All of us readers lie, whether we're reading fiction, nonfiction, or something in between. If you love books, you're guilty of telling at least one of these lies:
1. Yes, I've Read That!
Look. This is a place of no judgement. Let's all just come clean and admit that we've all lied about having read a book at least once in our lives. I'm not saying that we all walk around falsely claiming to have read Finnegan's Wake. But there's always that one book that you read most of, or that you've read a lot about, or that your friend/teacher/significant other told you to read. You've basically read it. You just haven't... literally... read it. At least not all of it. Whoops.
2. Oh, I've Read Most of That
This is the gentler version of the "I've read that" lie. When you, a reader, tell another reader, "Oh, I've read most of that," or "I've read parts of that," or "I read it such a long time ago," we all know what's really going on. We all know that you didn't really read The Lovely Bones. It's ok. Every reader has that book that's been on their "To Read" list for so long that it basically feels like you've read it. Like how if a shirt's been in the dirty laundry hamper for over a week, it feels like it's magically become clean again.
3. I'm Almost Finished!
Your friend lent your their Faulkner book about eight months ago. So long ago, in fact, that you've forgotten which Faulkner book it is. And you were totally going to read it. It's just that you had to read all of A Song of Ice and Fire first. And you had to reread Good Omens again. And most of Harry Potter. But when your friend asks for their book back, you say, "Oh yeah, I'm almost finished!" and then quickly change the subject before they ask you for a plot summary.
4. I Have Other Plans Tonight
"Yes, I have other plans. Other plans with real, human people. I'm definitely not planning to sit in my bathtub with a glass of red wine and read an Augusten Burroughs book all night. That is absolutely not the reason that I can't make it to see you DJ at that party. Just to reiterate, I will be hanging out with other young, non-fictional people tonight and not, under any circumstances, sitting at home and reading in the tub. Just so that's clear."
5. I'm, Um... Reading This as a Joke
Book lovers are, on the whole, a lovely people. And book lovers are, mostly, accepting of all genres. But we've all encountered the occasional Literary Snob. They might think that it's trashy for an adult to read about sexy vampires, or they might think it's pretentious that you're genuinely enjoying Infinite Jest. Either way, we've all fallen prey to the Literary Snob, and we've all toned down our enthusiasm for beloved books for fear of being judged. (And then we apologized to our beloved books as soon as the snob was out of sight).
6. I Would Never Judge a Book by Its Cover!
We know that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover. We know that we shouldn't judge people by their choice in books. And yet... look, we've all turned up our noses at a book with a tacky film tie-in cover once in our lives. And we've all totally judged someone for saying that Nicholas Sparks is their favorite author. As much as we tell ourselves that we're above it all... we're all a little bit guilty of being Literary Snobs. Just sometimes.
7. I'll Just Buy One!
The problem with buying books is that you need to have enough money left over for lesser things, like food and rent. So you tell yourself that you'll just buy one book on this trip to the bookstore. Or that you'll wait until that shiny new read from your favorite author comes out in paperback. But then, inevitably, you find a used book sale with killer deals, or a new hardcover comes out that you just have to have, or you want to buy that sad secondhand book that no one else is ever going to buy — and pretty soon you're bankrupt and living in a hut made out of books.
8. This Shelf Can Definitely Fit One More Book
You know that the shelf cannot fit one more book. You can see, with your eyes, that the bookshelf is full. And yet, you tell yourself that the shelf can, indeed, fit one more book (the same way you told yourself that you would get a Kindle so that you'd stop having this shelf space drama). So you proceed to jam your poor book in to the shelf, or even to double shelf your books by sneaking some extra books behind the row. That, or small stacks of feral books begin to roam the floors of your room. Time to give some books away.
9. I Can’t Give This One Away — I Might Reread It
Look, I don't know your life. Maybe you will reread all those Animorph books one day. Or maybe you, like most book lovers, can't bear the thought of parting with a beloved book, even if you know you'll never read it again. Because as much as we all loved Goosebumps and that series about the warrior cats when we were growing up... there's a slight chance that your reading tastes have changed since then.
10. I'll Just Dog-Ear a Page This Once and Never Again
We want to be kind to our books. We tell ourselves that we're only going to dog-ear a page this ONE TIME, until we can locate the proper bookmarking equipment. And we promise our books that we will never EVER leave them splayed out, or break their spines, or jot down notes in their margins — but sometimes emergencies arise, and we forget all of our book etiquette. We're sorry, books, we really are.
11. Just One More Chapter...
And here it is, the crown jewel of lies that readers tell themselves. "I'll just read one more chapter... and then bed!" But we all know that's not true, now, is it? Because inevitably there will be some kind of twist, or our favorite character will be in danger, or we'll just need to know what happens next. And then all of a sudden it's five in the morning and we're still reading. But what are we supposed to do? Not obsessively read everything we can get our hands on? That hardly feels realistic. Better to just lie to ourselves and take naps throughout the day, and then marathon our favorite books all night long.
Images: Fotolia, Giphy (11)