The Brink

When I’m uncertain about my career or my personal life, books have always shown me the way. A dazzling novel about bread or a non-fiction tome all about nuclear physics will never fail to soothe me, even when it feels like my career has gone sideways or my love life has exploded into a million irreparable pieces.

It doesn’t matter how bad I feel. Every time a great book will slap me awake, lock things down, recalculate all my emotions, show me everything I’ve missed. My nerves will calm, my diet will slowly improve, and the screaming vortex of anxious ghouls living inside my head will back off for a moment or two.

I always forget this so here’s a reminder for the future: books are always the answer when things suck.

Sad? Go read a book. Alone? Read a book. Feeling dumb? Depressed? Career-stalled? Home-sick? Love-struck? Books, books, books. Try a novel, or a children’s book, or a saucy book about horny elves, or a Serious Document about Serious Things. Try a .pdf! Read a few pages and if it doesn’t work, throw it away. Pick up the next book, try that. Keep going until you can hear the words in the book over the howling vortex of anxious ghouls.

Discard books at your pleasure and with ease, lay waste to whole authors and styles and genres of writing if it doesn’t suit you right this very moment. Be polyamorous with your reading and hurl books into the ocean if they have a single annoying sentence in them as there’s not enough time to fight through a book that isn’t immediately comfortable and warm and light. Be Caligula in your reading; sip books briefly, quickly, and then let whole vineyards spoil if that’s your fancy.

Read for joy and joy alone. That’s always the answer.