She has read too many books, I think to myself as I gaze into the mirror. I can tell, because even though she’s present in the physical sense, she’s miles away, in a story that she vaguely remembers reading twenty years ago.

a woman holding a book in front of her face with the text "She Has Read Too Many Books: A Memoir"

I mean, is there a better way to dissociate? I think not.

As far as book quotes go, there isn’t a quote that resonates with readers more than, “She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.” My brain, personally, was turned decades ago, and it probably happened when I was still in elementary school, reading everything I could get my hands on in the bean bag chair I put in my closet.

Even to this day, there is something about falling into a story. I love when I’ve been reading for a few minutes, and then suddenly, I’ve dropped into another plane of existence. I’m no longer in my physical body and I’ve dropped into the story. I’m dead to the world. (This can be really embarrassing when I’m in a public place. Once I was waiting at a car dealership to get a recalled part replaced, and I was happily reading in the waiting room. Apparently they had to call my name for like a full minute before I even looked up. So that’s cool.)

Basically, what I’m saying here is that reading is a gateway drug. And had I never sought out quiet time by myself as a kid and found it in a book, I probably would be a much more functional adult. But who cares? There are enough functional adults in this world, and some of them are really quite boring.

This is a post for all my friends who have read that book already. So if your memoir could also be titled “She Has Read Too Many Books,” then read on, friends. Read on!

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(Not that I have to encourage you to do it. I know you’re going to.)

Had I never sought out quiet time by myself as a kid and found it in a book, I probably would be a much more functional adult. Click To Tweet

She Has Read Too Many Books

Okay. So. The “she is too fond of books” quote is often grouped in with Little Women quotes, but it’s not! It is from Louisa May Alcott, but it comes from a different book, Work: A Story of Experience.

The story follows Christie as she seeks work during the Civil War. She takes a job working for a family of assholes who are just the biggest grumpy jerks. She’s not allowed to keep the fire in her room lit at night. But one evening, as her employers are returning home after an evening out, they see a fire in her attic room.

Turns out your girl, Christie, was reading by candlelight, fell asleep, accidentally knocked the candle over when she dropped her book, and then part of the room caught on fire. She survives and the house doesn’t burn down. But she’s fired.

And that’s the fond of books meaning I’m after in this post. The type of fond of books that gets you fired. It’s where someone says, “she has read to many books” in a way that lets you know that you don’t belong, and your life will be an uphill climb.

(I mean, any aspect of life that exists outside the pages of books is already too hard, so naturally it’s an uphill climb.)

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While it’s a sad scene for sure, because Christie loses her job, it’s also relatable as hell.

Who amongst us hasn’t read a book at the expense of their well-being? How many nights have you stayed up too late reading? I am notorious for looking down at the page numbers of whatever I’m reading, noticing I only have 170 pages left in the book, and deciding that I can do that in the thirty minutes before I’m meant to go to sleep.

(Dear reader, I cannot. But I keep reading anyway.)

And while I’ve never started a fire in my home while reading, I have burned many a dinner by forgetting I was cooking something because I got lost in the story. I have also been late to Zoom calls and forgotten to do like 90% of my to do list, just because books are a problem.

So yes, dear reader, your girl’s brain is addled. So addled, and I can’t stop.

A Well-Read Woman Is a Dangerous Creature

Now, aside from setting fires, there is a lot of danger in reading. A well-read woman is a dangerous creature.

I’m not talking about to herself, though. I mean, the more you read, the better off you are, and I truly believe that. But to others? You are a genuine problem.

If you have read enough to have context for information, or to recognize a pattern, or just simply call “bullshit,” then you are a danger to those around you who are counting on your inability to do that.

I’m not saying that all the books I’ve read have made me smarter. In fact, some have probably rotted my brain just a smidgen. But in a good way. Like, the way I want it to be rotted. We have to take the sharp edges off the knowledge we paid good money for in college, after all.

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But I am saying that if you can read a book and get lost in a world beyond this one, you have a capacity for thought that a lot of other people don’t have. When I taught a reading enrichment course one summer, that was the goal of the class for the high school students. (For the pre-K kids, it was to know the letters.) We had to keep telling the high schoolers that they could fall into a story, even if they didn’t understand every word on the page. And for some of them, it happened, and the rest slogged through The Fellowship of the Ring.

I’m not saying that it isn’t possible for everyone. But I am saying that some people just don’t want to fall into it.

And while reading that way may be a form of dissociation, it’s a form of self-preservation that not only allows you to recharge, it enables you to see the world from new perspectives. And that is something that everyone should do, but so few people actually do.

Building that empathy muscle is why you’re dangerous. You can see the motivations behind what people do because you’ve seen it in books before. You know what they’re going to do before they do it, and you know exactly how to combat it.

A well-read woman is a dangerous creature. Click To Tweet

Addled? Perhaps.

Boring and bookish? Maybe.

Worldly and dangerous? You bet.

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