“An eight-year-old Canadian girl has been asked to stop reading books on the school bus, after the driver told her that it could be harmful to other kids…. The bus driver claims that other students might want to see what she is reading and stand up or that she might get hurt herself if the corner of the book pokes her in the eye.”
Are you reading this?
Oh, no. I was hoping you wouldn’t be.
Please, stop. Before someone gets hurt. Before everyone gets hurt.
You may not realize it, but 94% of all injuries result from reading. How do I know? I read it somewhere. Or at least I started to, but then I got a paper cut and had to stop. So I might not have gotten through the entire statistic.
But it sounds pretty accurate to me. After all, books are hard, and heavy. They hurt, if you drop them on your foot, suddenly, after being warned how dangerous they can be. The number one cause of hospital admissions is books being dropped on feet, or at least that’s what I think it must say, somewhere, if only I was brave enough to read it.
And it’s not just about dropping them. Paper is the most common source of bacteria, according to something I’m sure I would have read if I wasn’t so concerned about my health. You don’t know who touched a book before you, and what germs they’re spreading. You know the kinds of people who spend time in bookstores — either reckless, risk-taking individuals, the type you certainly wouldn’t want influencing your children, or, even worse, the grimy and diseased, who hole up and read in the aisles, infecting everyone who comes their way. And yet, every time you turn a page, there they are, everyone who’s ever touched that book before you, basically putting his fingers in your mouth. Most of these folks are dead, probably, or at least intractably sick, all from their foolhardy reading.
Then there’s the fact that a book in the wrong person’s hands is almost as dangerous as a gun, if you don’t consider the bullets or the barrel. You may think that the book you’re reading about self-defense is going to protect you, but suppose someone grabs it from your hands and attacks you with it, before you get to the part about defending yourself from a book snatcher who beats people with their own books — if the book you’re reading even has such a section at all, which it probably doesn’t, because the author doesn’t want to discourage people from buying these lethal weapons he’s peddling. What are you going to do in such a situation, besides regret picking up that book in the first place and seeing your life of dangerous word-reading flash before your eyes?
Every war since the printing press was invented — by the dreaded Gutenberg Killer –started because someone read something, or at least that sounds plausible enough given that I’m too frightened to try to read a history book. “War and Peace?” That’s the name of a book, I think. And I bet it’s mostly about the war part.
You heard the phrase “curiosity killed the cat?” It was curiosity about reading, I’m sure, even though cats claim they can’t even read! And “the pen is mightier than the sword?” That’s a pretty powerful statement about the danger lurking in the written word, to say nothing of the read word. How about “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?” They also shouldn’t throw books. But they can. And they almost certainly will! Besides, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” So who needs books, anyway?
Point is, if you’ve read this far, you’ve been risking your life — more and more with every passing word, including these words, especially these words, and, hey, these words too. Amazing that someone hasn’t taken advantage of your distraction and bookwhacked you already. Truth is, the only thing more dangerous than reading is writing. Why? Because inevitably you have to be reading while you’re writing, and that kind of reading takes longer than regular reading, where the words are already there and all you have to do is accept them and their dangerous reality. Which is why I should finish this up now, before I get impaled by my pen or, as happens to over 75% of writers, based on a study I may have surreptitiously read something about but am too terrified to admit, I just suddenly vaporize in the middle of a
Read more from Jeremy Blachman at– wait, actually, you probably shouldn’t.