A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I am a Literature Abuser!

"It's funny because it's true-" my answers are in green.


How many of these apply to you?

1. I have read fiction when I was depressed, or to cheer myself up.
Yes, of course. It's healthier than binging on chocolate, isn't it?
2. I have gone on reading binges of an entire book or more in a day.
Well, yes. I read the most recent Harry Potter book in about 2 days. Didn't you?
3. I read rapidly, often 'gulping' chapters.
Sometimes. When I was younger, I would "ration" the chapters out so that I could prolong the pleasure of reading a favorite book. I would force myself to read only 3 chapters a day of a book.
4. I have sometimes read early in the morning or before work.
Only in the past. Now that time is taken up by the internet.
5. I have hidden books in different places to sneak a chapter without being seen.
No, not really.
6. Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to read novels.
Sometimes. Don't we all have days when we'd rather be reading than making small talk?
7. Sometimes I re-write film or television dialog as the characters speak.
No, but I do make fun of bad dialog- does that count?
8. I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a book nearby.
Not true.
9. At a party, I will often slip off unnoticed to read.
Now we're getting silly!
10. Reading has made me seek haunts and companions which I would otherwise avoid.
No, but I like the way this is worded. I picture someone reading in a seedy pub, surrounded by Opium eaters.
11. I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I have finished a novel.
12. I have spent money meant for necessities on books instead.
Some would argue that books are necessities!
13. I have attempted to check out more library books than permitted.
I only patronize libraries that allow unlimited access.
14. Most of my friends are heavy fiction readers.
Somewhat true.
15. I have sometimes passed out from a night of heavy reading.
No, but if that's a dare, I'm up to the challenge!
16. I have suffered 'blackouts' or memory loss from a bout of reading.
No, but I think there should be special credit for people who can remember the plots of novels better than history.
17. I have wept, become angry or irrational because of something I read.
Yes. They may kick me out of grad school for saying this, but I cried when Jo died in Bleak House.
18. I have sometimes wished I did not read so much.
Nope, can't say I have. I have wished that there were more hours in the day for reading, though.
19. Sometimes I think my reading is out of control.
Out of control? Certainly not! I can quit at any time.

If you answered 'yes' to three or more of these questions, you may be a literature abuser. Affirmative responses to five or more indicates a serious problem. Once a relatively rare disorder, Literature Abuse, or LA, has risen to new levels due to the accessibility of higher education and increased college enrollment since the end of the Second World War. The Number of literature abusers is currently at record levels.

Abusers become withdrawn, uninterested in society or normal relationships. They fantasize, creating alternative worlds to occupy, to the neglect of friends and family. In severe cases they develop bad posture from reading in awkward positions or carrying heavy book bags. In the worst instances, they become cranky reference librarians in small towns.


Recent Harvard studies have established that heredity plays a considerable role in determining whether a person will become an abuser of literature. Most abusers have at least one parent who abused literature, often beginning at an early age and progressing into adulthood. Many spouses of an abuser become abusers themselves.


Fathers or mothers who are English teachers, librarians, professors, or heavy fiction readers; parents who do not encourage children to play games, participate in healthy sports, or watch television in the evening.


Pre-marital screening and counseling, referral to adoption agencies in order to break the chain of abuse. Librarians and English teachers in particular should seek partners active in other fields. Children should be encouraged to seek physical activity and to avoid isolation and morbid introspection.


Within the sordid world of literature abuse, the lowest circle belongs to those sufferers who have thrown their lives and hopes away to study literature in our colleges. Parents should look for signs that their children are taking the wrong path--don't expect your teenager to approach you and say, "I can't stop reading Spenser." By the time you visit his dorm room and find the secret stash of the Paris Review, it may already be too late. What to do if you suspect your child is becoming an English major:

1. Talk to your child in a loving way. Show your concern. Let her know you won't abandon her--but that you aren't spending a hundred grand to put her through Stanford so she can clerk at Waldenbooks, either. But remember that she may not be able to make a decision without help; perhaps she has just finished Madame Bovary and is dying of arsenic poisoning.

2. Face the issue: Tell her what you know, and how: "I found this book in your purse. How long has this been going on?" Ask the hard question--Who is this Count Vronsky?

3. Show her another way. Move the television set into her room. Introduce her to frat boys.

4. Do what you have to do. Tear up her library card. Make her stop signing her letters as 'Emma.' Force her to take a math class, or minor in Spanish. Transfer her to a Florida college.
You may be dealing with a life-threatening problem if one or more of the following applies:

* She can tell you how and when Thomas Chatterton died.
* She names one or more of her cats after a Romantic poet.
* Next to her bed is a picture of: Lord Byron, Virginia Woolf, Faulkner or any scene from the Lake District.

Most importantly, remember, you are not alone. To seek help for yourself or someone you love, contact the nearest chapter of the American Literature Abuse Society, or look under ALAS in your telephone directory.


Blogger Kevin Jones said...

So is "literary fiction" the designer drug of choice for wealthy abusers, while something like The Da Vinci Code is crystal meth for the rabble?

1:35 AM  

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