1. Books are always ready to be enjoyed and never need to be “won over.” How often do you want to do something fun but none of the great people in your life can get quite as pepped up as you? How often do you find yourself in diplomacy scenarios with your significant other that would make Hilary Clinton blush with pride?
“I’ll hang out with your friends tomorrow if you drop me and Cheryl off at the bar and pick us up when we’re drunk!”
Who the hell wants that in their life?
No one should. A book is always there for you, waiting silently and unassumingly for you to commit your time to it. All it asks for is your attention. It will never make you help your girlfriend’s friend into the back of your car while you try to prevent her puke-stained hair from touching your seats. Also, in contrast to puke, books smell good (it’s ok to admit if you’ve ever buried your nose in one and inhaled deeply).
2. You can shut a book, but you can’t shut up a person (without raising a stir). This is self-evident. A book is as easy to close as it is to open, but sometimes a person can just be so…wordy. Books are wordy, but that’s what we expect from them. We don’t want the people in our lives to talk to us for five minutes about the weather when 10 seconds would have sufficed. If we don’t want to hear about last night’s football game, no amount of brevity will really make that subject interesting. But if you’re not ready to dip back into the magical lands of your book, no one is forcing you to.
3. Books never embarrass us in front of our friends and family. Do you remember the last time someone you care about totally put their foot in their mouth in front of a group of people you care about? Like when your girlfriend thought your grandfather was a Nazi instead of a Holocaust survivor and she made that comment about how funny she thinks yarmulkes are? Yeah, that was awful. Do you remember when your best friend got drunk and started making racial jokes in the most diverse bar in your area, and in front of your Nigerian friend, drawing death stares from all corners of the room? That was awful too.
Do you remember when you got similar death stares for reading Anna Karenina in public? You don’t, because all you got were glances of approval.
4. Books are never late for plans, and books never flake. A book, given that it cannot move itself, is always right where you want it to be when you want it to be there. There is none of the back-and-forth texting that lasts longer than the actual social engagement in question will last.
“Be over at 7.”
“K…wait, I’m running late.”
“7:15 is OK.”
You pick up a book to pass the time, but are distracted by another message:
“Just kidding. My dog threw up. I’ll be over at 7:45.”
There is none of this with a book. The book is already on your lap. You can also eat while you read a book, and you don’t have to be wearing pants.
5. Books are independent. Books have their own lives. They sit on your shelf or on your table or wherever you store your reading devices and just chill. They are the coolest things you probably own.
They don’t require anything, no electricity, no affection, nourishment. They never seek approval. They never make you forfeit your wishes so you can guide them through completely self-imposed problems. They collect dust and that is really all they do on their own. You don’t even have to read them. They are stoic sons of bitches. You can buy them and never use them. Even prostitutes aren’t as stoic.
Eventually, though, because they are so full of character and facts and ideas, they win you over. They beckon you to pick them up and take a peek. But even if you don’t, you’ll never hear them complain.
6. When a book makes you emotional, it’s special. Not to say that our normal emotions are nothing special, but there is a different plane of emotion created by a good read. When we get emotional in real life, it’s usually because something awesome or something shitty happened to us, and it can be really easy to only feel like shitty things happen to us (because this is how self-improving humans usually think). Happiness and joy are great, but it’s no fun to feel sad or depressed or cry because some stupid person didn’t text us back within 12 hours (although, screw them). Why care that one seven billionth of the world isn’t that into you? Why get angry when someone cuts you off in traffic? Why get frustrated that gas went up ten cents? These are all circumstantial things that don’t all really mean that much to us the next day. But when we read a book and can make a complete mental connection to the words on a page, and feel something grow inside of us, that is special.
It’s not transitory happiness or sadness that we’re feeling; it’s a moment of personal growth.