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Reasons I Didn’t Finish the Book You Loaned Me

Alex Acks

Contributing Editor

Alex Acks is a writer, geologist, and sharp-dressed sir. They've written for Six to Start and been published in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, and more. Alex lives in Denver with their two furry little bastards, where they twirl their mustache, watch movies, and bike. Twitter: @katsudonburi Website:

My dearest friend,

Thank you so much for lending me that book. Or not so much loaning it to me as pressing it into my hands with the flame of righteous proselytization kindled in your eye, and then when I “forgot” it on the coffee table, breaking into my house and leaving it sitting on my bed like a literary horse’s head.

I had thought to just slip the book back into your shelves unnoticed, but then you caught me and gave me that comprehensive quiz (100 questions, really?) on the book and I had to come clean: It is with heavy heart I must inform you that I just have run out of time and I couldn’t possibly keep this book any longer, since you love it so much. Please take it back.

There were a lot of factors that prevented me from cracking open this book and turning the pages in a timely fashion. Because I’m sure if I’d just gotten started with it, I would have run through it like poop through a goose. Really, I promise. Please stop smiling at me like that. Here, I’ve written them all out for you to see:

  1. It’s been very busy at work. I’ve had to read so many emails that the thought of even more text just isn’t something I can bear most nights, which is why I only mess with Facebook on my phone and have been bugging you on iMessage.
  2. Look, I know you’re watching Master Chef too. It’s not just me.
  3. I can no longer read books on public transit unless they’re audiobooks because my inner ear has spontaneously decided that it hates me, and more importantly, that it hates the written word and quite possibly truth, justice, and apple pie as well.
  4. My cat decided the book was his new favorite bed. You wouldn’t want me to disturb my cat, would you?
  5. I had several library books that I needed to get read before I could get to your book, and I’m out of renewals so it’s crunch time, baby.
  6. I took it along on my last camping trip, but right when I was about to get past the title page I was forced to exit, pursued by a bear.
  7. These baseboards were not going to paint themselves and I didn’t want to get satin finish fulvous all over these pages.
  8. I finally had a chance to open the book while taking a walk, at which point I promptly fell into an open sewer trench while crossing the street and died. Okay. I didn’t die, but I wanted to die of embarrassment.
  9. I have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada.
  10. My own To Be Read pile is so immense, it’s taken over half the rooms in my house. Astronauts can see it from the International Space Station. It’s interfering with low-flying aircraft. I really need to get this under control, and I will, right after I get back from the bookstore.

Yes, okay, fine. Those were all excuses. You’ve caught me. I’ll come clean.

Look, I’ve faithfully read all of the books you’ve insisted on loaning me before, even when they definitely weren’t My Kind Of Book. And I either enjoyed them or at least pretended to enjoy them with reasonable verisimilitude because I treasure our friendship. But this time you’ve gone too far. You found the book that’s my polar opposite and put it into my hands, and it’s only the miracle of having Overdrive access and too many app games that’s kept us from eliminating each other in a burst of radiant energy like a matter/antimatter explosion.

It’s just not going to happen, so please take back your book. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me this one time. Because I have this book you seriously need to read, right now.