Our Reading Lives

10 Biggest Disasters for Any Bookworm

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Blair Carpenter

Staff Writer

Trained as an opera singer, Blair Carpenter has spent her entire life entrenched in financially unstable artistic pursuits. A native of the southern US, she is now a resident of Colorado. Blair can be found watching Bob's Burgers with her dog Edith, dressing as Elsa on the weekends for children's parties, or writing the next Mediocre American Novel. She's terrified of Twitter, so find her on Instagram @blairlovesbooks

You have some free time, and you decide to indulge in your favorite activity: reading. Armed with a new book, adequate lighting, and a place to sit, what could go wrong?

A lot, as it turns out. While reading is a relatively tame past time, it can easily goes wrong. With the constant birth of new ways to experience books, so are born new ways to miss out. Technology giveth, and technology taketh away. Even with good old-fashioned analogue reading, there is no shortage of pitfalls a bibliophile can experience.

If you’re a lifelong bookworm, or even a recent devotee, you’ve probably experienced one of these bone-chilling scenarios. I apologize in advance if you need to sleep with the lights on after this.

Your Audiobook Automatically Returns in the Middle of the Story

You finally made it. After scouring the free apps through your library for the perfect book, comparing narrators, and selecting the perfect play back speed, you’ve finally reached peak audiobook experience. You’ve got the perfect companion on your daily commute for the next 9 1/2 hours. Then one morning you wake up, and it’s gone. Returned. And there’s a wait list. You’re 21st in line. By the time you get the book back, you can’t tell the characters apart anymore and your experience is ruined.

You Lost or Forgot the Charger for Your Ereader

Whether you read on a Kindle, an iPad, a NOOK, your phone, or your laptop, reading an ebook is one of the most convenient forms of narrative consumption. Getting engrossed in the newest John Grisham until 3 AM isn’t exactly great for your battery life, however. Few things are as horrifying as losing battery in the middle of a sentence. Don’t get caught with your pants down; always keep a spare charger on your person.

You Checked Out More Library Books Than You Can Read

Libraries are to bookworms what wedding registries are to terrible people in romcoms. With that little scanner at your disposal, you can truly own the world! Until you check out seven new release books and have to return five of them in a week. Should you risk embarrassingly large library fines? Or can you wait for eight months on the holds list?

You Lost Your Favorite Bookmark

Maybe it is a ticket stub from the first movie you saw with your partner. Perhaps it’s a sterling silver monstrosity you got for your high school graduation. It could just be a really cute one you got on Etsy. Whatever it may look like, we all have a special bookmark we tend to favor over and over, until it mysteriously falls out, never to be seen again. Perhaps you can replace it, but just like your childhood blankie, it will never be truly the same. At least you won’t have to dog ear the pages.

You Read the Spine Off Your Favorite Childhood Book

Some people can read a paperback without even cracking the spine. I regard these people with incomprehensible awe. Not to brag, but I can make a brand new book look 40 years old in a single read. I’m just talented, I guess. But even without my prodigious skill, it’s possible to read a favorite book so many times it literally disintegrates in your hands. Though it’s an honor in a way, it’s still always a little sad when you have to find a new, pristine copy of Matilda to love to death.

You Can’t Find an Edition to Match the Missing Book in a Series

As you follow the breadcrumbs of book recommendations, you discover a new author and fall in love. You eagerly collect their works, scouring thrift shops and library sales to amass your collection. You’ve found all but one! Your collection is nearly complete! But wait, it’s being made into a movie, and the only edition you can find is the one with the movie poster as the cover. You pull out all the stops, scouring eBay as you’ve never scoured before. It’s too late. The only version of the old edition left is $147. You briefly consider springing for it, and then you cave and buy the movie cover for $3 out of a bin at the grocery store. You win this round, Kristen Stewart.

Your Beautiful New Book Won’t Fit on Your Bookshelf

You’ve learned from past mistakes; you’re street smart now. As you wander past your favorite bookshop, you spy a gorgeous new edition of The Color Purple prominently displayed in the window. It’s huge and graphic, with gold foil and a ribbon. It’s practically pornographic. It cannot get away. You spend an embarrassing amount of money on a book you already own, dreaming up all the fabulous flatlays you’ll post to Instagram. You’ve picked out the perfect spot on your shelf. But when you arrive at home, you discover your violet beauty is slightly too tall for your tallest bookshelf. You shove it in awkwardly on the diagonal, and cry yourself to sleep.

You and Your Best Friend Have Disparate Tastes

We all have that one friend. You know, the friend who has, well, horrible taste in books. They know you like to read, and so they want to constantly talk about books with you. The problem is, they are horrified by your fascination with serial killers, and you are secretly judgmental of their affinity for ripped bodices. The best way to solve this conundrum? Find a bodice-ripping murder mystery. Or take up an activity together that doesn’t require talking, like frequenting wind tunnels.

Someone Ruins the Ending of an Amazing Series You Just Started

Anyone who violates the sanctity of a spoiler alert is a sociopath, pure and simple. They don’t care about ruining your life; they just care that they read it first. If this happens to you (and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind technology has not materialized yet) the answer is simple: never speak to that person again. However, if that’s not a possibility, you can always return the favor with a well-timed Avengers spoiler.

You Forgot to Pack a Book on a Long Trip

Anticipating a long journey is one of the bookworm’s greatest pleasures. With a nine hour plane, train, or automobile ride ahead of you, the world is your oyster! The hardest part of picking out books to take on a trip is narrowing it down. Unless, of course, you commit the cardinal sin of forgetting your book. This is especially tragic if you were in the middle of a REALLY good book. At least there’s always the airport gift shop. You can buy the trashy mystery you’re too embarrassed to buy from your local bookshop (they know you there).

Over their lifetime, a bookworm will experience many crises; from cold tea to weak reading light, the hazards are everywhere. If you find yourself in one of the above situations, don’t despair, dear reader. After all, there’s always an unread shampoo bottle somewhere out there.