Editor’s Note: In an effort to keep Quirk E. Cat from napping at his desk, we have assigned him to Advice Column duty. We apologize in advance.
Dear Quirk E. Cat,
I’m finding myself in a reading rut. I’m still reaching for my daily dose of literature, but staying focused and allowing myself to get lost in a novel takes so much more concentration these days. I’m all for reading at my own pace, but I’m a library purist and these days I feel like I’m cramming for an exam when I pick up a book. I used to read one or two books a week, but now I’m lucky if I finish a novel before my library’s three-week due date. Any tips for reigniting the flame that once burned for literature? I really don’t want to be fined by the library. I mean, it’s the library. They know me there.
I’ve found that when you’re a cat in a top hat, that image is enough to distract even the most dedicated of librarians. I definitely one hundred percent always check out books from the library. I would never steal them. Never ever. But if I did need a little more time to read a book, I’d silently tell myself that I pay taxes – taxes that fund my library sprees – and I’d hide the book in my coat and return it whenever is most convenient for me.
Okay, I swear my boss has a network of spies watching me because by the time I punctuated that sentence, I was being called into my boss’ office. And now I have to issue a formal correction. Several corrections, actually. Please know that I’m doing this simply to keep my job. The window by my desk is a PURRfect napping spot and I cannot lose that.
Okay, here we go. First of all, apparently I don’t pay taxes. Because I don’t receive an actual real income. All this time I thought my Quirk Books checks were getting lost in the mail, but apparently you don’t actually have to pay a cat. To do anything. So, there goes my entire premise. I also have to confess that I don’t own a coat. And I’ve never actually been inside a library. But I’ve seen both The Music Man and The Mummy, so I feel like I have at least a cursory-level knowledge of the subject. My boss, apparently, disagrees and has given me some information to pass along.
First things first: breathe. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Read when you feel like reading. Indulge in a meaty TV show or listen to a bunch of podcasts while you color or dance around in your living room to your favorite song. The book will still be there when you’re ready for it. Reading is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. It’s a hobby, it’s an indulgence, it’s relaxing, it’s empathy building. It’s whatever you need it to be. And the last thing you need it to be is stressful.
Now I need you to remember this: library fines aren’t the end of the world. I know it might feel that way because you’re being penalized for missing a deadline, but most library fines max out at twenty-five cents a day. You can’t buy anything with twenty-five cents these days. Except for twenty-four additional hours of pure blissed out reading time. If that cost benefit analysis isn’t enough to quell your fears, think of it as a donation to your library. Like tipping your librarian. Which, by the way, why isn’t that already a thing?
FUR the record, I cosign all of this. In case you were wondering. You were totally wondering, right?
When all is said and done, remember this: reading ruts are okay. They’re totally a hundred percent okay. And this one will pass. They always do.
Quirk E. Cat