Ms. paper (2)

Dear Ms. Paper:

Libraries are strange places. They make me nervous. I see these towering shelves stuffed with books and think of how little I’ve read. My heart begins to pound. My palms get sweaty. And those librarians. They look to me like creatures of an underworld. Why do I feel this way? Is there something wrong with me?

***

Dear Reader:

Libraries are strange places. No doubt about that. The silence is oppressive and unnatural. The rows of books can sometimes make the room feel like a mind-bending maze. When there are high ceilings, it feels a bit vertiginous. When the windows are big and bright, the place feels exposed and sterile. If there are no windows, the room feels airless and dingy. The seats are hard, wooden, skeletal things. And dusty books are romantic only in fiction. In real life, they give you sneezing fits. And yes, libraries can have a crushingly humbling effect on readers. It can trigger insecurities about not having read enough.

There have also be rumors of books in libraries coming to life at night and getting up to no good. If you doubt me, read Helen Oyeyemi’s story titled “Books and Roses:”

A library at night is full of sounds: the unread books can’t stand it any longer and announce their content, some boasting, some shy, some devious.

All of this is just to say that you are not alone. Now that we’ve come to the conclusion that libraries are questionable places, here is my advice to you: avoid libraries! Why do you need to go inside one any way? Buy books online and read them in the comfort of your couch.

One more thing. Why do you get worked up at the thought of not having read everything in the world? A multitude of books should not be a source of anxiety but a delight. It means you get to pick and choose from an expansive list of things and says nothing about how great a reader you are. Since there is a special place for readers in Heaven, there is time enough in the afterlife for you to read every book ever published. Until then, follow your taste and interests. Read what you want when you can. Encountering books should be a low-pressure kind of event, fun and titillating, not the cause of panic attacks.

 

Sincerely,

Ms. Paper

 

*************

Title: What is Not Yours is Not Yours.

Author: Helen Oyeyemi

Buy: Amazon

 

 

*************

#DearMsPaper is a fictional agony-aunt series that parodies readers, critics, and writers in the African literary scene. If you have specific questions you’d like me to address, send to brittlepaper@gmail.com.

To read more #DearMsPaper posts: click here.

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

Brittle Paper Anniversary Event: Un-Silencing Queer Nigeria | A Conversation on Facebook

Untitled design (7)

On August 1, 2017, Brittle Paper will be seven years old. To mark our anniversary, we are organising a series […]

PHOTOS | Magunga Williams Compares Kenyan Politicians to Game of Thrones Characters

20247893_10207626548222388_7142195019950148025_o

Two weeks before Kenya votes for a new president, online bookseller and blogger William Magunga has caused wild excitement by […]

New-Generation African Poets 2017 Box Set Featured in Vogue Magazine

apbf

African Poetry Book Fund’s New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Nne) has been featured in Vogue magazine. The feature, […]

Wole Soyinka’s Poem for the Late Literary Scholar Abiola Irele

abiola irele 2

Professor Abiola Irele passed on earlier this month at the age of 81. Born in 1936, the late critic was […]

Tomi Adeyemi’s Million Dollar Book and Movie Deal | All the Scoop + Publication Date

tomi adeyemi children of blood and bones (1)

Harvard graduate Tomi Adeyemi reportedly scored a million-dollar book + movie deal for her young adult trilogy. Her website confirms […]

The 2017 Babishai Haiku Award Shortlist

Poetry Logo

Seventeen poets have been named on the 2017 Babishai Haiku Award shortlist. The award is an initiative of the Babishai-Niwe Poetry […]