Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

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

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Luna Press’ Harvester Series Includes New Collections by Wole Talabi and Nick Woods

wole talabi book

As part of its Harvester Series, a publication programme for collections of old and new stories plus bonus material, the […]

Tade Thompson Wins Arthur C Clarke Award, for Rosewater, the First Novel in His Wormwood Trilogy

tade thompson - rosewater - graph - while reading and walking

The Nigerian writer and psychiatrist Tade Thompson has won the 2019 Arthur C Clarke Award, the UK’s premier honour for […]

In Her Debut Memoir, Bassey Ikpi Deepens Our Understanding of Mental Health by Sharing Her Own Journey

bassey ikpi - graph image - david asumah

In 2004, while on tour with Def Poetry Jam, the Nigerian poet and spoken word artist Bassey Ikpi was diagnosed […]

Wo̩lé S̩óyinká’s Forthcoming Book, His 50th at Age 85, Looks at the Aesthetics, Traditions, & Histories of African Art

wole soyinka - beyond aesthetics

Fresh from celebrations for his 85th birthday days ago, Wo̩lé S̩óyinká has a new book coming. An expansion of his […]

Royal African Society: The UK Home Office Visa Service Discriminating Against Africans

Royal African Society - UK visa (2)

The following is a press release by the Royal African Society.  Home Office Visa Service Discriminating Against Africans “Home Office […]

The Auditory Art of Storytelling in A Small Silence | Reviews by Ainehi

jumoke verissimo a small silence (1)

  A Small Silence is the debut novel by Nigerian poet Jumoke Verissimo. The story is sad, funny, and inspiring […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.