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How to lose four months in eight simple steps

A few books can really round out your procrastination game. (Photo by Stewart Butterfield via
A few books can really round out your procrastination game. (Photo by Stewart Butterfield via

It’s now October. The leaves are still on the trees, the sun occasionally peers out from behind clouds carrying days of torrential rain, and professors are already awaiting several assignments from wayward students, perhaps lost in the foliage. But you’re not one of these, right? You don’t have midterms coming up, do you? All the papers are in, and early too. Relax now, grab a drink, and kick back—go and get caught up on that Game of Thrones show everyone’s been talking about.

Suddenly, out of nowhere—the urge to open a book arises. In an effort to avoid it (and the procrastination that accompanies it), steer away from libraries and bookshops at all cost, and please go so far as to not even venture near Value Village (your Halloween costume will look bad no matter what, I promise).

What’s that? The urge came back? Then stop reading passing signage, which is usually ignored in an attempt to feign illiteracy (they say it’s the ‘cool’ thing to do these days). Also, make an effort to reduce your name to just two letters—bonus points if they sound like an actual nickname and not an acronym stolen from a corporation or activist group.

Still not working? So sorry to inform you that your efforts to avoid any intellectually stimulating, procrastination-worthy activities have been a failure. Guess there’s nothing for it; you’ll just have to read. But don’t worry—there’s plenty you can read while procrastinating.

The I-Care-What-People-Think-About-Me Book:

It’s on Oprah’s best-books list, or maybe it’s on Heather’s. Who cares? Everyone’s reading it, and everyone says it’s the best thing since—well, since the last thing on the list.  It’s got everything you need to feel complete: a sad story about a sad person who just can’t seem to figure everything out. Perfect. Pull out the boxes of tissues, and put Oprah on in the background. This one’s gonna be a tear-jerker.

I recommend: I avoid this aisle of the book store like the plague. Ask Heather!

Solution: My personal favourites include A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, and The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Nobel Prize Winners for Literature also tend to fall in this category. A good book that doesn’t quite make this list, as it is a foreign title, is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

The I-Couldn’t-Give-A-Fuck Book:

The opposite to the “I-Care” Book, this book has no title, or spine even. It’s just a loose booklet, stapled together awkwardly. Maybe it’s fan fiction? Maybe it’s the next literary genius, only (weirdly) unpublished? But—you shouldn’t care. No one gives a fuck.

I recommend: Type in a random word on Google. Hit “I’m feeling lucky.” Print.

Solution: Though I personally dislike e-books and e-readers, there’s a lot of undervalued literature being written and published (for cheap, or free, even!) online these days. As a bonus, some professors publish their work on websites for free, too. And let’s not forget “Project Gutenberg” which has a vast collection of books that are out of copyright—from the classics to strange treatises on obscure subjects.

The Reading-In-Public-Is-Bad-Taste Book:

Fifty Shades of Grey.

I recommend: Consider purchasing an e-reader. Also, several types of therapy. I’d suggest learning the basics of English prose, the ABCs of a safe and healthy relationship, and every other book in the smut/erotica/romance section at your local bookstore.

Solution: Talk to someone at your local bookshop about what makes good erotica, or do a casual search online (with rather specific search terms, I’d suggest—or else you may get a lot more than you bargained for). There’s a lot of stuff out there that’s an eff-ton better than a book that was once Twilight fan fiction.

The I-Want-Everyone-To-Know-How-Clever-I-Am Book:

It’s got an “ism” on the title, and rambles incoherently about a foreign philosophy for five hundred pages. You can’t put it down, though. That would be seen as a sign of weakness—at which point you will be at the mercy of the packs of roaming philosophy students who will attack you while you are lost in your haze of unknowing.

Continue to read the same line three times in a row. We won’t judge. Much.

I recommend:  A book with the most indecipherable title you can find. Make sure it references at least two isms and is written by four different ists. And don’t forget—the book cover’s graphics should be geometric and modern. You’ll look smarter that way.

Solution: With these books, half the appearance of looking clever is being seen deliberating over which one you should pick up. Good luck!

The Written-Before-The-Printing-Press Book:

It’s in Greek—or is that Ancient Hebrew? They both look the same. You’ve slaved away over both languages and now, well now you can finally settle down and read one for leisure. Hello, migraine.

I recommend: I hear Plato’s good for some recreational reading.

Solution: Read some of the great literary works instead (e.g. Euripides’ The Bacchae) and enjoy mocking how badly mangled the translations are.

The Same-Old-Escapist-Storyline Book:

They say that being a nerd is the “cool” thing to do these days, but you can’t make heads or tails of why on earth anyone would want to read about a dragon—on a spaceship, no less. And werewolves and vampires battling for domination over the same territory? You’re not going to be able to face your friends again, after this.

I recommend: Concentrating really hard. They say that’s how you grow imagination. Alternately, go back in time and read Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Diana Wynne Jones as a child. If neither of these work, give yourself up as a lost cause.

Solution: Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn.

The Twelve-Years-Old-Twelve-Year-Old Book:

It’s badly duct-taped together, making it a mystery as to whether you’ve actually read it so often that it’s falling apart or you’re simply trying (and failing) to hide the title. This book harkens back to the olden days of pre-pubescence—when badly written upper-class cliques and teenage werewolves were all the rage. The desperate hope is that no one knows it’s so far below your reading level that it almost had pictures.

I recommend: Pretending you’re twelve again—it will also help you forget that late assignment much more easily.

Solution: Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci series, Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy.

The Picture-Book-That-Isn’t-A-Picture-Book Book:

It’s a comic strip—no, it’s a graphic novel. No, wait, let’s call it a comic graphic novel. We don’t want to offend anyone, do we? This is not a picture book. Well, it’s got pictures. But they’re art, and there’s plot…and characters that aren’t rabbits. With pictures.

I recommend: Actually, pick one of these up. They’re great.

Solution: Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman and Coraline, Mike Carey’s Unwritten, Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Alan Moore’s Watchmen and V for Vendetta, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira.

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