I was texting my friend Cat Woman last night, and since her life is in crisis at the moment, the conversation turned to shrinks and happy pills. I myself am a firm believer in just ignoring problems until they go away, and imbibing copious amounts of alcohol to aid that process. Luckily, most of the normal world, (including Cat Woman) does not share this belief, otherwise we’d be a planet filled with angsty drunkards.
Anyhoo, when Cat Woman offered selling me some Xanax at fifty dollars a pop to better cope with my ignored issues, I refused profusely, stating what a large number of books fifty dollars would buy me. She then asked an interesting question: What can a book do that Xanax cannot?
Well. You Book People out there already know. Clearly, my pal is not one. So, to quote my favorite character Inigo Montoya in the greatest movie of all time The Princess Bride: “Let me ‘splain. No no. There is too much. Let me sum up.”
A book has no adverse side effects. Sure, if you read a sad one, you may shed a tear and suffer post-reading depression, (this has happened to me after reading Where the Red Fern Grows, yet I’ve read it again and again.) but you have no worries of urinating less than usual or not at all, or becoming jaundiced or twerking unintentionally. (All possible side effects of Xanax.)
A book will calm you down. I am aware that Xanax is meant to do the same thing. However! A book may also excite you, or anger you, or frighten you! I’m not going to go through all the other emotions, because, well, we’re not in the third grade here. But you get the point.
A book may cost you fifty dollars a pop, but generally those are only those pretentious coffee table books not many people look at anyway. Yes, ok, if you are like me, you may find yourself spending fifty dollars every time you exit a bookstore, (a used one, it is hoped) but what do you have to show for it? At least twenty-four hours of reading, and after it wears off, you have the memory of what you just read, instead of the anticipation of an anxiety attack until you read another.
Depending on the book, the use of one will not cause controversy with other people who don’t believe in Western medicine. Not that we’re trying to keep Eastern doctors in our good graces here, but you know, it couldn’t hurt.
A book will distract you from your problems. Sure, Xanax will do the same thing, but only temporarily, and when you are done with it, there is no plethora of knowledge swimming around in your skull. If you find yourself sinking down into the depths of despair because the euphoria of finishing a book has worn off, read another. And incidentally, there is a whole Self-Help genre that will probably do the same thing Xanax will.
Well, there you have it. I may not be your first choice for the debate team, but I think I got my point across.
P.S. If you really think you’ve got it bad, read a book about the Holocaust. Then you might think to yourself, “Hey, at least I don’t have to stand in the sun for thirty-six hours before some Nazis gas me and my kids.