Books: Gateways To Happiness (and/or Rage)

The other day I undertook a task that ended up producing mammoth amounts of stress and frustration. I won’t point fingers, but it involved my computer and a certain software corporation forcing me to upgrade to its newest version and subsequently rendering me incapable of connecting to the internet. (Factoid about me: being unable to connect to the internet is the #1 thing that will send me into a Hulk-like fury in less than three seconds flat. (And lest you think I’m just being whiny, I’m talking about internet for the purposes of work that I really needed to get done, not for wasting endless hours on social media. (Although let’s face it, those tweets aren’t going to retweet themselves. )))

And so most of the hours of one rainy, insanity-inducing Saturday were spent in the following endless loop:

1. try to fix the internet
2. grunt in frustration
3. fail to fix the internet
4. denounce the entire project and leave the office
5. crawl back into the office to try just one more thing
6. pound the mouse against the wall
7. strangle the speakers
8. stab the keyboard with nearby writing implements
9. have one more brilliant idea
10. somehow make the computer worse
11. have an aneurysm
12. yell at the top of my lungs a series of filthy insults about my computer’s mother
13. repeat

Finally I hurled everything out the window and began the lengthy but necessary process of stewing angrily in every room in the house. When I got to my bedroom I glanced at the book I was reading on my nightstand, and decided that it was literally the only thing in the world that would make me not want to punch a hole through the wall. So I began to read.

As per usual, the stress melted away. Books always do that for me. Something about words on a page — words that are there, permanently, without risk of disappearing because of a faulty router or a firmware upgrade or GOD DAMN YOU DNS SERVER WHY AREN’T YOU DOING THE THING YOU WERE SPECIFICALLY BUILT TO DO —

Words calm me. Is all I’m saying.

On the other hand, books sometimes make it worse. Luckily I am enjoying the book I’m currently reading, and its pages did not send me into even more violent fits of madness. But if the book that I am reading is exactly the wrong fit for me and every chapter just makes me loathe it more, then reading stresses me out WAYYY more than it should. It puts me in a bad mood for the entire week. I snap and glare angrily at people, as if it is their fault that they made me read it. Or maybe it’s their fault that it got written in the first place! Somehow!

Does this happen to anyone else? Do you let the book you’re currently reading dictate your mood? I feel like that’s a nice case to be made for books in general — that they’re so important to you that they can manipulate your emotions and well-being in general — but another part of me thinks that’s maybe not so healthy. Then again, it’s probably better for books to hijack my mind than internet browsers that don’t work. Why you gotta make me hate dinosaurs, computer? Why would you do that to me?


The moral of the story is: rather than tinkering with Things That Best Not Be Tinkered With By Technology-Befuddled Idiots, just wait until someone wiser and more adept (say, a software engineer husband, or the like) comes home and sets things right. Until then, read a book.



  1. Same thing happens to me. Same internet thing. Fairly similar reaction. And also the books. Yes, if a book is disappointing or frustrating it can seriously affect my mood the whole time I’m reading. Particularly if it’s a book I have to read in order to review for something important like a library journal or a librarian consortium group -_- Then it makes me even more stressed because I HAVE to finish the frustrating and annoying book and then I have to even put my thoughts about it into actual words! Ugh! How dare these books affect us so deeply :D

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