Advice from a Book: 5 Gruesome Ways to Die

My dear Libris,

You are young and fresh off the press. I know your binding glue is new and your cover art done by a cutting-edge designer. I know you sit on the bookstore shelves and flirt with every customer who walks by, simply because you have no experience of the world and do not know what terrible and gruesome deaths books can meet. So pay attention! I would hate for any of these to happen to you.

1. Not all humans value commitment. Some humans may buy you off the shelf, read you once, and then throw you away, never to be opened again. They won’t even pass you on to a friend or send you to the library for another chance to be loved. No matter how beautiful you are or how hard you work to keep your pages stiff or your suspense scenes interesting, some people will never appreciate your labor and service. All books deserve a loving home, so please watch out for second-rate bookbuyers like this.

2. Less devastating but more painful: some humans will actually abuse you. They turn your pages, make you think they love you, and then plop! a wad of gum lands between your pages and sticks them together, making them impossible to open again without tearing. Or a waterfall of hot coffee comes pouring down on your head, obliterating your words and wrinkling the weave of your paper forever. There is help for such damage, but no real cure, so be careful.

3. Worse: death by fire. This fate was a much greater risk several years ago, but especially if you open your mouth and utter shocking and uncensored comments, you are at risk for being burned at the stake, perhaps even publicly. It is one of the great unrectified injustices against our kind, but for the time being, you must watch yourself.

4: Perhaps more gruesome still: death by water. Your innocent-seeming owner appears to love you so much that they read you at every possible opportunity, even snatching a few minutes with you while they brush their teeth. One minute you’re happily flapping around in their free hand, and the next thing you know, you’re facedown in the sink, covered with toothpaste. Or worse–I shudder to think of it–floating in the toilet bowl. Beware of small bathrooms; these increase the danger exponentially.

5. And now we come to the worst fate of all. I hate to even tell you about this and cast a shadow over your unscarred print-history line. But it must be told. There are some people–some bookstore-frequenting people–who will appear enamored with you, seem to appreciate you for your depth and worth, buy you off the shelf, take you home, shelve you above their television set–and then leave you there, untouched and unnoticed, to gather dust with a row of other deceived books for the rest of your lonely, unloved life. You’ll even be close enough to hear the cruel blaring of the television as they sit with it every night.

Please don’t despair, dear Libris. These fates are terrible and tragic, but there are also excellent humans who will take good care of you and make your shelf life long and sweet. There are those people who will tiptoe into the bookstore, or library, or even up to the giveaway table at a yard sale, and spot you, and cry: “Just the one I’ve been looking for!” And they’ll take you home and love you and read you again and again. They will laugh at your funny parts and turn your pages carefully. They’ll keep you far away from coffee mugs and television sets, and they may even recommend you to their friends. It is worth any risk to end up in the hands of such a person.
Dear Libris, I hope you may end up with such an owner. But even so–keep your eyes open. There are many gruesome ways for books to die. 

Thank you Hannah, Teri, Megan, Caleb, and Elaine for these wonderfully grisly ideas! What warnings would you give a naive, newly published volume about the world of readers?