Literary Madness: A Dangerous Disease Affecting Readers Everywhere

It’s over. It is finished. No, wait… one more annotation. Now. Now it is finished. But it isn’t! Arghhh!!!
I know it is considered bad writing to use numerous exclamation marks, but I suffer from a fever that only excessive use of them can cure! (See, that sentence did not even need one, but my current state of excitement made me put it there despite the protests of my inner editor! Ahh! Another! And another!)

Okay… I am calm again. I suppose I should explain the cause of my outburst, but to do that, I will have to diagnose and define an illness particular to bookworms like myself: Literary Madness.

This disease features symptoms such as screaming in shock, questioning the meaning of humanity and existence in general, spontaneous bouts of crying, irrational anger towards fictional characters, and the inability to stop annotating or quoting. Attacks of Literary Madness are triggered by in-depth reading and analyzing of any piece of writing that leads to an unnaturally high level of emotion and thought. These attacks come generally without warning and can last for as little as three seconds or as long as weeks. There is, as of yet, no definite cure, for like writer’s block and writer’s despair, Literary Madness is brushed aside as a pseudo-disease by medical professionals. (However, my elevated heart rate and pounding headache indicate that it is more serious than they believe! <- snap, there’s another exclamation mark…deep breaths, Ryanne…) However, for any unfortunate reader who falls victim to an attack of L.M., it has been found that symptoms may be eased by taking a solitary walk, lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling fan, watching paranormal documentaries on Netflix (or British dramas, if those are not your cup of tea), and perusing satirical memes on Pinterest.

Okay, now that we’ve established what Literary Madness is, I believe that it is obvious that I am suffering from a severe case of it. Granted, my entire life seems to be one continuous attack of L.M., but right now it has peaked and I am displaying nearly every symptom. (I have not yet screamed aloud, mostly because my family has company…) What has brought on this attack? The answer is one word, one book, and a multitude of implications, thoughts, questions, and emotions: Frankenstein.

I realize that I called this book an “Intellectual” in my last post, and while my label remains unchanged, I have found a morbid pleasure in rereading it, unveiling allusions I previously missed, tackling questions I had scribbled in its margins, and wondering about its connections to the author, to me, to humanity. Do you see now why my mind was in such a whirl? I am by no means calling Frankenstein the epitome of literary greatness, but it raised so many questions about what it means to be human, what defines good and evil, and what mankind’s position in the universe is, how can I help my mind from dancing and pondering every possible implication of its words? How can I help using exclamation points?!?!

If you’ve survived my rant to this point, I offer my sincerest thanks. Not many people can handle an attack of Literary Madness themselves, let alone that of another person. If you’ve continued reading to this point, I offer my sincerest apologies, for you too probably are afflicted with this disease. If you don’t believe me, try reading Frankenstein; I can guarantee you will, in one way or another, have your first attack of Literary Madness.

Book Cravings

Have you ever just needed to reread a book? I mean, have you ever just felt so overwhelmed with the real world that you long to escape once more into “fairylands forlorn” with Lucy Pevensie or Bilbo Baggins? Or maybe you prefer dances and romance with Scarlett O’Hara or Elizabeth Bennett? Or perhaps even chilling adventures with Dracula or the Phantom?

Recently, I have been having these book cravings nonstop, although, thanks to AP Literature, I find myself trapped in the intriguing but annoying world of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. (Long story short, the main character is more of an angst-ridden teenager than I am…) Tonight, however, I have a rare moment to read whatever I choose… but what shall that be? This book must be fitting for my mood and situation or else be quickly exiled back to the shelf, so instead of staring wonderingly at my bookshelf as I do too often, I am going to ramble on here for a bit, sorting out my thoughts and whatnot. So here it goes: the classification of my books in order to determine what I must reread…

First of all, there are the “Warm Hug” books, the ones you’ve read over and over until the pages are wrinkled. They have been smashed in backpacks, dropped in baths, and there is probably some food smeared inside, but despite their rumpled appearance, they are beautiful because of the good memories and simple comforts that they hold. One of my favorite “Warm Hug” books is The Mysterious Benedict Society. It is witty, exciting, but best of all familiar.

Secondly, we have the “Listening Ear” books. These don’t ask questions; they simply are. The tales they hold are like ice cream; you may not quite know why, but your mind is quieted by reading them and they just allow you to breathe. Anne of Green Gables is a Listening Book. It does not try to teach lessons or lecture; it accepts you for who you are at the moment and allows you to escape to a setting of serenity and hope.

Now we come to the “Escape” books. Sometimes you don’t need a hug or a listener. Sometimes you need to run, to punch something, to dance around crazily shouting incantations. Unfortunately, this is frowned upon in the real world, but Escape books can take you somewhere to let off some steam through a dangerous adventure. Obviously, Harry Potter is one of these.

Finally, we have reached the “Intellectuals” on their exalted shelf. These are the ones who always want to have the final say; they will not let their reader finish them without draining every ounce of literary prowess in an epic battle of wit and annotation. Most people hate these. I love them. (Like really, really love them.) I am attracted to the challenge of finding allusions, analyzing syntax, arguing meaning, but these works are not to be taken lightly. They offer no hugs, so proceed with these only when your mind is clear and itching for exercise. Frankenstein is the epitome of an Intellectual.

I have determined that I what I need is a Warm Hug book, but to my dismay, I have spent my spare moment writing this and now the Intellectual is demanding my undivided attention once more… here’s to annotations!