Have you ever stayed up too late reading a book? Have you neglected duties and basic hygiene for a book? Some may be nodding, but some just don’t understand. Family members especially. It wasn’t my fault. It was the book. It hooked me and I was at its mercy.

 

“We’re hungry and there’s no dinner,” one child whined. I looked up at the clock. Was that really the time? Hours had flown by. “There’s not even anything cooking,” noted another child peeking in the oven.

 

“Excuse me,” I said moving to the kitchen, pulling out a jar of peanut butter, and opening the bag of bread, “but people were in peril today.”

 

“Really?” they said. This was followed by a contrite admission of selfishness. How could they be concerned with a full course dinner when there were people in peril that their mother had to attend to? “What people?” one asked.

 

“Well….” I cleared my throat. “Fictional people. It was all very intense.”

 

“Mom, you can pause a book,” said my son. “It’s easier than a movie even.”

 

“Easy?” I plunged the knife into the open jar. “What do you know about easy? I’ve grown very fond of this fictional character. She may be trusting the very person who wants to hurt her. Imagine my distress! Was I supposed to set the book down with nothing more pressing than peeling potatoes calling to me? It just wasn’t an option. I was in peril, too. It was a hostage situation.”

 

“The book was holding you hostage?” asked my husband, entering the kitchen and looking at the knife I jabbed into the jar of peanut butter.

 

“You’re finally starting to get it.” I breathed a sigh of relief. “Now will you make these sandwiches so I can finish the last couple of chapters?”

 

I’m not a fast reader. The room grew darker and I had to turn on the light as I made my way through the story. Eventually, the peril was past but the book’s grasp on me hardly slackened. When I turned the last page, I wasn’t quite ready to leave it behind. I read the author dedication and could finally rest. I closed the book. “I’m free,” I announced to no one in particular.

 

I was also starving. You don’t have an appetite during hostage negotiations. I made my way out to the kitchen. My family had banded together in my absence and cooked a lovely meal. There was even a plate for me. I dug in like it was the ransom finally delivered.

 

I’ve had the opposite experience: a book that doesn’t engage me. Those who think they don’t like to read just haven’t found the right kind of book, yet. If you haven’t been held hostage by a book recently, I feel for you. For that, you see, is even worse than when you are. Happy hostage reading.