I want you to know how much I appreciate you coming to me. I know it couldn't have been easy. And of course, everything that you reveal to me here will remain in confidence.
Second. . . you're not alone. Hundreds of people have this problem; we can't possibly know how many, because a lot of them never come forward. They live out their lives, with the shame and the guilt bubbling just below the surface, their terrible perversions twisting everything they hold dear until they die, as defeated husks.
But that won't happen to you. You're getting help.
I know how easy it is to get hooked. Yes. I was there once, I was like you. I was inexplicably drawn to that darkest part of the Barnes & Noble. I've thought, It's nothing serious. I just need a break from Stephen King and Jane Austen. Just one book about proms, and boys, and fashion. Maybe even some vampires. Nobody has to know, and I can stop whenever I want, right?
Teen Fiction is serious business. It's not something you can just try once and quit. Once you're in, you're in it for good unless you reach an arm out of that horrible muck and cry to the heavens I NEED HELP!
I've heard your plea, friend. While I can't promise to cure you completely, I can give you the tools to cut yourself a path from the glitter-dusted high school hallways to real literature with developed characters and emotional plots.
My methods may seem counterproductive to you, but I assure you they've helped at least a few people. I can count, like, three, off the top of my head. You can't argue with results like that!
First, go to the library (or the bookstore, if you're a particularly strong person) and pick up this book.
by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville
This book is written from the perspective of two teenagers from freshly divorced homes, going to live on a mountain in Boston with 300 other people from their church, because the pastor says the world is going to end on July 27th. There's a lot of good stuff about religion, the corruption of the human race, mob mentality, and relationships, and even though it's about two hormonal teenagers camping out on a mountain, it doesn't focus much on the two of them. It's been one of my favorite books since I was in fifth grade, and I still read it regularly.
It's an amazing book, but it's classified as Teen Fiction and will therefore satisfy your baser desires, while at the same time weaning you off of them.
Big Mouth and Ugly Girl
by Joyce Carol Oates
Another one of my favorite books. This one is also written from the perspective of two teenagers, one of whom gets arrested for making a joke that sounds like a bomb threat. It focuses a lot on relationships and clashing personalities, and how careful you have to be with what you say.Part of the reason I like it so much is that it's written like how teenagers think and talk. I can't really explain the other parts. You just have to read it.
There's enough stuff in there about stupid jocks and annoying parents to satiate the dark hunger within.
Once you're done with those, you're ready for a series. These books have so many books with so many twists and turns in them that you'll never need to turn to more drastic, desperate measures. . .
The Princess Diaries
by Meg Cabot
No, I do not mean the movies. Although if you have seen the movie (the first one anyway) I won't blame you. It was hilarious. The books, however, have a few key differences.
First and foremost: Mia's dad wasn't dead, and her grandmother was a complete bitch. Also, Mia absolutely does not want to be a princess, but doesn't have a choice, and the throne is in no danger whatsoever. There are also quite few stupid little changes that I didn't really get, but really annoyed me. Here are the ones I can think of without going upstairs to grab one of the books:
-They live in a loft in Manhattan, not in a refurbished firehouse in San Francisco
-Lily's show is called Lily Tells It Like it Is, not Shut Up and Listen
-Lana and Josh's last names are Weinberger and Richter, not Thomas and Bryant
-Mia and Lilly are in ninth grade, not tenth
-Her mom dates her Algebra teacher (Mr. Gianini), not her Debate teacher (Mr. O'Connell, who DOESN'T EXIST EVER ASDJHALSKJDL:;)
I seriously just thought of like, five more while I was peeing, but we'd be here all night if I didn't stop there.
Anyway, the books are good. There's a lot more stuff about being an actual teenager than there is about princessy crap, which means she worries about sex and Britney Spears and failing Algebra and dating. There are like, ten books, and they're all pretty good. Some of them get a little whiny, but everything ties together in a satisfying way, and you can read them over and over again and always get your fill of teen drama.
Which is good for you and your unsavory addiction.
Pretty Little Liars
by Sara Shepard
Again, I don't mean the show. The show isn't fantastic, and it's way less interesting. I just thought the promo shot was better than the cover of the first book.
The Pretty Little Liars series revolves around four girls (one of whom, contrary to what the above photo would have you believe, is not of undefined ethnic descent) and their friend who disappeared three years ago, when they were in seventh grade. It's good, sordid stuff that combines typical high school drama with murder, scandal and intrigue about the community. There's a big dance in just about every book, so you're sure to get more than your fill of prom dresses and bitchy girls, while still feeling like you're reading a big book for grown-ups.
These boo-- er, steps, will make things much easier for you out in the real world. Soon you'll be able to taste food again. Colors will be brighter. Your husband/wife/nonspecific significant other will stop resenting you, and your finances will take a considerable upswing. Maybe you'll get that big promotion.
And if none of that happens. . . well, you can always do a guest blog about it.
(a guest post by Kelli Renas)