Have you ever personally found books to be dangerous?

I’ve gotten a few nasty papercuts, but other than that, books have been very kind to me. One time, though, a book almost ripped my tongue out. This was my fault, not the book’s.

It was early elementary school, and my class was sitting in a circle, taking turns reading from a thick hardcover book of stories about some bland kids and their pets. We each had our own copy. It looked like it was going to be a while before my turn to read came up, so I started fiddling with my book. And you know how sometimes you forget that you’re in public and just do whatever crosses your mind? It occurred to me to stick my tongue in the book, like a bookmark, and then close it. So I did.

If you’re thinking this is no big deal, try it sometime. Once I’d closed the book, I couldn’t find the page where my tongue was. The book was heavy, so it was kind of pulling on my tongue. And now my turn to read was in sight, and I started to get increasingly frantic. I scrabbled through the pages desperately, and then, even more desperately, I tried to just yank my tongue out of the book. Never do this! It felt like I was going to rip my tongue out of my head. Then, before I was called on to read, I figured out that I would have to go in from the top—wedge my finger in right beside my tongue and pry the pages apart. This worked, which is why I still have a tongue.

PS: Many years later, when I was a full-grown adult, I questioned my memory of this incident. So I put my tongue in a book again! That time I learned my lesson for good.

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