Don’t Do This

A few posts ago, I mentioned a book I’m reading,
“The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows” by John Koenig. I said I’d share my thoughts on it another day, and I’m keeping my promise.


It is a volume of words created by the writer, but it’s more. He describes emotions we have that we may not even be conscious of, experiences common enough to necessitate a word. The essays in the book reflect perceptions often felt but seldom analyzed. It is poetic, philosophical, existential, and I admit to shedding a few tears.

The following is a review of this New York Times bestseller. “It’s undeniably thrilling to find words for our strangest feelings… Koenig casts light into lonely corners of human experience.”

John Koenig had me at page nine, with looseleft” adj. “Feeling a sense of loss upon finishing a good book, sensing the weight of the back cover locking away the characters you’ve gotten to know so well. It’s the melding of the words loose-leaf, and left.

I experience “looseleft” regularly. Reading constantly, I mourn the end of every good book just as I feel cheated when one ends in an unsatisfying predictable way.

Sonder“The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own, ambitions friends routines worries and inherent craziness- an epic story that continues invisibly around you, like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of others lives you’ll never know exist, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” I loved that.

Did I say loved, not love? What happened? Let me tell you why I don’t think I’ll ever feel “looseleft” with regards to this book. It is unlikely I’ll finish reading it. I made the mistake of telling my son what I was reading and briefly describing it. The outcome should have been predictable.

My 22-year-old creation learned from me that everything is, or can be made, a joke. He has taken my heraldry too far. My youngest (adult,) child now makes up new words for everything, then looks at me, waiting for a reaction: donger– that feeling when your dog causes anger.” He spent an evening creating words, diminishing the book in my eyes. I had no choice but to finally join in. My first contribution was-Bibliokill– that feeling when your son kills the joy you have been deriving from a book.”

Although he no longer looks like this to other people, this is still how I see him.

I’m not really angry. I prefer laughing to reading, and I lurv my books; I also love my son… maybe not in that order.

How badly did my son ruin this book for me? Sonder, Koenig’s most acknowledged neologism now reminds me of the movie “Mean Girls,” and the line–“stop trying to make fetch happen.”

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