Reading for a Blackout

So the other night the weather just wanted to remind me and everyone within the general area I call home that the apocalypse could come at any moment by unleashing thunder, lightening, tornadoes, flooding and all that good stuff in the greater Chicago area. Apparently, it was big enough news that concerned family in Canada found out about the weather somehow and phoned us.

My neighborhood got off pretty easy on the apocalypse scale, but there was still a pretty bad storm, and that bad storm lead to a blackout. It’s really the sort of thing we should’ve seen coming on my street, but I had just sat down to watch TV when the power cut out. For a few seconds, I had no idea what had just happened, and for the next few, I had no idea what to do, despite the fact that I grew up on this same block with terribly faulty power.  Once the flashlights were grabbed and the normally ornamental candles lit, though, I still wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of my evening, which suddenly freed up.

Well, I’m an idiot. Obviously, as soon as the visibility issue is solved you’re supposed to read books, duh. I figured that one out before too long, but what do you read during a blackout? And how?

I had one or two books on electronic devices that I thought about going to, but had to cross those out immediately. One was on my phone, which was pretty well charged but you look at battery life a whole lot more warily when trapped in possibly unending night. I figured that I might as well stick to the paper books I had in my to-read pile. You gotta conserve battery power when you can in emergency situations, just a generally good rule of thumb. As much as I love reading, I don’t want to explain how I couldn’t call a friend, family member, or 911 because I just had to finish my e-book.

That’s all fine though. I have plenty of good ol’ analogue books to read, but which ones do I read in a blackout? Not the scary ones, that’s for sure. Maybe if I’d just then had a bunch of girlfriends over and we were planning on scaring each other’s pants off for a slumber party anyway, but I’m not twelve years old so I was pretty much alone and not up for books on death and ghosts, monsters, and/or psychopathic humans. Blackout darkness is true, horror movie darkness, so you have to be careful of what you choose to read. I sometimes find poetry rather soothing, and easier to read in poor light because there’s fewer words on the page to piece out, same thing with comics. If you feel like you have something to prove, go ahead and read a tiny print sized horror novel during your next power outage. I generally prefer lighter, calmer fair. The longer a power outage goes on, the more I start to worry about apocalypse prepping and get myself plenty worked up without help from my reading selections.

With my pile of books selected, I sat down to read them with a flashlight. It was a nice way to relive my most rebellious moments in middle school. One time, I read all the way through New Moon by staying up past midnight. There was nothing my parents could do to stop me. Whoa! I lived through puberty right on the edge, man. Recalling these pleasant memories made going to bed with no power slightly less terrifying. Would wild thirteen-year-old me be scared of a silly little power outage? Probably, but that was back when I decided showing any emotion that wasn’t angsty sarcasm was a stupid weakness that must be suppressed, so I would’ve seemed totally fine to an observer.

Don’t worry though, our power turned back on eventually. I woke up in the middle of the night to find the lights on and the TV blaring, announcing the return of civilization. The pile of books I’d read during the blackout were still sitting next to my favorite chair, having never left me in the first place.


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