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Read Something Else

Lemony Snicket



  Title Page


  Begin Reading

  Contributing Illustrators

  Other Published Works

  Stock Art

  About the Author


  About the Publisher

  All the secrets of the world are contained in books—read at your own risk.

  No one has ever said, “Please let me stay up a little later—I am reading a really good book’s introduction.”

  If a book is the beginning of a conversation between the author and the reader, then the first few pages are just the author clearing his throat.

  Ahem, ahem, ahem.

  A reader once remarked to me, “Mr. Snicket, instead of collecting your own thoughts into a book, why don’t you gather what other people have—wait, why are you writing this down?”

  Taking a few sentences from a book and putting them by themselves is like removing a few sheep from a meadow. The sheep might get lonely, but you might find them delicious.

  When you read a sentence you love, you might pause for a moment to think about it, leaving your finger right there in the book so you do not lose your place. It is very important to retrieve your finger when you are done.

  Reading very short things is like opening a box of candied violets. You promise yourself you will only eat one, but before you know it, the whole day is gone and an angry mob is driving you out of town.

  Some books should be read straight through, a phrase which here means “from the first page to the last,” and some books can be read by skipping around, a phrase which here means “romping around outside instead of reading.”

  The best books are like complicated surgery—first you can’t get your head out of them, and then you can’t get them out of your head.

  The end of a book’s introduction is like the end of childhood. There is still so much ahead to disappoint you.

  Most people skip a book’s introduction, so it’s a good place to hide secrets.

  The sad truth

  is that the

  truth is sad.

  No matter

  who you are,

  no matter

  where you live, and

  no matter

  how many people

  are chasing you,

  what you don’t read

  is often as important as

  what you do read.






  One of the world’s tiresome questions is what object one would bring to a desert island, because people always answer “a deck of cards” or “Anna Karenina” when the obvious answer is “a well-equipped boat and a crew to sail me off the island and back home where I can play all the card games and read all the Russian novels I want.”

  Having an aura of

  menace is like

  having a pet weasel,

  because you rarely

  meet someone who

  has one, and when

  you do it makes you

  want to hide under

  the coffee table.

  A fluffy poached egg is a good breakfast, and a good breakfast is better than a bad one, like a good book is better than having your toe chopped off.

  A good friend tells you

  that the meal was delicious.

  A great friend

  does the dishes.

  Should you read

  in the morning,

  the afternoon,

  or in the middle of the night?


  Fate is like a strange,

  unpopular restaurant, filled with odd

  waiters who bring you things you never

  asked for and don’t always like.

  Somewhere in the world is an acorn waiting to grow into a tree waiting to be chopped down to be made into paper waiting for an author to write something that someone might appreciate, such as “Thank you, acorn.”

  Don’t repeat yourself.

  It’s not only repetitive,

  it’s redundant,

  and people have

  heard it before.

  Don’t repeat yourself.

  It’s not only repetitive,

  it’s redundant,

  and people have

  heard it before.

  Tears are curious things,

  for like earthquakes

  or puppet shows they can occur

  at any time, without any warning

  and without any good reason.

  You don’t spend your life

  hanging around books

  without learning a thing

  or two.

  There is no point in delaying crying.

  Sadness is like having a vicious

  alligator around.

  You can ignore it for only so long before

  it begins devouring things and you

  have to pay attention.

  The trouble with doing something suspicious for a living is that your coworkers will likely be suspicious, too, and you will find yourself entangled in a web of suspicion, even during your lunch hour.

  Just because you

  don’t understand something

  doesn’t mean that it’s


  It is most likely that

  I will die next to a pile of books

  I was meaning to read.

  A family is like a fire exit. If it doesn’t work properly, there’s no reason to run toward it.

  Villainy can win against

  one library,

  but not against an organization

  of readers.

  It’s an important skill to know

  when not to say anything.

  It’s not a skill that came naturally to me then,

  nor does it come naturally now,

  nor do I expect it to come naturally to me

  until I am dead, when I will be

  very, very good at it.

  Nobody is too old to be

  afraid of the dark.

  The dark is a terrifying

  place, because in the dark

  one cannot tell if that

  creaking sound is just a

  branch in the wind or the

  claw of a half-dog,

  half-eagle creature that is

  hungry for human flesh.





  Strange as it may seem, I still hope for the best, even though the best, like an interesting piece of mail, so rarely arrives, and even when it does it can be lost so easily.

  A library is like an island in the middle of

  a vast sea of ignorance,

  particularly if the library is very tall and

  the surrounding area has been flooded.

  Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you’d see.

  It is one of life’s bitterest truths

  that bedtime so often arrives

  just when things are really

  getting interesting.

  Assumptions are dangerous things to make,

  and like all dangerous things to make—

  bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake—

  if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find

  yourself in terrible trouble.

  One of the most

  troublesome things in life

  is that what you

  do or do not want

  has very little to do with what

  does or does not happen.
  Those unable to catalog the past

  are doomed to repeat it.



  There’s nothing wrong

  with occasionally staring

  out the window and

  thinking nonsense,

  as long as the

  nonsense is yours.

  Everyone should be able to do

  one card trick,

  tell two jokes, and

  recite three poems,

  in case they are ever trapped in an elevator.

  We are all told to ignore bullies.

  It’s something they teach you,

  and they can teach you anything.

  It doesn’t mean you learn it.

  It doesn’t mean you believe it.

  One should never ignore bullies.

  One should stop them.

  Ringing someone up in the morning

  is like wringing their neck at night.

  You’d best have a very good reason.

  You might be afraid of

  the dark,

  but the dark is

  not afraid of you.

  That’s why

  the dark is

  always close by.

  You cannot wait for an untroubled world to have an untroubled moment. The terrible phone call, the rainstorm, the sinister knock on the door—they will all come. Soon enough arrive the treacherous villain and the unfair trial and the smoke and the flames of the suspicious fires to burn everything away. In the meantime, it is best to grab what wonderful moments you find lying around.

  Oftentimes, when people

  are miserable,

  they will still want

  to make other people

  miserable, too.

  But it never helps.

  The quoting of an aphorism,

  like the angry barking of a dog or the smell of

  overcooked broccoli, rarely indicates

  that something helpful is about to happen.

  If an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, “Well, this isn’t too bad. I don’t have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,” but most of us would say something more along the lines of “Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!”

  You cannot have a really

  terrific library without at least one

  terrific librarian,

  the way you cannot have a really

  terrific bedroom unless you can

  lock the door.

  It is always cruel to laugh at people, of course, although

  sometimes if they are wearing an ugly hat it is hard to

  control yourself.

  There is a popular game in which one person says something to another, and that person says it to another, and so on and so on, and all the while the message is getting more and more garbled until it is nonsense. The game is called “living in the world” and it has been played for thousands of years.

  It is very difficult to make one’s way in this world without being wicked at one time or another, when the world’s way is so wicked to begin with.

  Reading is one form of escape.

  Running for your life

  is another.

  In my experience,

  well-read people are

  less likely to be evil.

  Taking one’s chances is like taking a bath, because sometimes you end up feeling comfortable and warm, and sometimes there is something terrible lurking around that you cannot see until it is too late and you can do nothing else but scream and cling to a plastic duck.

  It is almost as if happiness is an acquired taste,

  like coconut cordial or ceviche, to which you can

  eventually become accustomed,

  but despair is something surprising each time

  you encounter it.





  As I’m sure you know,

  the key to good eavesdropping

  is not getting caught.






  If we wait until

  we are ready,

  we’ll be waiting

  for the rest of

  our lives.

  Some books are like trapdoors, because you go through them once and leave them behind, and some are like fishnets, because they provide you with sustenance for years.

  Love can change

  a person the way

  a parent can change

  a baby—awkwardly,

  and often with a great

  deal of mess.

  They say in every library

  there is a single book that can

  answer the question that burns

  like a fire in the mind.

  If writers wrote as carelessly

  as some people talk, then

  adhasdh asdglaseuyt[bn[pasdlgkhasdfasdf.

  The moral of

  “Snow White” is

  “Never eat apples.”

  If you walk and read at the same time,

  your book might end with a lamppost.

  Contributing Illustrators


  Simini Blocker

  Noelle Stevenson

  Risa Rodil

  Kiernan Sjursen-Lien

  Karl James Mountford

  Jonathan Burton

  Cynthia Lopez

  Plakiat | Maks Bereski

  Isabel Talsma

  M. S. Corley

  Rachel Schweiger

  Cynthia Lopez

  Ima Tri Kurniawati

  Albert Victoria

  Isabel Talsma

  Anna Hoyle

  Izzy Abreu

  Cynthia Lopez

  Cynthia Lopez

  Caeleigh Boara

  Juan Osorno

  Cynthia Lopez

  Lara Mendes

  Karl James Mountford

  Jay Cover

  Lisa Cortes Bueno

  Anna Hoyle

  Nathanna Érica

  Olivia Huynh

  Louis Kynd

  Cynthia Lopez

  M. S. Corley

  Jonathan Burton

  Teemu Juhani

  Cynthia Lopez

  Lara Mendes

  M. S. Corley

  Cynthia Lopez

  Albert Victoria

  Olivia Huynh

  Isabel Talsma

  Cynthia Lopez

  Jack Gallagher

  M. S. Corley

  Art of Gwencha

  Laura Ellen Anderson

  Isabel Talsma

  Olivia Huynh

  Martina Mastroieni

  Hanna Wainio

  Karl James Mountford

  Jay Cameron

  Aleesha Nandhra

  Izzy Abreu

  Cynthia Lopez

  Elizabeth Baddeley

  M. S. Corley

  Cynthia Lopez

  Pierre Kleinhouse

  Other Published Works

  Stock Art

  VectorPot (typewriter) / Shutterstock

  Andrei Mayatnik (business card) / Shutterstock