Welcome to the Bad Decisions Book Club

A burgundy tent made out of a book standing on its edges with a gold light coming from inside around the border it says BAD DECISIONS BOOKS CLUB and the website URL plus JUST ONE MORE PAGE on the cover of the tent-book Ever since I was old enough to read on my own, I’ve been making terrible decisions regarding books and basic time management. I’m normally a fairly organized and responsible person. I file my taxes on time. My library books are never overdue. My homework was never late.

Add books to the mix, though, and suddenly I decide to do things that Future Elyse will seriously regret, hence my founding of The Bad Decisions Book Club.

Here’s a few examples of what it means to belong to this esteemed club:

I have to read four books for work in a week’s timespan, so naturally I ignore all those books and pick up something entirely different instead. Usually this book has been sitting in the dusty corners of my Kindle, a forgotten backlist title I bought on sale, but suddenly I have to read it RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

Another example would be having my family come over for the holidays which necessitates cleaning and cooking and showering–but sitting down to read instead.

But most often it goes like this:

I decide to start a new book at 11:30 at night, just to read a few pages. At this point I’m in my denial phase of poor reading choices, but Future Elyse is waving at me through the time space continuum, giving me the finger, because she knows how this ends. She’s seen this before. It ends in bitter tears.

By 1:30 a.m. my neck hurts and my eyes are tired, and we’re now deeply into the negotiation phase of things. I will put the book down after this chapter, I can still totally go to work tomorrow if I skip a shower, brush my teeth in the car, wear the pants I had on yesterday and get a venti flat white from Starbucks. We can still make this happen.

Now it’s 3 a.m. and I know Future Elyse is gonna be REALLY MAD. Somewhere in my exhausted brain I’m trying to math but it doesn’t work out. There’s no point in even going to bed now, right? Three hours of sleep is somehow worse than no hours of sleep.


I start planning out how I’m going to survive the next day: I can finish the book, shower, brush my teeth at home like a normal person, and wear new pants. I will mainline espresso and Diet Coke all day, adding in Excedrin as needed.

By noon, I figure the nausea will kick in. That’s why I have Saltines in my desk. I can cancel my two afternoon meetings and if my staff ask me any questions I’ll just say “Sure,” and pray that covers it. If they stare at me I’ll follow it up with, “What do you think you should do?” so it looks like mentoring.

Large box of Saltine crackers

Now it’s 3:30 a.m. and I realize my plan is terrible and why the hell do I even do this, what is wrong with me. I go downstairs and cry into the cat for fifteen minutes which REALLY upsets the cat, quite frankly. Since I’m tired and overly emotional, I turn to my comfort activity–reading.

By 5:00 a.m. I’m contemplating calling into work with diarrhea. No one EVER questions diarrhea.

By 5:30 I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this is not the responsible thing to do.

6:00 a.m.: MOTHER FUCKER.

Inevitably I go to work having finished the book and generally feeling like shit. People do a double take when I walk by and ask if I’m anemic again. I give Past Elyse the finger.

Honestly, though, I know I’ll never learn my lesson and I’ll do it again.

What about you? Are you a member of The Bad Decisions Book Club? What reading choice do you totally (not) regret?

NB: Sarah has Bad Decisions Book Club stickers – the purple circles above with our tent of reading and shame. She’ll be giving out stickers at random to folks who comment until Friday 6 May (void where prohibited, must be over 18, etc etc), so don’t be shy about sharing your Bad Decisions Book Club shame! 

NBx2: By request from PamG, there are Bad Decisions Book Club t-shirts to be had! You can choose a chest/pocket logo version or a large logo version.


NBx3! By further request: STICKERS for purchase! 

The Bad Decisions Book Club just one more page written on a book propped up to look like a tent with light coming from beneath it

Comments are Closed

  1. I think I’m a founding member of this club. May have had an incident just last week with starting latest Anne Bishop at 10.30 at night… Just as well time travel doesn’t work because if Future Mel ever met Past Mel there would be words. And possibly hair pulling.

  2. Vivienne says:

    Sadly I know that late night negotiating with myself all too well. And most weekdays my alarm goes off at 520 so I can get my son to swim training.

  3. Nalini Singh says:

    I do this with comfort reads too – so there’s no excuse that I don’t know the story already! And for some reason, as long as I don’t hear the birds chirp, I’m all “it’s fine, it’s fine, you can get up in the morning no problem”. Then I hear the birds and panic.

  4. Francesca says:

    My bad decisions have more to do with when I know the book is awful, but still can’t put it down. One particularly sticks in my memory:

    A beautiful, hot summer afternoon. I’ve just had lunch at a terrace cafe and I’m cracking open a very well-known book that, somehow, I’d always missed reading before. I sip an ice-cold beer and get sucked in. Hours and several beers later, I’m sunburned, have a raging headache and I’m kind of drunk. Even while I was reading, I knew the book was trash, but…

    It was Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. It’s gone on to become one of my favourite crack reads,

    I’d say it’s really only a bad decision if the book wasn’t worth it.

  5. Megan Larsen says:

    I will start a new book in a series and then can’t remember some bit of the past story that is referenced so I’ll go back to the earlier book just to check which results in going down the rabbit hole but I get the past storyline straight in my head so I can go back to the new book but then it’s 6 am and the alarm is going off and I’m hungry and WTF – I was only reading a few pages…..

  6. mspym says:

    I have been a member of the Bad Decisions Book Club since I was 10. My room was far from my parents and I had a reading lamp…it was never going to end well. Last night I was up till way too late reading (rereading) Stardoc by SL Viehl primarily because I couldn’t remember how the story ended. Today has been a wasteland.

  7. Joan says:

    Just finished Ride Hard by Laura Kaye. 3:07 am.

  8. Suzanne K says:

    The worst point of my Bad Decisions Bookclub membership was when I was nursing my second child. She’d wake me up to eat at around 1am and I would pull out the kindle to read for a few minutes. To keep me awake so I could return her to her crib. Two hours later, I’d be lying in bed with a sleeping baby, still reading. At that point my brain would say something like “well she’ll wake up again within 45 minutes, I may as well just wait.” It would be 4am before I’d bring her back to her crib. First child would wake up at 5am and I would be a mess all day, and responsible for two small humans and a menagerie of animals.

  9. *raises hand*

    A few months ago I was almost done with a Big Fat Fantasy Novel and picked it up at 9 on a Sunday night, thinking “I can finish this and go to bed at a reasonable hour, no prob.” Cue one of the most thrilling and EPIC, and also mind-bogglingly weird, conclusions I’ve ever seen. Which also made me cry, which rarely happens.

    I finished the book at midnight and spent the next five hours recovering – saying WTF aloud, crying as mentioned, pacing around trying to get rid of my excess frantic energy, going on fan websites to see other people’s comments on the ending, and finally lying in bed trying to sleep. I got about two hours of sleep at last and somehow made it to work.

  10. Ren Benton says:

    I was in the middle of Charlie Huston’s first Joe Pitt novel and told my hungry child I would feed her as soon as I finished the chapter.

    Hours later, when I was not quite finished with the book, said child interrupted me again with complaints of imminent death by starvation, and I noticed for the first time that those books don’t have chapters.

  11. Lostshadows says:

    This reminds me of the conversation I had with my mother when I recommended Harry Potter to her.
    Me:I think you’ll really like this, just don’t start it late at night.
    Mom:Oh, it’s scary.

    It’s also why I switched to audiobooks for reading at night. No light=me eventually dozing off. Which is often followed by me half waking up, realizing I’ve missed things and fumbling around trying to find where I was in the book. (I do get some sleep this way.)

  12. Kate says:

    I am a full-time student between September and April, and during the term I don’t let myself read fun books (I have enough text books to get through) – except at the gym and after I go to bed. Several times this past term I would crawl into bed absolutely exhausted and pick up my bedside table books to read “just a couple of pages” before turning the light out and spend the next hour or two lost in the world of the book.
    Future Kate always regrets this decision as classes and studying and writing are that much harder the next day, but unfortunately Future Kate doesn’t always remember this the next night.

  13. sionna says:

    I’ve been a member of the club since I discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder in third grade. I had to know what happened with Almonzo!
    I do it less now, but I’m still highly likely to be found passed out with the light on, clutching my phone because I couldn’t just find a reasonable stopping point and go to bed.

  14. Heather T says:

    Oh yes, although now that I’m older I do usually manage to go to bed by 3, which of course, now that I’m older is as difficult to recover from as staying up all night was when I was younger. It started early. I remember in sixth grade getting up after everyone had gone to bed so I could keep reading. One night my parents thought there was an intruder and got up to search the whole house, while I jumped into bed and stubbornly pretended to be asleep.
    It occurs to me in hindsight that since every light in the house was on and everyone was up, it probably wasn’t convincing for me to pretend to be asleep.

  15. Guilty. I’m a lifelong member, starting with reading with a flashlight beneath the covers after bedtime. It’s good to meet my sisters-in-suffering.

  16. SandyCo says:

    I learned a long time ago to not start a book that I can’t finish the same night. However, I’m also guilty of picking up a comfort read “just for a few minutes”, then looking up owlishly to say, “It’s midnight?! How did that happen?” (I get up for work at 5:20 a.m., so midnight is pretty late for me.) This is why my TBR pile is out of control; it’s difficult to block out four or five hours to read in one sitting!

  17. elaanfaun says:

    On my OKC profile one of the “What I’m doing on a typical Friday night…” is “Reading just ooooone more chapter…O shit! Is that the sun?!”

  18. Margaret says:

    Like Nalini Singh, for me it doesn’t even have to be a new book. Last night at 1 I picked up Sunshine by Robin McKinley and read until 3:30 – just until she made it back from the lake… The worst is when I read until I’m so tired I really don’t recall exactly what happened. I put some blame on Kindles for making it so easy to read at night too.

  19. JTReader says:

    Yes, I’ve been a member of the club since my teens, but it’s so much worse now that there are e-readers that make it too easy to read at night.

  20. Molly says:

    Yes, I’m a member. Last time I did this was for Mariana Zapata’s The Wall of Winnipeg and Me that came out earlier this year. Oh, the GUILT when my husband woke up at 3:30am to ask, “Are you STILL reading?”, to which I obviously replied, “YES. DON’T JUDGE ME.”

    I made it through work the following day, but it was rough.

    Oh, wait! I just did this last week with Charlotte Stein’s Never Sweeter.

    No regrets.

  21. P says:

    Went to see Beyonce last night 3+ hours away from home. Pulled onto my street circa 3:30 AM. Decided to “wind down” by reading a few pages of my book. Finally fell sleep at 4:30. Up at 7 for work. WHYYYYYY?

  22. Nita says:

    I generally don’t stay up all night. But many nights I stay up 2-3 hours past my bedtime. Since most of my reading is in the evening, I finish many books then. I’ll get into bed in time to get a good 7-8 hours of sleep, but I always sabotage myself by picking up my next book. My just reading a couple pages to start the book turns into 1-3 hours of reading. Now I’m only getting 4-6 hours of sleep. Enough to function, but also feel gross. It’s my own fault.

  23. Christine says:

    This pretty much sums up my life. I cannot tell you how many times I have done this. The most recent example is one of the worst as I chose a (for me) “tearjerker” book so not only did I go to work miserable and sleep deprived but with red swollen, irritated eyes. I recommend it for anyone wanting to take this book misery to truly the next level, lol. Really it’s the publishers fault for releasing new books on a Tuesday! This only ensures that I will be tired and cranky on Wednesday.

  24. Katherine McCorry says:

    Is there a BDBC magnet for my car?? That would warn the people in my neighborhood for unexpected uturns as I am listening to Bet Me for the 47th time. It’s better than radio. I’m a multiple offender – bargaining with husband for extra light time (pre cell phone era), negotiating over all nighters with sick children vs Saturday morning doctors visit, and putting a fresh face on soup and grilled cheese for the 3rd night in a row by cutting it into triangles.
    This is the best book club ever.

  25. Jen says:

    I had to stop starting romances when I know I can’t finish them that day. Seriously. Once I start I have absolutely no self control and will stay up all night reading. So, unless I have an entire free afternoon, I usually won’t read a romance. That’s why I also read a lot of nonfiction–even if I’m really enjoying it, I generally won’t be tempted to read all night.

  26. Katherine McCorry says:

    Forgot to add training my family over time to think some household tasks take WAY longer. That way I have time built into my day for reading. I’m happy with this questionable practice.

  27. Tamara Whyte says:

    I do this way too often. We had a rule in our house that I would not start a book after midnight, so I often start one at 11:50. It is nearly impossible for me to put a book down after I start it. The worst part for me is times like now (I teach, and it is a finals week). I really have no time to read, but I want to reward myself for grading. I’ll just read one chapter… right?

  28. Laura says:

    I’ve had to put a strict restriction on myself: once I get into bed, I cannot read one of the new books I’ve never read before. Instead, once I’m lying down, I get to re-read old favorites, something where I know how it ends.

    By doing this, I’ve reduced my attendance at the Bad Decision Book Club, though I haven’t completely dropped out.

  29. Ava says:

    Are you kidding me? I can’t remember a time when I didn’t do this. I am incapable of not finishing a book in a single reading. The house could burn around me and I’d still be “wait a sec, one more page”. My husband HATES it when he sees me starting a book. I might have even told him once to his face that i’d rather finish the book than have sex. And to put that in perspective, we have greeeeat sex. To my defence, it was one of the few books where I couldn’t guess the ending. Now I have a 1 year old and I confess I might have used her a couple of times as an excuse for me being up late an night reading. You see…she was ‘restless’ :)) My husband knows the truth and thinks I’m crazy. But in the 12 years we’ve been together he has read 1 book that wasn’t something for work. So he knows not of the pleasures of functioning as a zombi the next day because you were busy living in another universe at night.

  30. Vlada says:

    Yes, yes, all the yes. I was a serial offender as a kid, but with the advent of that “Buy now with one click” deviltry Amazon does (that button should be the mascot of this club) I can just start the next book of the series instantly!

  31. PamG says:

    Charter member here!

    So I’ve done the stay up half the night when I know I’m supposed to get up early in the morning, but, boss, I was sucked into another dimension honest.

    I have a bigger problem though. I call it deadline resistance syndrome. I remember reading somewhere that people who are chronically late have a suppressed desire to live dangerously. Such an exotic excuse. Anyway, anytime I have a deadline I am tempted to read something to put it off (I do other inappropriate things but reading is a primo distraction.)

    This happens when it’s RITA Reader Challenge time, so this year I was reading The Player and the Pixie and Kylie Scott’s Dirty when I should have been tackling my reviews. The reading was done of course. This syndrome also pops up with many other tasks I need to tackle. The winter holidays are a major procrastireading time for me.

    The worst, though? Mornings when I need to get ready for work, I’m sitting in the head reading. The clock is ticking and I’m going “Just till the end of the chapter.” or “Just until the next Kindle page that ends in a period.”

    Pitiful, that’s what it is, just pitiful.

  32. Layla says:

    Yes yes, all the days of my life!

  33. Sarah says:

    I relate to so much of this. I will always pick up a book I do not have to read over a book I must read. Even in elementary school, I got to select my own book report books, but as soon as I selected one it became required reading, the bane to my existence.

  34. Kini says:

    I have so many instances of this that I can’t even choose one. Many a days I’ve rolled in to work with a book hangover. Yet it still happens. I’ll never learn.

  35. Emily Bainter says:

    This is me all too frequently! I also have a toddler so I’m at a constant level of mild exhaustion anyway, but add a late night of reading and I get “Are you feeling okay? You look sick.” several times at work the next day. Past Emily, you are such an idiot!!!

  36. Wench says:

    11:30 PM: well, it’s been a rough day, let’s read a few pages to relax and fall asleep.

    1:00 am: how is it 1 am already?

    3:00 am: Well I’m 90% done I may as well finish it

    4:00 am: well since I’m still awake I might as well check Twitter

    7:00 am: *small child awakens for the day* OH SWEET JESUS

    And yes, like many of you, it started early – flashlights under the covers, hiding a book in a textbook at school. I know better than to “just read for like five minutes and then”, AND YET I continue.

  37. PamG says:

    BTW, will there be a tee shirt with that logo? Cuz I would buy the shit out of that.

  38. Julia aka mizzelle says:

    You mean when you look at an ebook and go “Hey, I only have X% left, I can totally finish this tonight?” and it’s longer than you realized but you can’t stop and you’re up until well past midnight reading, especially with an OMG page turning ending?

    Or… something like that.

  39. Alyssa says:

    My membership is heavily rooted in denial. I just turn my phone over and the alarm clock away so I can’t see what time it is. That way if I stay up til 2 it’s not like I REALLY stayed up til 2. Don’t ask questions, don’t look at anything that could possibly tell you what a bad decision you’re making. Deny deny deny! It’s fineeeee it’s probably only 11.

  40. Melanie K says:

    I couldn’t believe it when I saw Melanie Scott’s comment (#1) – I was just debating posting how I pulled an all-nighter and had to take a day off work so I could finish an Anne Bishop book (Black Jewells #2). But this occurred the second time I read it. I knew what happened and still couldn’t put it down!! Her books are crack! I wonder if all Melanie’s are rabid Anne Bishop fans!

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