Kinds of Fish

Person staring at fish at an aquarium.

We live in a large fish tank of many, many different types of fish.


There are fish of different colors, sizes, shapes, and capabilities all around us. That’s what makes life so interesting.

There’s the plain, solid-colored fish: you know, the one that isn’t anyone’s favorite fish, but we all think of this kind of fish when we think of a fish. It’s like vanilla ice cream. It isn’t anyone’s favorite, but everyone likes it.

There are clownfish: fish whose names are promising but ultimately lead to disappointment. (Honestly, clown-fish aren’t that exciting. Bi-colored stripes, really? There are at least fifty other kinds of fish who are way more qualified to be named after clowns. Like all the scary ones that live way down in the dark water.)

There are blowfish: fish who go way overboard with everything, but you love them anyway.

There are dolphins: fish (technically mammals, but who really cares?) who dance and laugh and chatter with each other–fish who know how to have a good time and make people smile.

There are angler fish: fish who live way down in the depths of the earth where no one goes, but every once in a while they pop up on those nature shows, and they’re terrifying and give you nightmares.

There are sharks: fish with anger and/or eating issues.

There are catfish: fish who are old and whiskered and have many years of wisdom and knowledge, but they’re boring.

There are sting rays: fish who are majestic and graceful, gliding through the water and laughing inwardly at all the other frantic fish. Sometimes they sting.

There are piranhas: greedy, thrill-seeking fish who just don’t know when to stop.

I don’t really know how this happens–I get started on a post, and I think of an analogy, and I just carry it way too far. But it’s already happened, and we’re going with it. Sorry.

My point (originally) was that there are lots of different kinds of people in the world. Which is great. And one of the great things about it is that with all the millions of different kinds of people in the world, there are millions of different kinds of books.

And all of them, it would seem, can be compared to fish.

Plain, Solid-colored Fish

Like vanilla ice cream. Old, plain, and reliable. They’re the books you’ve read over and over–the ones you can always rely on to fill a rainy day in an armchair.


These books have fantastic titles or book-splurges or even concepts, but the actual book is a let down. These books make me cringe. I mean, come on–if you’re gifted enough to come up with a title or concept like that, you should be able to execute it. If you can’t execute it, sell it to someone who can.

Like me.

I could have gotten rich off of your trash.


These books are junk. Just good, solid, entertaining junk. They aren’t well-written or deep (most of the time they’re melo-dramatic or overly cheesy), but for some reason you just love ’em anyway.


Well-written, light, and fun–these are the best kinds of books. They bring smiles to people’s faces every time. They’re like the plain, solid-colored fish, but they’re brighter and better and they do neat flips.

Angler Fish

Anything by Stephen King.


This isn’t really applicable to books. But sharks are very analogous to people with anger issues, I think.


These books are the sparkling jewels that are lost and scorned by our generation. Now they’ve sunk to the bottom of that nasty lake you drive by every morning, and they sit there, growing whiskers and meandering around in the murky depths chewing on deep thoughts that today’s teenagers are mentally incapable of fathoming.

A catfish is anything written by Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle, or any dusty old shelf-dweller with a name like “The Art of War,” “The Constitution of the United States,” or “Leviticus.”

Sting Rays

Jane Austen, primarily.

I was pretty much just thinking of her when I mentioned rays.

And Dickens. Austen and Dickens.


These books are the ones that are completely plot-driven, with no character depth or real value. After a while, they just become gimmicks. Of all the books in the world, piranhas are my least favorite.

(That’s actually a lie. Like any other consumer, I get sucked in by piranhas. Let’s face it–they’re page-turners.

But I always feel like a loser after I read them–as if they’re just laughing at me from the waters of the Amazon:

“And you call yourself a lover of good literature. Ha! Sucker!”)

So there it is–the fish-tank-library of the world, and all the different fish in them.

I don’t know if this is actually helpful or beneficial in any way, but I do think that it would be awesome if we all went around talking about books in terms of fish.

“Oooh, that one’s a real sting ray.”

In case any of you aren’t unpopular enough and need a little extra nerdy-ness in your life, there it is.

You’re welcome.

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