10 Things Only Hardcore Bookworms Do
You probably know more than one and, if you're reading this, there's a staggering probability that you are one. I'm talking about bookworms. You can also call them book fans, book people, book freaks, book lovers, etc. All those names work, but it's their actions that I want to talk about today. Bookworms are weird for a plethora of reasons and, when it comes to reading, books, and literature, they occupy a special mental/physical space characterized by stacks of books everywhere, constant purchases, passionate discussions, and a few other things. All those elements coalesce into strange behavior. Trust me, I know. Here are ten things most hardcore bookworms do.
1. Constantly buy books
We buy books. We buy books all the time. We buy books when we don't have money for other things, and when we have money for other things we buy more books than usual. We think in terms of buying books first and then about food, rent, and the electric bill. We buy books minutes after having to walk around stacks of unread books to leave the house. It doesn't matter that the apocalypse could come tomorrow and we could spend the rest of our lives reading and not run out of reading material. What matters is that we have books to read if we want to read them. We buy books because they are great and smell good and feel right and occupy empty space and they're our friends.
2. Buy the same book more than once
"I don't have this edition." "This cover is too amazing to pass up." "This one is signed." "This is the one I had when I was a kid." "This is only a dollar!" "I'll keep it around and give it away to someone later." I've even used this one to rationalize the purchase of a third edition of Langston Hughes' The Dream Keeper and Other Poems: "I mean, I have two editions already, but this one's illustrated!" Yeah, hardcore bookworms will come up with amazing reasons why they "need" to buy a book they already have. On the other hand, we will also buy the same book twice by accident. It's there and it's affordable...and we're not going to drive home and look through our piles for it: we're going to buy it again.
3. Judge people by their books/shelves
I know this one is tough to swallow. I also know some of you will debate that you're better human beings than me and you are above and beyond judging others. Well, fuck it, I'm being brutally honest here and being judgmental has kept me alive this far, so I'm gonna keep doing it. If you invite me to your house and give me a tour of it and I don't see a single book, I kinda want to get out of there because who the hell doesn't own at least a couple of books? A house without books is like a body without a soul. If you do have some books, us bookworms will find a way to sniff them out and study them. Then, silently and with a smile on our faces, we will judge you. John Waters said "If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck them,” and I think most bookworms agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly. Likewise, we will probably change the way we feel about you based on the quality of the books on your shelves. For me, the books you own/read and the way you treat animals are the two factors that lie at the top of the list. You read good shit and you're good to animals, I'll get down with you even if you're a mercenary. Is this horrible? Yes. Is this unfair because "good books" is a subjective term? Yes. Does it matter to us? Nope. Will we change or stop doing it? Yeah...no.
4. Get ridiculously excited about new books
We've had a bad day at work, but then we come home to a package. Inside that package is the new book we've been waiting for. Day made. The gloom that preceded the opening of that package disappears like morning fog once the sun comes out. We even get excited when a writer whose work we love announces a new book. Sure, it's months away, sometimes a year or more into the future, but we know about it now and we get excited about it now because books are awesome.
5. Obsess about which books to take on a trip
I sometimes bring less shirts than I'll need and I've had to wash my socks and hang them to dry on the curtain rod in hotels across the world, but I always bring some great reading material. I also bring much more than I'll need because...reasons. Normal people will bring their electronic reading device or a novel when they go on a trip. Not hardcore bookworms. No, we bring five or six novels. We might bring something we're in the middle of and a few new books to crack open along the way. We are experts at airport survival. We don't watch the crappy movies on the airplane. We don't care if we're alone on the plane. We got books, so we're good.
6. Keep books everywhere
This is not a joke; I really mean everywhere. We have books in the car, in our backpack, on top of the desk, in the living room, on the floor, inside our backpack, on the kitchen counter, in the bathroom, next to the bed, next to the sofa, in the shelves...you get the point. I even installed a single shelf on top of my toilet because you never know when you might have to stay locked in there for some bizarre reason. When we move, the books are a priority. When we clean, the books get cleaned first. When the water is coming in under the door, we save the books first and fuck the furniture.
7. We read everywhere and at any time
That's why we keep books everywhere. We read at home, in the car, in the bathroom, on the bus, on the train, while waiting for a doctor's appointment, while in line at the grocery store, at the bus stop, while waiting for the water to boil...hell, some hardcore bookworms prepare a nice bath and read while half submerged in warm water. We also read at any time. It's never too early or too late to read. It's never too cold or too hot to read. We just read. Reading is what we do.
8. Read various books simultaneously
Another tricky one. Some folks read two books at once. Some read five simultaneously. Some read ten because they like the constant shifting and enjoy variety and not getting tired of the same book. As a reviewer, I sometimes read 40 books at once. It's glorious. It's easy to see how the multiple-book mayhem happens. You're somewhere and someone whose opinion you respect recommends a book. That book is on your shelves or stacks. You crack it open. The next day, there's a new novel you've been waiting for in the mailbox, so you immediately start reading it. If you're a hardcore bookworm, you've been there, and you know that, despite what some regular readers think, there's nothing special or particularly challenging about it. Just like you can watch a few different shows or talk to different people every day, you can switch between books all you want.
9. Have a strange concept of time
Sometimes we think of time as pages or chapters. Other times, we completely lose track of time. You have to shower and get ready, but you want to read one more chapter. Congrats, an hour goes by and you're late. Again. We've all been there. For hardcore bookworms, there are times in which a narrative overpowers everything else and holds us hostage for an inordinate amount of time. Read through the night and be tired at work? Sure. Be late to an event because we were reading? A bunch of times. Cancel something you didn't feel like going to because that novel is just so damn good? Yup.
10. Get passionate about books
Hardcore bookworms are usually very passionate people. I didn't say loud, I said passionate. Talk to one of us about reading, our favorite authors, or anything else having to do with books and you'll see. Passion also translates into the ability to academically deconstruct a narrative in order to discuss it...and then turn around and have a screaming match about the fact that people who refuse to use bookmarks and instead bend the cover/pages back are monsters (looking at you, Max Booth III). We love books and we want others to love books as much as we do, and that's a good things because books and reading make the world a better, smarter place.
The funniest thing about this list? I could probably go to 20 without having to stop and think about it for long. But I won't do that. I want you to tell me what you love (or hate!) about hardcore bookworms in the comments. You know, so everyone can read it. Happy reading!
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