Columns > Published on September 9th, 2019

Ten Problems Only Booksharks Have

Shark image by GEORGE DESIPRIS

Let's get the obvious question out of the way. Booksharks is a term I created after getting tired of seeing readers referred to as bookworms. We read ferociously. We never stop. We hunt exciting narratives. We discuss books aggressively. We move through bookstores with purpose and killer instinct. We are predators, and "bookworm" just doesn't cut it anymore. We're fucking booksharks. 

Moving on! If books are a huge part of your life, you have a unique set of problems only others like you will understand. Everyone else will either make fun of or simply ignore them because they can't relate. The list is long, but this is the internet and we have to keep things relatively short, so here ten of them. 

1. You're always waiting on the mail

I get super excited about mail. Boxes. Packages. I know most of it will be books. Most people check their mailbox once a day. I check mine multiple times. I get sad about not having books in the mail on Sundays. Yeah, there are always useless loan offers and bills, but seeing those books arrive is like getting a gift even if you paid for them. People see you walking to the mailbox all giddy and they probably think you're a freak. You panic when you go on a trip and know the mail is going to pile up, and maybe something will happen and you won't get all of it. You just know it. 

2. You want more books

Fuck that bill you haven't paid. Life's too short; go buy and read awesome books.

You have books. You have books on your bookshelves and in your car. You have books next to the television and a few in your bathroom. There are books in your bedroom and at least one in your backpack. There are books somewhere out there heading your way in a truck or a USPS van. None of that matters: you want more. You stop reading to go on Amazon to look at books you want to buy. You read a review and want to buy the book. You get in a romantic or scary or post-apocalyptic mood and the desire to acquire novels that fit said mood becomes overwhelming. You know what? Treat yourself. Fuck that bill you haven't paid. Life's too short; go buy and read awesome books. 

3. There's never enough time 

You have to work. You have to eat. You have to hit the gym. You have to put up with people and get groceries and do laundry and maybe sleep from time to time. All those things cut into your reading. You wish you had a few more hours in the day. Just one more hour to read a couple more chapters. You wish the work week was only three days long. You wish your lunch break was longer so you could sit there and read. You sit there at work and think about the fact that you'd rather be reading and it sucks, but you persevere because you need that paycheck... and that money will be used to buy books. It feels like there's never enough time. But stay strong, booksharks, and remember—you might get a vacation at some point. 

4. Mufuckas think they can interrupt your reading 

Listen, an open book in front of my eyes means I'm ignoring my phone, the world around me, and you. Booksharks get angry whenever they escape into another world and someone yanks them back into this one to talk about the weather or golf or some other irrelevant shit. We hate that. We want to stay in our literary cocoon as long as we can. When people interrupt someone's reading time, they are shattering something special. The best gift you can give a writer is silence if they're writing. The same goes for readers when they're reading. 

5. You need a bigger place 

For years folks would argue with me that ebooks were the future. Now real books have made a comeback and space is once again an issue. Hell, it never stopped being an issue for some of us. Books occupy space, and we need more of it to fit more books. It's an equation that seems simple, but acquiring a larger space is extremely complicated. I feel your pain, fellow booksharks. I truly hope some day you can afford a mansion.

6. You get angry when people say dumb stuff about books 

"I don't like reading," someone says. You play it cool. Whatever. People have a right to dislike reading...but your brain still screams "You're an idiot!" Someone says "I only read James Patterson" and you look at them wondering what the hell is wrong with them. Your intellect says, "That's okay" and "As long as they're reading..." and "People can read whatever they want and you know it," but none of that works. You want to tell them that's dumb. You want to tell them they're missing out. You get angry. Then that Marie Kondo lady says you should only have 30 books or whatever and you flip your lid. You know whatever she says doesn't affect you. You know her system might work for other people. However, if you're like me, you have more than 30 books in your car alone. There are probably three times that in your TBR pile. You obsess about getting more books and anything that doesn't align with that pisses you off. It's okay. Be angry. Tell people real happiness is a house full of books. You know it is.  

Then that Marie Kondo lady says you should only have 30 books or whatever and you flip your lid... you have more than 30 books in your car alone.

7. Books are expensive 

I know, sadly, that not everyone has a superb used book store near their house. I also know that my status as reviewer helps me live the dream because there are always new books showing up at my door. I also have the superpower of emailing publishers and asking for ARCs whenever I want. That said, there's stuff I don't get or that flies under my radar. Then I can't buy a hardcover because those things are damn expensive. I also want to buy limited edition books from some of my favorite indie presses, but I don't have that kind of money. And I would buy and read about 150 graphic novels each year if I could afford it. The point is that money is short and our want list is always too long. 

8. Your TBR pile talks to you like a hurt lover 

There's the pile. It's looking at you with hurt in its eyes. You've been neglectful. You make it taller and wider and the books at the bottom know that their chances of being read diminish with every tome you add to the top. Sometime's you're outside, enjoying time with friends or watching a movie or walking in the park, and a tiny voice will come to you and whisper in your ear, "I'm waiting for you at home, baby. Don't you want to spend time with me?" Then your brain fills with images of unread books and that's all you can think about until you get home and start reading. 

9. You always feel like you're missing out on something 

Yes, booksharks suffer from FOMO. You know you're reading this book and that book and those three other books over there and the one you have in the car, but what are you NOT reading? What's missing from your TBR pile? What gem is out there that has escaped your radar? What amazing indie writer have you not discovered yet? These questions haunt you. Constantly. 

10. Nothing else satisfies you as much as reading

I live surrounded by music. I'm listening to music all day, every day. It's something I can do while at work, while driving, while at the gym, while going for a walk, etc. However, television is different. I have tried watching three series in my entire life: The Walking Dead (I quit after three seasons, which were all on Netflix), Lost (I quit after that dumb polar bear showed up), and now I'm six episodes into Mindhunter (this one I like!). You know why I stopped? Because it wasn't reading. TV just doesn't cut it for you when you have an amazing novel going. Maybe you watch a bit, but then the TBR pile starts whispering...

There are plenty more where those came from, so share some of your own troubles in the comments. Then go back to reading!

About the author

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbicide, and many other print and online venues. Y

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