This is potentially unsurprising, but as someone who writes a lot and reads a lot, I interact with a lot of other bookish people online. I’m in groups for readers of particular genres, have made friends with people who enjoy the same tropes I do, connect with fellow writers, and talk books with the same nerdy friends I’ve had for years.
Sometimes, though, I’m not really sure I belong.
I blame the internet. There’s a weird aspect of internet culture that is all about hyperbole. Everything anyone says ends up being wildly exaggerated. Sometimes for sake of humor, sometimes to spark outrage. And one side effect of this phenomenon is that, when I sit down to read in my groups, all the ridiculous memes everyone shares make me feel like I can’t relate.
It’s weird how little of what other readers think is “relatable bookish content” doesn’t apply to me at all. I don’t have problems with a massive backlog of books in my to-be-read pile, as I typically only buy books when I am ready to read them. Right now my backlog is the largest it’s ever been: four books, one of which I’m currently reading, and three I’ll read before the end of the year. The only reason I even bought four books at once was because I found them while traveling and I didn’t know if I’d be able to pick them up locally. I don’t lose sleep over exciting books–though I have grouchily stayed awake until the next scene break or the end of the chapter, just so I’m stopping in a good place. And I don’t have issues with putting my reading habits aside to take care of other things.
I don’t have problems hoarding books–my bookshelves mostly hold things that haven’t yet found a place to live in our new home, because I don’t keep that many books. And I don’t keep that many books because the only things that earn a place on my shelves are things I intend to reread, or books that have sentimental value. Nothing more.
Maybe it’s weird that the hyperbole that surrounds bookish culture makes me uncomfortable, but I surely can’t be the only person who nervously chuckles and can’t relate. I’m stereotypically bookwormish in other ways: I like snuggling in warm blankets and cuddling my cat while I read. I have an opinion on the Oxford comma. I prefer tea to coffee. I love the smell of books. And I have glasses I’m supposed to be wearing, but they’re not that comfortable, so I really only use them when I drive or am playing a video game with particularly small UI text.
I’m just not like those bookworms, so when it comes to my reader groups, I sometimes find it hard to connect.
Like I don’t really understand what it’s like to be a book person.
Like I’m not nerdy enough.
Like when it comes to the stories I’ve always loved to get lost in, maybe I’m a little too down-to-earth.
I don’t know.