Am I really a bookworm?

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.

Just me?

One Reply to “Am I really a bookworm?”

  1. Interestingly, I relate to about half of them. I’m one of those who can easily accidentally stay up till 4 in the morning reading, but that being said, I’m naturally a nightowl by nature – I can do that with anything I enjoy. I have a huge backlog of books, but it’s for a few reasons.
    Partly that I see a good book and think, damn, I can’t read that right now but at the same time, I don’t want to miss my chance to buy it! And partly because in the last couple of years, I completely fell out of the habit of reading – something I’m rectifying currently. It comes down to time management more than anything, I think? xD For a while I didn’t give myself time to read. Now, I do it on the bus to work. I just read one new book – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – one I think I may write a review for (I’m thinking of starting a writing blog myself, thoughts?) because it was so damn good, and now I’m reading an old favourite – The Inheritance Cycle – to tide me in to tackle The Mortal Instruments again xD

    I don’t really get angry when I put a book down, just a little annoyed, but that’s cause I tend to hyperfocus xD As for the less than 30 books, I probably have a few more than 30, but not by much…and mostly because I don’t have space for more. I want a library room when(if?) I eventually get my own place xDD And I’m also definitely Sheldon in that last meme xD All that being said, despite relating to a lot of those, I do think some of the ‘bookworm tropes’ and the near sense of elitism that we perhaps perceive, do exist. And I get that impostor feeling, so much. The last 2-3 years, I was doing college, and I forgot to write or to read, and I barely fit art in…I don’t exactly have an excuse, I just…forgot some of my most key hobbies. It’s for a few reasons, I honestly felt like I lost myself for a bit, however part of it – and a large part at that – was just that I didn’t often feel a burn to do them anymore? I definitely felt a lot of shame for that, like I could no longer call myself a reader, or a writer. Like I wasn’t good enough. I still feel that way a lot of the time when I can’t post about a new book every week, or report some huge process with my own wip novel…

    It’s definitely not just you, Lomi, the internet kind of cultures this attitude of ‘perfection’ and exaggeration, and it’s not that we’re actually not ‘good enough’, it’s just that we handle it differently. I mean, you for example, have several other responsibilities. You’re a writer, an artist, and then there’s that you’re a mother. You balance reading with your other hobbies, whereas some may only have reading as a hobby for after all their other responsibilities are carried out, so of course that hobby becomes more intense for them. You’re definitely not alone though, for sure.

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