My friends are a metaphorical abyss into which my books tend to fall. They’re like a cosmic black hole just sucking my literature into their unyielding maws. Book grabbers. Thieves. Marauders.
But they do, it must be acknowledged, love books. It’s hard to stay mad at somebody who likes to read. Instead, I’ve decided to categorise and tag them for ease of reference. If you’re a book lover, you’ll relate to these.
1. The Book Thief
You love books so much that you just don’t give them back. It’s all very innocent, of course, but let it be known your bookcase is the product of a sustained pilfering campaign orchestrated by your sheer love of books. I never go around asking for my books back because a.) it would be uncouth and b.) books are such an innate piece of who we are that whenever somebody decides they like a book I’ve loaned them so much they want to keep it, it’s like they’ve decided instead to have that little bit of me stay with them forever. Totally not in a creepy way, I swear.
2. The Dog-Earer
You love your books like you love antiques. Worn. Rustic. Weathered. Sure, the librarians used to mount campaigns against folk of your type in their literary fortresses in days gone by but the reality is: you love books so much you wear them down. There’s no crime in loving a book so passionately that the pages tear and the corners get folded down. Except in Alabama. It’s probably illegal in Alabama.
3. The Serendipity Screamer
If you’re one of these, you read and share. And then tell everyone about how good reading and sharing is. Finished your book? Don’t keep it! Books are meant to be set free you say. So you release a book into the wild. On a park bench. On a train. On a sleeping person’s head in the park. You never know where it will end up but it doesn’t matter because you’ve shared a little knowledge or a little story with the world. And then you tell your friends how avant garde you are.
4. The Self-Conscious Reader
This person isn’t quite comfortable enough with their choice of literature (be it a bodice ripper or a detailed jam-making manifesto) so they pretend to read things like Proust and Hemingway instead. Then they start conversations about the mellifluous nature of prose while secretly hankering to get home and read about heaving chests. The self-conscious reader does not yet understand that we all have our guilty secrets, of course, and would be a lot more easy-going if and when they do.
5. The Did-Not-Finish
This person reads like staccato notes are played in music. Abruptly. Their problem is that they love books too much. They start one book, get distracted by several others, start reading them, get distracted and so on, ad infinitum. This person never quite knows how the books they started reading end, which explains why they think Elizabeth Bennett ends up marrying Ron Weasley in 1984. Or something.
6. The Underliner
Love that sentence? Underline it and save it for a rainy day! The Underliner likes an immersive reading experience and believes the margins were invented for scribbling notes in. These are usually vaguely descriptive affairs like ‘love!’ and multiple asterisks. I have an old study copy of The Great Gatsby which somebody has scrawled throughout. It’s a lovely addition to a great book but whomever took to the margins succeeded more or less in just re-wording what was already there.
7. The Reader-of-Things-You’ve-Never-Heard-Of
It’s not that this person deliberately sets out to be cool and ‘underground’, they really think that people are prone to reading the greater works of revolutionaries from sub-Saharan Africa. Innocent mistake, really. This person reads books you’ve never heard of like ‘The Greater Encyclopedia of Asian Emoticons’ and ‘A Guide to 5th Century Pottery’ written entirely on the inside lip of a clay urn.
But if the goal is simply that people are reading, then who is really complaining?
What kind of book lover are you? What have we missed?