I’ll never forget the day my husband came home from work and asked me why I had moved all of our books from the dining room library and the upstairs hallway down to our unfinished basement. I quite reasonably explained that tornado season had begun (my first in our new home in the Midwest) and I wanted to stow our library for safekeeping. The smile he gave me was one of restrained amusement, but he knew better than to poke fun, because I was serious.
It’s the same smile many literary enthusiasts with their own preferences and idiosyncrasies recognize from non-readers who find their quirks comical. And while others may find these habits peculiar, every book smelling, acknowledgements reading, used-bookstore shunning literati knows it’s all part of the reading experience.
Well-read friends and relatives I’ve spoken with feel the same way about the power of the written word, and proudly revealed some of their own endearing quirks with which most bibliophiles may identify.
1. The exhilaration of deciding how to organize your bookshelves. Alphabetically. By author. Genre. Color and size. The possibilities are endless. And thrilling.
2. Incorporating an extreme vetting system for lending books. After being burned too many times by friends, family, or co-workers who have misplaced, damaged, or never returned a book, it’s only natural to put stringent lending criteria in place.
3. Imposing strict guidelines with regard to dog-earring, underlining, eating near or around, or otherwise tarnishing a borrowed book (assuming you pass the lending test).
4. Making a spouse or partner read the same books so you have someone to talk to about them when you finish. Guilty.
5. Reading the last paragraph halfway through a book because you’ve become so emotionally invested in the narrative, you can’t wait until the end.
6. Forcing yourself to finish a book you’re not enjoying after you’ve reached a certain point or page number (while simultaneously feeling as though you’re wasting time not reading something better).
7. Experiencing irrational anger when the price sticker doesn’t peel off neatly without leaving scuffs or sticky residue.
8. Refusing to purchase books with the movie poster cover because it somehow cheapens the story.
9. The inability to begin another book until you’ve finished what you’re currently reading.
10. Separating the “read” books from the “TBR” book pile, and feeling a combination of excitement and anxiety as the latter pile grows.
What are some of your most endearing book quirks?