My love of reading is unparalleled. Before TV, before movies, before video games, there were books, and it’s difficult to remember a time when I wasn’t reading them (although my childhood recollections only go back so far). I have lots of fond memories of long road trips in the family car during which my parents would reward us kids with periodical surprises to stave off any whining. You can probably guess what my surprises were—the books on my shelves far outnumbered the stuffed animals. Soon the ones with pictures became ones with chapters, though to this day I can’t turn down a novel with killer illustrations. But with a passion for reading comes the occasional dilemma, like whether to socialize (or sleep) instead of holing up with a good book. Here is just some of the unorthodox behavior that book-reading brings out of me and that I trust my fellow bookworms will understand:
Bailing on parties in favor of finishing a book.
Confession: When given the choice, I’d almost always rather stay at home and put a significant dent in the latest book I’m reading than go out with friends. When I began the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, I’m pretty sure I skipped an amazing party in Brooklyn. But I can travel the world from a spot as comfortable as my couch—can you say the same is true of most social gatherings? Are they pants-optional? No and no. That’s just one of the things I appreciate about a book. It doesn’t judge you for what you’re wearing, or what you bring to the table.
Missing your stop because you get too wrapped up in the story.
I’ve been known to tune out the world when I’m particularly engrossed in a good book. If I’m not paying close attention, I’ll look up from my seat on the subway and notice I’ve missed my stop—by, like, five stops. One of the best books I read last fall, Night Film by Marisha Pessl, found me so absorbed in the scary tension of the plot that I wound up jumping out of my seat when the conductor came over the intercom—much to the amusement of my fellow commuters. Of course, missing your stop isn’t the worst thing in the world, because it just provides you with more time to read as you circle back to where you’re supposed to be.
Staying up too late when you have work the next day.
As a 20-something with the internal clock of a grandma, this can be a particularly rude awakening the morning after—especially when I have to head out the door bright and early. I once read several books in The Bridgertons series by Julia Quinn back-to-back and subsequently left myself with about four hours of sleep and work the next morning. Suffice it to say, I was in dire need of coffee.
Putting your life on hold until you get your hands on a sequel.
Lately, this means downloading the next book onto my Kindle, but back when there was a Harry Potter book released at midnight, you can bet I was always in line, eager to get my hands on the first copy. If I had more room in my apartment, I’d own all the books and handle each of them with care: No bending the pages or creasing the cover along the spine. (I didn’t even enjoy highlighting passages in my college textbooks.) When you finish the first book in, say, the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, you just HAVE to know how the story ends and you can’t get to that sequel fast enough. And forget it if the next book hasn’t even come out yet. Sometimes I don’t even start books if I know I’m going to have to wait for the follow-up, I just horde them until I’m sure my need can be satiated.
Getting waaayyy too attached to characters.
I have an unwritten rule while reading: I like to find ways to identify with every single character. Whether it’s their loyalty to their friends and family, their unshakable faith or their love for someone they care about—it helps me to connect and feel more invested in the story. Even malevolent characters are often motivated by something admirable. Now, we’re about to delve into SPOILER ALERT territory, because I’m going to tell you about several fictional characters whose deaths I have yet to fully recover from so seriously STOP READING NOW if you don’t want to know that I still mourn for Sirius Black and Dumbledore, from the aforementioned Harry Potter, Tris Prior from the Divergent series, and Ian Murray from Outlander.
Genuinely not understanding when people don’t like to read.
Devouring books isn’t for everybody, I get it. Sort of. It’s just hard for me to relate, since reading has been such a big part of my life. If you’re talking to me and you admit that the only thing you read is your monthly subscription to a magazine, don’t be surprised if I look confused. I can recall being on a date with a guy that wasn’t really going well to begin with, but then he told me he didn’t like to read. Needless to say, there wasn’t a second date. But, hey, there’s things I don’t do enough of either (like maybe sleep and socialize!), so most likely, I’ll give you book recommendations and you can, like, teach me to ride a motorcycle or something. In which case, I’ll load up an audiobook.