As wonderful as reading is, there are pitfalls to being a fanatic.
Never fear. I’m not just going to point out why obsessively reading can sometimes be a bad thing, I’ll share some tips to address these pitfalls and turn them into merely adorable quirks. Let’s just consider this post a bookworm intervention to prevent or treat the unfavorable results of constantly reading.
1. Books Can Look Messy
When you own so many books, they take over every nook and cranny. Although Dr. Seuss would be delighted about it, it can easily and quickly appear cluttered, to put it mildly. While some of us like rooms filled and “cluttered” with books, it can be uncomfortable and messy-looking to others. To prevent being nominated to be on the show Hoarding: Buried Alive, we need to make sure our books are organized.
Solution: There are thousands of book organization options from clever and adorable storage containers, to arranging books by color, to organizing your books by size to save space. If you can stay on top of the mounting piles of books, your house doesn’t have to be that house.
2. Reading Can Be Lonely
Sometimes we bookworms prefer the company of paper, ink, and our imaginations over the company of people. And that’s the way some like it most of the time. But when you love fictional characters more than real people, it can be difficult to make friends or meet people who share your particular reading interests.
Solution: find others who share your affinity for reading by joining or creating book clubs, make friends with your local librarians (who love books too and are usually really, really nice), or put down the book just for a little bit and talk to people about other interests you have. You do have other interests, right? Well, if you don’t, you can try developing some.
3. Less Time For “Being Cool”
When you spend your free time reading, you don’t watch shows that “everyone talks about.” From my own experience, I end up just sitting there with a blank expression on my face and feeling dumb. And confused. How do people have enough time to watch all those different shows?
Solution: You have to be picky about the shows and movies you decide to share with your precious reading time. As much as we’d love to be able to be completely caught up on all popular shows, last night’s sports matches, and local and global news and read our beloved books, it isn’t physically possible. Because there are only 24 hours in a day, and that isn’t going to change, you can pick your favorites and then just do research on the ones you feel you need to at least be aware of or informed about to function with your friends and co-workers. Yes, I’m suggesting you fake it or bluff as best as you can. Or if you just don’t care, admit that you aren’t interested in that stuff and find something else to talk about with them. I’ve done both, and I think they both have their place and time.
4. Lack Of Sleep
You can’t call yourself a book lover if you haven’t ever stayed up until at least 2 in the morning still wide eyed and anxiously flipping pages. The problem is that we have all the other stuff we need to do the next day: drive, work, take care of kids, live.
Solution: sneak in sleep (and more reading) whenever you can. Take a cat nap; just don’t forget to set an alarm. As much as we don’t want to do it, we also need to bite the bullet, turn off the light or device, and turn in for the night. The book will still be there the next day. Go to sleep. Believe me, I know this is easier said than done.
5. Interacting With People Who Haven’t Read What You Have
Difficulties can arise when those around you, even if you love those people, don’t share your interests. When you make a funny or clever allusion to a book, they don’t get it. You need to learn to “play nice” and deal with people who don’t appreciate your exact reading tastes.
Solution: try to compartmentalize yourself and your likes. Some of my siblings and my parents like to read, but generally we don’t share similar likes in what we read. So we focus on other things that we like to do together. We have created a pool of mutual allusions to draw from. My siblings and I can have full conversations in quotes from films we have seen together and make perfect sense. No, I can’t use some of my witty literary quips with my family, but I don’t hold it against them. They are still my kind of weird in other ways.
Well, let’s talk about one that is a lot tougher to handle. How do you interact with people who don’t like to read much at all? Some comments and conversations can make you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut.
Solution: I’m lucky enough that I haven’t really encountered this in my family, but I do know some people who fit this description in the “friend” category. If they really don’t like to read and make comments about the books you love, I only have one piece of advice–breathe. Just breathe. Breathe in the calming scent of book pages to soothe yourself, so you don’t lash out.
6. The Movie Version
That dreaded moment when you see that a book you love is going to be made into a movie. You’re filled with skepticism and apprehension. Are they going to follow the book or at least stay true to the spirit of the book, or will they change everything? The movie version can be an anxiety-inducing experience for a devoted fan of the book.
Solution: sometimes skepticism is deserved. But other times, the movie does the book justice and even enhances our reading of the text. When I see a movie adaptation of a book, I usually go in with two sets of expectations–both low to prevent disappointment. If the movie sticks to the book, I expect that the screenwriters had to omit some details, change lines, and change scenes. If the movie deviates from the book, I only ask myself whether the movie was entertaining, thought provoking, etc. in its own right. Prepping myself in this way usually works. I can be pleasantly surprised or disappointed based on reasonable, objective expectations, not based on an emotional connection to the book.
7. Choosing Favorites
What is your favorite book? I hate that question so much, but any time I say that I love to read, people ask me. I hem and haw.
Solution: I usually list the genres I like to read and then some examples in each genre. By the time I’ve finished listing books 10 minutes later, the person who asked me usually wishes they hadn’t.
8. Money For Books
Buying books isn’t cheap, just like everything else these days. When you collect or hoard books on a regular basis, you probably have to make room in the monthly budget for new books. When we have to choose between hot water and books, it’s a coin toss.
Solution: there are a surprising number of ways to save money to get books. You can get great discounts on ebooks for cheap and public domain ebooks for free. You can also learn how to budget better using these books.
If all else fails, go to the library. Free books! Free, people!
9. Confusing Feelings
You desperately want to know the ending, but you don’t ever want the book to end. You love going to a bookstore but you feel the pain of the cost you pay when you leave. You both love and hate sad endings because they make you think, but you want the characters to be happy.
Solution: unfortunately, not much can be done to get rid of these conflicting emotions, so embrace them. They are what make us human and empathetic toward others. Enjoy the paradox, my friends.
10. Escapism Can Go South
Bookworm or not, we all need to escape the realities of life somehow every now and then, and out of the options, reading is by far the best one. After all, how else can we live a thousand lives without living vicariously through book characters? We learn so much about life and ourselves from reading. However, immersing so far into fiction can lead us to want the stories in the books we read and dislike our own lives. We get swept away with other people’s lives and stories. Usually it’s a good thing, but it can actually become addicting. I know I’ve gone through times when I wished for nothing more than to enter the story of a book permanently and never return to reality. It can be a slippery slope.
Solution: we are going to keep reading, just as we should, but instead of enjoying life through the stories of others alone, let’s try to make our own lives a little more interesting, a little more meaningful, so that returning to reality won’t be so hard. Again, I know this is harder done than said. I’m still working on this myself!
How have you solved your book lover problems?
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