As a teenager, Rory Gilmore was my spirit animal: she may or may not have influenced many an outfit choice, my addiction to caffeine… and my decision to apply to colleges in the northeastern U.S. One of my favorite Rory scenes happens well into Season 2, which is when Rory can’t zip up her backpack before school because it’s overstuffed with books. Lorelai asks her skeptically why she lugs so much around. One of TV’s most iconic readers, Rory answers that she doesn’t know what she’ll be in the mood for during her morning bus commute: essays, a novel, short stories.
I’ll admit to indulging in that same habit — though I will neither confirm nor deny whether or not I’ve ever brought a book with me to a party. In truth, I am prone to bringing books around with me anywhere: dinner, the doctor’s, road trips, a long walk — even when I know it’s unlikely I’ll be opening them. Many a head has turned at the hollow thunk my purse makes when I drop it at my feet. Travel can be especially challenging: if, like Rory, I can’t make up my mind on what book I’ll need for my morning commute to work, how am I supposed to predict the moods of a few days? A couple of Christmases ago, my dad gave me a Kindle in hopes of fixing my bad habit (and remedying my now-chronic back pain). Owning a Kindle actually has helped, but it hasn’t solved everything. I am after all, a paperback loyalist, so my Kindle just ends being one of the many things weighing down my bag.
As readers, we have our many quirks and eccentricities. My habit of carrying books around rivals my penchant for book shopping, but that is just one of many habits I’ve acquired as a lifelong reader. Don’t tell me you’re not guilty of some of these habits, too:
Lugging Books Around
My own worst habit — or at least the one I get made fun of the most. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something so comforting about always having a book on hand. I guess if it were up to me, I’d have time to read a ton every single day and so carrying a book around is just wishful thinking. I also just like reading in different places: a train, a coffee shop, my aunt’s living room while dinner is being set on the table. I think it might also have to do with wanting to keep a book I’m immersed in close, until I can actually finish it.
We’re readers — we like to be surrounded by books. That’s why we spend so much time in libraries and bookstores. I don’t know about you, but I’m very much drawn to books as objects. Yes, they’re a pain to carry around — and all hell breaks loose when you’re moving — but my books are some of my most prized possessions. I have a few autographed books, some that have been given to me as gifts from people I love, others I’ve bought used and have fascinating notes or personal inscriptions. (My personal favorite? A copy of Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn formerly owned by who I think was an elementary school student — in messy scrawl, he or she writes the funniest, sparsest, surprisingly apt little summaries at the end of each chapter.)
All of Those Literary References
I try to avoid them, but far too often something happens during my day that reminds me of that time in Mansfield Park when Mary Crawford… OK, I’ll stop. To be honest, I’ve gotten some weird looks from this one — but I’ve also identified other hard-core readers, i.e. the only people who chuckle at my oft-pretty-nerdy references.
Especially I'm knee-deep into a good book, it can be easy to forget that there’s a world outside those pages. I’ve certainly been guilty of putting the world on pause while I’m immersed in a book, even when I have to be functional and, you know, do things and talk to people.
I’m a pretty quiet, even-tempered person, but I have been known to get into many a heated argument on whether or not Jane Austen is one of the greatest writers in the English canon (PLEASE... the fact that this is even an argument...) It goes the other way, too: I get weirdly excited when someone I meet loves one of my favorite books. Suddenly, there’s so much to talk about. Or if there isn’t, you know you’ve met a kindred soul — and that’s always a good day.
Fierce Anger at Disloyal Adaptations
Along the same lines, a bad movie or television adaptation can leave me shaking in my seat. Readers understand that it’s hard to compress so many pages into a two-hour film (TV adaptations actually tend to do pretty OK.) But when the tone of the book is off, why even bother? (Yes, I’m looking at you Golden Compass.)
Using Anything As a Bookmark
Fliers, movie stubs, CVS receipts, Chapstick, my sunglasses, a spoon, other books. Anything goes when it comes to avoiding dog-earing a beloved paperback.
Gifting Only Books
I’ve been known to spend way too much time trolling Goodreads for books I think my friends or family might like. I try not to think about it too much, but I’m fairly certain all my loved ones are pretty sick of getting book after book during birthdays and holidays. The thing is, as readers, we can’t just stop at gift-giving. We have to hound people until they’ve read the book and can discuss it with us — which, I guess, essentially means we’re pretty selfish gift-givers.
Seeing Other People As Book Characters
One of my college English professors once said that after you get to a certain age and have met enough people, you start seeing everyone as types. I think this may be even truer of book people — ultimately, we have so much to compare others to. I’ve certainly been guilty of typecasting people as a Jo March or Estella Havisham — and I often find myself trying to understand or predict others’ behaviors through the lens of compelling book characters.
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