What The Book-Lover In Your Life ACTUALLY Means When They Say These 18 Things

by E. Ce Miller

Do you ever look at the bookworm in your life and think: is there more to what you’re saying than is actually being said here? Or maybe your book-loving bestie drops terms like “DNF” and “TBR”, and you’ve been too embarrassed about being behind on the latest lingo (YOLO, after all) to ask her to clarify. Are you friends with a reader who always has an irrefutable excuse for canceling plans at the last minute (and is somehow ALWAYS up to date on the latest literary buzz?) If any of this sounds familiar, chances are you know a bookworm who needs decoding — and this handy guide to things all book-lovers say (and what they really mean) is here to help you make sense of it all.

The fact is, being a book-lover is like any other niche specialty: we have our own lexicon, and sometimes what we say isn’t, exactly, always what we mean. (And yeah, we’ve never met an excuse to stay home and read that we didn’t like. Don’t take it personally.)

This is your (preliminary) guide to decoding the bookworm in your life — 18 things all book lovers say, and what they (aka: we) really mean.


"You really have to read this book!"

What we mean: You have to drop everything that you’re doing, and go home, and read this book immediately, because we're dying to talk to somebody about it.


"Have you finished reading that book I lent you, yet?"

What we mean: We are dying to talk to you about it and/or we really kinda want it back and/or we're secretly amazed that anybody could possibly read so slow, like what else are you doing with your life?


“What did you think of that book I lent you?”

What we mean: We’re genuinely interested in your opinion, with no emotional connection to your response. Feel free to share openly.


“Did you like that book I lent you?”

What we mean: We’re testing the waters. This will determine whether you’ll enjoy the privilege of being lent one of our children… urm, I mean books… again.


“Didn’t you just love that book I lent you?”

What we mean: We can’t be friends anymore if the answer is no.


“Let’s grab coffee next Tuesday!”

What we mean: (At the café in the back of our favorite indie bookstore, so we can casually browse books while half-listening to you prattle on about your latest Tinder date.)


“It was interesting…”

What we mean: That novel you lent us was sort of terrible and we're not even sure we know who you are anymore.


“I DNFed it.”

What we mean: "DNF" as in "did not finish." Do you not hang out in online book forums, too?


“That one is at the top of my TBR pile.”

What we mean: "TBR" as in "to be read." Duh.


“What Hogwarts House would you be in?”

What we mean: Are we of the same cloth, you and I?


“Which 'Little Woman'/Jane Austen heroine/Baby-sitters Club member are you?”

What we mean: See above.


“Ugh, the bus is running SO LATE. I might not make it in time.”

What we mean: We were reading and lost track of time.


“I’m so sorry, something came up and I can’t make it tonight.”

What we mean: We're halfway through a pretty good book and would really rather not put it down.


“You know, I’m not feeling so great. I think I’m going to stay in tonight.”

What we mean: We're in the middle of a total page-turner, and it would actually cause us physical pain to have to put it down and leave the house now.


“Actually, I just found out I have to work late tomorrow night, and won’t be able to make it.”

What we mean: We already know we'd rather stay in tomorrow night (and all of the nights) reading, so we're not even going to bother.


"I love the smell of old books."

What we mean: We also love the smell of new books. And gently-worn books. And the boxes books come in. And photocopy machines. And cardstock... The list goes on. If we could take a bath in the smell of books, we would.


*Sobs quietly.*

What we mean: We're thinking about the fact that no matter how quickly we read, we'll never be able to read all the books we want to, in this lifetime or the next twelve.