“Why do you need three different editions of the same book?” “Will you stop correcting everyone’s grammar at the dinner table?” “Can’t we just watch the movie, please?”
Anyone who breathes books has at one time or other been on the receiving end of the above comments. Book nerds are the guardians of the written word and have probably gotten high from the smell of a library book. With the world going digital, I wonder if there’s a way to bottle that fragrance for future generations because I weep to think that someday I’ll stand before a class of student’s who’ve never smelled a book.
If you have ever secretly believed that god won’t let you die before you finish your ever-growing to-read pile, you’ll appreciate and celebrate these 10 things.
1. You quote literature in normal conversation
Once, when I was in middle school, a classmate challenged me to a fight. I’d just finished reading Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights so it seemed entirely natural and just to respond to the threat in the manner that Heathcliff once famously responded to Edgar Linton:
“I am mortally sorry you are not worth knocking down.”
This probably explains my lack of popularity in school.
2. You name your pets after literary characters
I once agreed to go on a date with a man purely on the attraction that he had a cat named Sherlock. This seemed an entirely logical basis for a lifetime of love, and I remain convinced that had I owned a cat named John, this man would be the father of my children today.
3. You’re everyone’s resource for book recommendations
A few years ago, a friend preparing for vacation called to ask me for book recommendations he could read on the plane. I replied via text and heard nothing for three days. Just when I’d begun to think I might have accidentally killed him, he called back. “Thanks,” he said. “But I told you I’m going on vacation for two weeks, right? Not to spend an eternity in purgatory.” I mumbled something about variety and then quickly ended the call on the pretense of having to walk the dog.
4. You consider it a deal-breaker if your date doesn’t read
People fall back on the “read any good books lately” question as a cliché conversation starter, but we really need to learn to harness the power of this relationship Litmus test. Dating a book nerd is serious business, and only a fellow bibliophile can keep pace with the obscure Jane Austen references or the conversation sprinkled with the witticism of Oscar Wilde.
5. You’ve had crushes on literary characters
Three words: Edward Fairfax Rochester. I read Jane Eyre when I was 12. Nothing seemed more romantic than a dark, brooding hero with a richly furnished mansion and a mysterious secret. Okay, so there was that tiny problem of keeping his wife locked in the attic, but a girl can make a mistake. Live and learn, and next time, choose your heroes more wisely.
6. You’re everyone’s official grammar checker
About once a week, someone asks me when and when not to use a semicolon or the difference between a run-on and a fused sentence. (They’re one and the same, by the way. You know, because you asked). It might seem tedious, but the people who make a living as professional editors probably aren’t complaining.
7. You feel you’re doing things backwards if you don’t read a book before watching its film adaptation
There is a natural order to things, and reading the book before seeing the movie is a cardinal rule of book nerds everywhere. Literary adaptations, when handled well, are often brilliant, masterful works of art in and of themselves, but some familiarity with the original story can lend greater enjoyment to the viewing experience. Not to mention, it creates fertile ground for debating such questions as the overwhelmingly unnerving presence of all of those shrunken heads in the adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
8. You’ve christened your house or apartment after a famous fictional residence
I may or may not affectionately refer to my apartment as “Little Pemberley.” Perhaps it doesn’t quite measure up to the size and splendor of an estate in Derbyshire complete with Mr. Darcy, but imagination can work wonders.
9. You own multiple editions of your favorite books
Hardcover, paperback, annotated, anniversary – name it, you own it. Critical editions are your guilty pleasure with their moderately tangential footnotes and reproductions of original manuscripts in the author’s handwriting. Don’t judge.
10. You occasionally have a panic attack about dying before finishing a book
I generally make it known that I want to be buried with a book, probably Charles Dickens’s Bleak House because I’m going to need something to pass the time in purgatory. This is irrelevant, however, because I’m convinced that if I continue adding books to my “must read” list, I’m never going to die.