I am a bookworm of the gravest degree; my love of books surpasses the limit of addiction and heads right into the quirky territory of obsession. I love books. I’m even a book sniffer; in fact the very first thing I do when I get a new book is stick my nose in it and inhale deeply. It merits me some odd and scared looks in public.
My sister and I grew up in the wonderful world of books and fairy tales. My mom continues to be one of the biggest bookworms I know. We weren’t much into video games or television growing up and save for the Saturday morning cartoons, the TV was rarely on. But stories? Boy, we loved our stories. My dad would read us bedtime stories every night, usually of the Curious George variety, and he used to do all the funny voices and faces to go along with it. He taught me how to read from a young age, and the love of the written word grew from there. Reading is amazing. Each novel is a wonderful world that exists solely within itself and you can’t read a book, any book, without it changing you just a little bit. I was always reading; every spare minute I had my nose was in a book. It probably formed the slight lone-wolf tendencies that I still have today, but sometimes people are better in books.
I won a ton of awards in elementary school for the endless book reports I used to write. Even though the teacher had only requested 25 reports over the course of the year, I always ended up with well over 100. I’d talk your ear off about every single one of them, too. The characters became real for me. It carried over into high school where my short stories gained quite a bit of national recognition, and it spurned an undergraduate degree and eventual career in journalism.
In my downtime, I’m usually good for finishing a book a day. I lose myself in it. There was only a brief period in my life where reading and I became sworn enemies: The first year of university, when I decided it would be a good idea to do a double major in literature.
Spoiler alert: Terrible idea. Awful, wretched idea.
My journalism classes were telling me to be literal, to not editorialize, to cut down “excess wordage” until only the bare facts were there. My literature classes were telling me to read meaning into things that weren’t expressed outright, to form my own opinion and take it as fact, to read between the lines and hypothesize what the author meant. It was all very counter-intuitive, especially when one is not particularly interested in early 16th century British literature. I hated that. Beowulf? Come on. Respect where it’s due, but I never understood that stuff. It wasn’t pleasant to read.
Books and I have since reconciled, and when I received a Kobo for Christmas, our relationship was taken to the next level. To this day no technology will beat actually opening a book and smelling it, flipping the pages, hearing the cover crinkle; but a Kobo means I can carry a thousand books on me at once. My excitement means that I’ve been up reading until 5 a.m. pretty much every night since Christmas.
I think reading should be encouraged, especially amongst our youth. I just want to hug every kid I see with an open book. Books are our weapon against ignorance, our tool for change. They inspire, they frighten, they caution, they bring joy … and all of those things are catalysts for change.
I usually make a trip to the bookstore at least once a week to see what’s new on the shelves, skim through a couple of potential purchases, talk with fellow bookworms about what’s worth giving a try and what to steer clear from. I could, and often do, spend hours in there. I lose all track of time and emerge feeling a bit like I fell into the rabbit hole. I have a few golden favourites of course, books that I have read so many times that the pages are dog-eared and torn, the covers smudged and creased.
Wanting to be a bit of an anonymous, book-oriented Robin Hood, I decided to revisit some favourites in the bookstore and leave a little gift in each one. After all, the people who would seek out these books are obviously my kind of people, and they deserve joy.
I wrote a few notes on some post-its and left a $5 bill in 3 of my all-time favourite books (which, by the way, you all should read). I was almost caught red-handed by a sales associate, but when she looked at me I brought the book up to my nose to hide the post-it and gave it a good sniff.
“Oh I totally do that too!” she said. We shared a knowing bookworm smile and she continued to stock the shelves.
RYOT NOTE: Reading truly is a wonderful, educational pastime. We here at RYOT think being able to read should be a basic human right, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. One in five adults can’t read or write, and there are currently approximately 67 million primary aged children who are not in school. The World Literacy Foundation is working every day to fight these statistics and improve the global literacy rate through promoting quality education and programs aimed at disadvantaged children. You can help raise literacy standard by donating to the World Literacy Foundation, or by sharing this story.