From our earliest moments, most writers are avid readers. We devour books – for story, for Craft, for new worlds and new ideas.
We have To Be Read piles (TBR for short) that are taller than small children. Our favorite authors and characters become our friends.
I don’t know if we become students of the written word because we love to read or if we read because we were born to love the written word. All that chicken and egg Zen is well beyond me.
I just flat out love books and every writer I know does too. You might even describe us as “obsessed with the printed word.” It takes a lot of love to go through what we must do to yank our stories from our hearts onto the page.
If you are a writer, there are things that I know about you that I don’t know about the other readers I meet:
1. I know you read odd things in odd places.
If you are stuck somewhere without a book, you will begin reading any words available – shampoo bottles, food labels, billboard signs. Whatever. Books and magazines are preferred, but in a pinch, any words will smooth your soul.
2. You read by flashlight in bed at night when you were a child.
When your person-in-charge confiscated it, you waited 5 minutes before pulling the back-up light from its crafty hidey-hole. If they were on to you and confiscated the back-up, you tilted the pages to try to read by the light from the hall.
3. When a book touches you, it is a safe bet that you will not only remember the details of that story, characters, etc…you will also remember where you were the first time you read it and what you were doing that day.
4. I am certain that if you named 10 best friends from the various periods of your life (and were being honest), at least half of them would be book characters, authors or titles.
5. You have different books for different moods. These are your go-to books when you’re in the grip of overwhelming emotion. You keep reading through that stash of books until the feeling gets a little more manageable.
6. Piles of free books by your most cherished authors gives you that same zing of attraction that you felt the first time you saw your true love.
7. When you go to a writing conference or a book event attended by your favorite author(s), your tongue gets tied in knots and the idea of speaking to them gives you an extreme physical reaction. (I blush, nearly every time.)
8. You have rituals associated with your books.
Whether it’s the way you clean them, sort them, store them or lend them, there is something particular you do with your books. And it makes you feel happy and peaceful when you look at your books after you’ve done it.
(For me, it’s the way I order them and which shelf or room they’re in. My husband knows: don’t be moving my books without telling me. It morphs me into the Devil Wife.)
9. On the touchy subject of lending…writers are quite particular about loaning their books.
I know that when someone borrows a treasured book from you and doesn’t return it – or worse, passes it on to someone else without asking you first – your friendship with them changes. You’re probably still their friend, but you’ll either “forget” to loan them books in the future or you buy a copy from the used bookstore as a back-up and loan them that.
There is an A-List of book-borrowers in your life and you love to have coffee with these people.
10. When a book touches your spirit and transports you to a place you’ve never been, it’s not uncommon for you to read the last page, turn the book over and start at Page 1 to figure out how the author did that.
There are more things that I know about writers and their reading habits but I want to hear from all of you. What are your book rituals? Do you non-writers have book rituals too?? Which of the ten “habits” made you laugh?
About Jenny Hansen
Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after her toddler Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.
When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA and here at Writers In The Storm. Jenny also writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.