Writers are funny about books. We have a love-love relationship with them from our earliest moments. 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. All I know is I just flat out love books and every writer I know does too. You might even describe us as “obsessed with the printed word.”
"Book traits" most writers share:
- Every writer I've ever met can talk books for hours and discuss characters in grand detail.
- We have To Be Read piles (TBR for short) that are taller than small children.
- Our favorite authors and characters become our friends.
It takes a lot of love to go through what we must do to yank our stories from our hearts onto the page. And like I said above, most writers are funny about books, especially their own books.
Here are 10 things I know about you and your books, even if we've never met.
1. You read in bed after "lights out" when you were a child.
It might have been a flashlight, or a lantern, or (if you're young enough) the light from your phone. When your person-in-charge confiscated your first light source, 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.
2. 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. Every writer I know has revisited a favorite series (or two or three) during this pandemic.
3. I know you get uncomfortable when you are "bookless."
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. (Do you keep a Kindle available and a bag of books in your car trunk like I do?)
4. 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.
5. I am certain that if you named 10 best friends from the various periods of your life, at least half of them would be book characters or authors. We laughed and cried with those characters. Those authors reached into our hearts and showed us who we were, or at least who we wanted to become.
6. Piles of free books by your most cherished authors give you that same zing of attraction you felt the first time you saw the boy or girl you crushed on in high school. That feeling of "Ooooooooooooo, everyone go away so I can be with THIS one."
7. When you get the chance to meet your favorite author(s), your tongue gets tied in knots and the idea of speaking to them gives you an extreme physical reaction. I remember the first time I saw Nora Roberts, Dean Koontz, Janet Evanovich, and James Patterson. On those four occasions, I Could. Not. Move. I could only stare at them with absolute rapt focus while everyone else simply faded away.
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 asking me first.)
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'll buy a copy of your beloved book from the used bookstore and loan them that copy. 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.
I could easily find ten more things to share about writers and their reading habits but I want to hear from you. What are your book rituals and quirks? Do any of these habits sound familiar? Share your stories down in the comments!
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By day, Jenny provides corporate communications and LinkedIn advice for professional services firms. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction, and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.