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Closed for the Winter > Have you ever suffered for being a book worm?

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message 1: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) I'm a little chubby girl, so I'm not sure I would buy a book rather than food...but I have never been in that position. I am however referred to as the "book geek" of the family. I have taken a book to social events and parties, though I don't necessarily get it out. I normally always have one in my bag or purse, sometimes two. You never know, it would suck to finish one and then be stuck with none...

I guess I am lucky in that most of my family don't seem to make a big deal about why I read so much, or whether or not it is a good use of my time. It is just an accepted fact, that I am a book geek!



message 2: by RandomAnthony (last edited Mar 02, 2008 10:52AM) (new)

RandomAnthony Those are interesting questions. Here we go:

Have you ever had family or friends ask you why you read so much?

I don't think I've ever had anyone ask why I read a lot with the implication I should read less. Maybe people think that but don't say it. Probably. However, I often get the opposite, eg. people politely praise my reading habits. Maybe they're just polite. I don't know. I've learned that other guy readers are goldmines; that's one of the reasons why I'm glad there are so many guys on this board. In my neighborhood I pass around books with the women (curiously, however, my wife isn't much of a reader) but the neighborhood dads are non-readers. Instead they've been learning to build things or whatever and thankfully help me when I'm standing like a jackass in front of my lawn mower, trying to figure out why the machine won't start. My best friends are readers, and I work in a place where literacy is valued, so I don't think I'm in environments where people would criticize reading too much.

Have you ever been made to feel that your time reading is not well spent?

No, I don't think so. If someone were trying to imply that the message went over my head. My mother-in-law would prefer I were a hard-charging banker or something but she can shove it up her ass.

Have you ever taken a book with you to a party or social event?

Hell yes. In fact, that's how I survived family social events from a very young age through my adult life. When I was a kid I'd hole up in a spare bedroom at grandma's house on Thanksgiving or whatever with comics, magazines, and eventually books. Although I'm not anti-social (I think) I still steal off and read during extended family events. I sometimes think I have a biological predisposition to isolate myself after too much stimuli; after an hour of noise and intense interaction I need to go somewhere and cool out. I also took books to parties in college but those books were mostly bait for cute intellectual girls. You know, the types with black tights and glasses, like Lisa Loeb. No, the ladies rarely took the bait. Like Amy I always keep a couple books in the car, backpack, whatever...you never know when you'll need one.

Have you ever bought a book when it was a choice between book and food?

Well, I'm not like a starving artist, and I've never been entirely destitute, but I've bought books when I was near broke. That's when you need books...what else are you going to do but read when you don't have any money? I focused on the used bookstores then where I could snag a 500 page Dickens novel for two bucks. It's all about volume and return on the investment when you're a broke college student looking for books. Strangely, I didn't use the library much except when I was in middle school and after I had enough money to buy my own books. I wish I figured out that if I procured books from the library I could add to the food money total.

Additional thoughts:

Books are a huge facet of my personality and, well, self-image. I don't mean that I'm prancing around with a book saying "look at me! I read!" but I like talking and thinking about books. I detest "book culture" e.g. stuffy psuedo-readers turning their noses up on people who read Stephen King or comic books. It's not "we book people vs. the other non-book people" but if I find out you're a reader you're suddenly way more interesting to me than you were thirty seconds ago. I imagine people who are into cars or curling or scrapbooks or whatever feel the same way when they meed a kindred soul. I rarely meet someone who cares about Euripides or Gaiman or wants to talk about Shakespeare, so I get excited when I do. We don't even need to talk about books exclusively; just the fact you're a reader makes me curious about your thoughts on the world.

Books also gave (and continue to give) me a framework for understanding the world and expecting more from myself. My family situation growing up was far from healthy and I didn't have a lot of reliable models for how to live my life. Music and books became de facto guides for living. I devoured Aristotle's "Ethics" in part because I was hungry for tips on how to be a good person. I just read Seneca's essay on the shortness of life and the reflections upon the essay caused me to change the way I use my time. Character studies in literature contributed to the internal debate on how I should act. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that books saved my life; without books, I would not have survived some dark times. Books still are a big part of my personal evolution. You know how some people say you are what you eat? It's the same with books. Fuck anyone who tells me I shouldn't read as much as I do.



message 3: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
In my primary family I was labeled the "Brain" and the "Bookworm" out of three girls. My dad adored me and he and I have always shared a delight in knowledge and books. But he left when I was 8. My older sister teased me mercilessly my entire childhood for reading and being good in school. It's odd, but since I was surrounded by it (my mother loves to say things like "being smart isn't the only thing in the world, you know" and "you're such a snob" and "oh you and your snap case brain" as if that is a bad thing) they actually gained traction with me and by highschool I had decided that being a brainiac wasn't cool, so I started cutting class and hanging around with stoners and losers. I had more friends... even if they were a bunch of idiots. Then I got into theatre, and found something that was social and artistic at the same time. That kind of rescued me. I never stopped reading though. When I was 3 I taught myself to read and spell and I have been in love with books ever since. With words. Language. Thought. Ideas. Imagination.

My best friend is Jewish and my other close friend is Korean... neither of them can believe that my family made me feel BAD about learning. It's a completely foreign concept to them. I think there is that aspect to our culture though. That somehow being average is better. Being ignorant is cool. That stupidity rocks. If I'm a snob because I think that's crap, well, at this point I will wear it as a badge of honor.


message 4: by J (new)

J One of the things my mother always said that I never understood was "Get your nose out of that book!" My mother is not a reader. I taught myself to read and started my love affair with books long before they became a needed escape. Later, when I did need an escape from dark and dismal reality, the books were there.

Have I ever taken a book to a social event? Um, yeah. I've taken them to parties, baseball games, my in-laws house... My husband has pointed out the rudeness of this time and again. He's probably right. I have a need for space and quiet though. While I don't consider myself anti-social either, I am naturally reserved and shy. I've learned to overcome it but after a time I need to separate myself and be still. Retreating to a corner with a book puts up a kind of barrier to hide behind while I recenter.

I am never without a book, "just in case". When I was younger I always had unreliable cars and learned to never leave the house without reading material. So I always have one in my hand or hidden in my purse. In fact, whether or not a certain book will fit is my top priority when choosing a purse.

I have many times spent money on books when I could ill afford to. They were as much a necessity as food to me:

If of thy mortal good thou art bereft
And of thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.




message 5: by Meghan (new)

Meghan I have been lucky I guess. My parents were both bookworms so they always provided encouragement and support in my reading habits. I wasn't big into candy as a kid, so my mom would always give me a book instead of Valentine's or Easter candy. Some of my favorite memories are of me and my dad reading together when I was young.

I can't say I have ever been in the position where I'd have to choose between books or food. But I have chosen to read over eating. Some books have been so griping that I'd forget time and place and when I was finshed realized I just read the whole day away. Plus, I'd just go to the library when I was low on deposible income. That way I never had to choose!

I too have a purse book. I find it helps pass the time waiting in line and I'm less stressed (I'm by nature extremely impatient). I will try to grab a few minutes of reading before a movie starts in a theater. (Yes, I'm a nerd.)

Random - Can I admit that I giggled trying to picture you "prancing" around with a book shouting "look at me"? hee!

Charissa - You rock and I say wear that badge with pride!




message 6: by RandomAnthony (last edited Mar 02, 2008 06:17AM) (new)

RandomAnthony I think it's important to separate being a reader and being good at school. I got kicked out of two high schools before I graduated from a third. At one high school (Lane Tech HS in Chicago, a big middle finger to you...) I hated classes so much that I would skip school and either hit the library or ride the subway to stay warm and out of the way. My English teachers were usually interested in what I was reading...they were a bright spot.

J, I think I know what you mean by the family gathering issue...honestly, I think it's probably harder on women. You're supposed to socialize in the kitchen or whatever. Hiding with a book is probably a little easier since I'm a guy.

Meghan, I read before movies, too...and before concerts, meetings, etc., at least if I can get away with it...


message 7: by Kirk (new)

Kirk | 136 comments I always took offense when I used to get chided for having "book smarts," as if that knowledge was impractical. As an only child, I grew up in a world of books, and they've always been as important to me as people---which is kind of a scary thing to admit, I suppose. The truth is I don't feel complete unless I've got one on me or within reach. I used to get weird looks for taking books to bars for an afterwork beer, but it never seemed any different than taking one to Starbucks. And when I was in grad school, I definitely went more for books than food. I lived for years on 25 cent boxes of mac & cheese, didn't have a car or even health insurance at points.... but I always had books.


message 8: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
RA... what do you think it was about school that didn't gel for you? It's interesting that now you work in education.

I loved school when I first started going... by 6th grade I had started to dread it. By high school it was official, I hated it. But when I went to college I started to love it again. It was the system I couldn't deal with, never the actual academic work.


message 9: by Kat (new)

Kat | 2 comments I was lucky to have bookworm parents and grandparents with wonderful libraries. My grandmother had a huge volume of Dante's Inferno with pictures by Doré and I loved those horrible images. School stifled me, but I ended up choosing to teach high school because I hated it so much as a teenager. There had to be a solution to the nullification of the spirit. I often sat and thought of what I would do to make a human being absolutely love, or at least enjoy, learning in school. I am proud to say that most of my students are glad to learn in my room and I adhere to my early promise NOT to stifle an idea. I agree, it was rules, peer pressure, more rules and stupid boundaries. College was the first breath of fresh air and intellectual freedom that I had tasted in a long time. I think we give little children so many opportunities to explore and then whip those away for middle school and high school. That is why we lose minds, lose readers, or even fail to light a fire that can kindle a lifetime of discovery.


message 10: by Sarah (last edited Mar 02, 2008 09:25AM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) My parents always encouraged reading. They helped me learn to read by the time I was a toddler so that when I started Kindergarten I was way ahead.

My husband's not much of a reader and he teases me sometimes about how much I read, but actually he's supportive. He lets me spend obscene amounts of time and money at bookstores and he even recently built me a new bookshelf.

I did horribly in school because I refused to do homework. Actually, I loved doing big projects and writing papers and anything creative. But the "busy" work of working out problems or answering questions about text bored the hell out of me so I just wouldn't do it. I'd ace exams though which my teachers could never understand.

I also always carry a purse book with me. I hate being stuck waiting somewhere and not having anything to read.


message 11: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony Charissa, I'm not entirely sure why I hated school so much. I went to a very traditional Catholic school with a "sit in rows and keep quiet" culture but I think most of the teachers meant well. I still have my report cards that regularly say I didn't try, caused behavior problems, etc. They're pretty accurate:) I show them to my university students on the first day of class. I also show them my standardized test scores through the same period. I did well on standardized tests...there's a clear mismatch between my school grades and standardized test scores.

I honestly didn't start trying in school until my junior year when I realized I could either work in a Chicago factory my entire life or start doing well in school. Once I started trying school actually became somewhat interesting. I also think, to be honest, that doing well in school became a quantitative measure that my efforts were worthwhile.

I agree with Kat in that I keep my history in mind when I teach. I can be a hard ass because I'm teaching people to be teachers...and I'm not giving my stamp of approval that someone is ready to teach kids until it's clear they know what they're doing. However, I also keep in mind that my students usually work very hard and dream of making a difference in the world...so I do what I can to facilitate that process.

By the way...I thought about this conversation this morning at UU services. The service was boring so I snuck out early and hid in the coatroom with "Kitchen Confidential." I know I'm not the only one here who has read in a coatroom:)


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

well my ex husband used to hide my books but he was a control freak ergo the ex
did all the above
have the purse
there were times when no one could get my attention-perhaps i could have been a little more "in tune" at times
i think i could be more social but the benefits seem to outweigh the antisocial nature of the activity


message 13: by J (new)

J Sarah: I had much the same experience as you in school. I was bored. I started cutting school in the sixth grade, finding more interesting things to do. Whenever I got caught and was given detention I was thrilled to have more time to read. In high school I led my own field trips (corrupting my less adventurous friends) and visited the university library once a week. Come to think of it - I loved school!


shellyindallas I hated school. I went to summer school like three times. Once I got a car I would show up for lunch and drama but that's about it. Finally I gave up, I was so far behind there was no possibility of catching up.

I hated school because it sucked. Teachers, for the most part, seemed only to care about a handful of students (if that). The administration spent way to much time worrying about stupid shit like whether or not a student had holes in their jeans, or weird hair, or a bad attitude. Of course they have bad attitudes, their teenagers for fuck's sake!

Then the material was a joke. At least at my shitty school. Teens are extremely underrated as far as the subject material they can handle.

Overall school just seemed like a monumental waste of my time.

Eventually, I got my GED and have since graduated from the University of Texas here in Austin.
College is, as someone earlier pointed out, immensely more interesting and gratifying than High School.

Poor kids out there. It's way worse now than when I was there. Fucking No Child Left Behind, metal detectors, cops on campus. Doesn't seem like the kind of environment conducive to intellectual, social, and personal development.

Hope they're reading!


message 15: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
I used to cut class in jr high and hide in the bathroom stall and read. in high school I got smarter and instead cut school to wander the hills to read under trees surrounded by horses.

I feel lucky to have been able to send my daughter to private schools where she at least didn't slip through the cracks and I had some kind of influence over how well she was being taught. It wasn't perfect, but I can say proudly now that she likes school, does her homework, gets good grades, and is well on her way to having a better education than I ever did. She does not, however, like to read for pleasure very much. It's very odd to have a kid less interested in books than me. But she did pick up "Clockwork Orange" on her own and devoured it within a week or so. So I don't worry too much. She's just her own character.

Sounds like most of us hated school. I wish we could be in charge and change things in the public education system. It's broke so bad.


message 16: by J (new)

J That it is, Charissa. I homeschooled my kids up until this year for just that reason.

I spent many a school day reading under a tree!


message 17: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I used to cut class in jr. high school too. I had two friends who'd cut with me. We cut P.E. and hid in the bathroom, but unlike you, Charissa, we didn't read. We'd vandalize the bathrooms but not in an obvious way. We'd, like, remove the screws from the stall door hinges so that when you opened them they'd fall off. We'd turn doorknobs inside out. Stuff like that.

I ended up cutting about 2 months worth of P.E. class and when I finally got caught I had to drop my electives and take extra P.E. classes. I hated it back then but now I think that was the most awesome punishment ever. It certainly fit the crime.

The vice principal at that school was a badass. When I almost didn't graduate 8th grade, she stayed after school with the handful of us who were in the same boat and made sure we'd complete our work. Then she drove each one of us home.


message 18: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Random - are you liking the book? It's on my to-read next list.

Sarah - I loved that busy work. It was the easiest way to get an "A". I never had homework because I always got it done in class.

But I was also really lucky in that I had some fantastic teachers too. People who didn't want you to just read and reguritate (literally what one teacher told us). But I've had a couple of teachers where I just wanted to ask "why did you pick the profession where you hold the responsibility of shaping young minds? Because really, you're making us all hate this [subject] and you by association." And some of the rules and regulation I could never understand. High school is the one place in America where the Bill of Rights is NOT an option.


message 19: by Kristjan (last edited Mar 03, 2008 07:19AM) (new)

Kristjan (booktroll) Donald said: Have you ever suffered for being a book worm?
I presume nearly failing 8th grade counts? Although I can’t entirely blame it on reading. I never actually skipped class ... I just figured out how to read in class and not get caught. I did fine on all the tests though; it was the lack of homework to turn in that did me in.

Have you ever had family or friends ask you why you read so much?
Nope ... although when I had some friends help move me to my current house, one of them declared that I better have a PhD when he found out that all boxes in the U-Haul for one trip were actually books. In fact, nearly all of my family are voracious readers and I picked up most of my bad habits from them.

Have you ever been made to feel that your time reading is not well spent?
Not really ... although I have sometimes felt that I could have planned it a little better. Example ... I am reading Ender’s Shadow with my 12 yr old daughter each night. We are about halfway through it. The other night I stayed up until 2 am and finished it even though I would just be re-reading it this week. When my 3 yr old daughter woke me up at 6 am, I came about as close as I ever have to feeling my time the previous night was not well spent ... but was not quite there (I was left wishing I could just add a few hours to each day every now and again.

Have you ever taken a book with you to a party or social event?
Yes, frequently. I am somewhat better now after years of haranguing from my wife ... so now I only do it when she’s not looking ;)

Have you ever bought a book when it was a choice between book and food?
Nope ... I have always been able to get books.


message 20: by Monica (new)

Monica | 8 comments Have you ever suffered for being a book worm?
I was sent to the office by my Spanish teacher for covertly (at least I thought I was being covert) reading a sci-fi during a class lecture. Another time, my mom tore to shreds a book that my father had bought me pretty much because my father had bought it for me. I was half way through so that fairly sucked.

Have you ever had family or friends ask you why you read so much?
Countless of times when I was younger. Now they've grown to accept it.

Have you ever been made to feel that your time reading is not well spent?
My mom was funny that way. She'd hate that my free time was used reading but when strangers on the bus complimented her on her bookish daughter she almost preened. I still can't figure her out!

Have you ever taken a book with you to a party or social event?
Yes, definitely...well, but not by college.

Have you ever bought a book when it was a choice between book and food?
Once, while in college. I had food at home but the money was meant for other necessities.


message 21: by Meels (new)

Meels (amelia) Ha ha! I skipped school plenty, but it wasn't to read! :)


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