Okay. So you’ve adopted a reader, but you’re not one yourself. You are, in fact, a casual reader, or maybe even a non-reader, who only reads when they really have to.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. *Shifts uncomfortably* Seriously. Not everyone reads. It’s not enjoyable for every person. And there are so many things in this world, so many fascinating and wonderful interests, that in no way can we all be expected to like the same ones. *Shifts again* I mean, there are movies, and games, and food, and sports, and so many things that don’t require you to read. At all. (But … never? Not even on weekends?)
Sorry. I got off track there. (What about on planes? Do you read on planes?) Sorry. Again. I know plenty of people who don’t read for pleasure. Like … my ex? Wait. Bad example. Ahem.
But alright, my lovely non-reader. You want a little insight into the world of readers. You want to know how to understand your new reader, and what exactly you should do with them. Allow me to help you out.
7 Things Non-Readers Need to Know About Readers
1. Reading means no conversation. If someone’s reading, you can’t interrupt them. Allow me to repeat that. If someone’s reading, you cannot interrupt them. Really. I’m pretty sure it’s a law. And yes, if you’re not a reader, that probably does seem very antisocial and rude. Which you can tell the reader after they put down their book, if you want an angry bookworm armed with a hardback on your hands. A better tactic is to wait until the reader has stopped reading of their own accord, then ask them what they’ve been reading. The odds are good that they’ll want to talk about it very much, probably in great detail. Listen attentively, remember character names, and make tea for extra points.
2. Readers are tough. Books are dangerous. Just ask any bookworm who’s fallen asleep while holding a hardback over their face in bed (i.e. pretty much every reader). Then there’s that weird cramp you get in your thumb while holding a book open, and the ever-present risk of papercuts, cricks in necks, and aching backs. And that’s not even mentioning the strained muscles from lugging bookhauls home and the heartbreak caused by callous writers killing off favourite characters, all of which readers endure on a daily basis. They’re alarmingly resilient creatures, so don’t underestimate them. However, it is necessary to offer protection for their books from any and all environmental factors. Carry an umbrella for this very purpose.
3. Books are a legitimate form of home decor. Things may look pretty tidy when you first meet a reader, and their books may even be in a lovely sort of order. However, as they begin to feel more comfortable with you, you will start to discover books collecting on the sofa and encroaching on the coffee table, piling up on stools and clambering off the shelves to advance on the floor. They’ll form colonies on the bedside tables and sprout in haphazard heaps on the breakfast bar, and you’ll likely wake up to a couple under your pillow, but it’s best not to protest. The danger of being crushed by an avalanche of charity shop hardbacks is a real one.
4. Readers live in a constant flux between joy and despair. There are so many books in the world, which is amazing and wonderful and astonishing. But our lives are finite, and that means we’ll never be able to read them all, which is not wonderful. Enter the DNF and the TBR, two terms you will need to become familiar with. Readers agonise over whether it’s okay to not finish a book, and what their reason for it was, and if it’s a DNF for now, or forever. They also worry about where a book needs to go on their reading pile, and how long until they get to it, and what about all the books they want to re-read, and when, when is their favourite author coming out with their next book? (Which they will immediately buy, devour, then despair that they have to wait so long for the next one …). Offer tea and cookies. Whether in celebration or commiseration, it will be appreciated.
5. Books have a strange power over readers. Bookworms will veer off streets and into bookshops with no warning whatsoever, so that you might be walking along chatting about what to have for dinner, or whether it’s going to rain, or the courtship rituals of the lesser spotted grebe, or … or I don’t know. Whatever you talk about when you’re not talking about books, I guess. Anyway, your reader will just vanish, and you’ll find them an hour later staggering about under a pile of books they didn’t intend to buy only the covers were so good, and suggesting that cheese on toast will be just fine for dinner. For the next month. But don’t suggest they put the books back. Never, ever suggest that the ability to buy tomatoes is more important than buying books. Trust me on this.
6. Reading > Sleeping. There will be nights when your reader, despite knowing they have an early morning ahead, will read until the alarm actually goes off. Do not attempt to stop them, or to remonstrate with them the following day when they’re drooping into their cereal and bemoaning the cruelty of a life that does not allow book hangover days. This is in line with not trying to talk while reading is in process. The reader cannot be held responsible for the consequences, especially when running on caffeine and insomnia.
7. The movie is never better. I cannot stress this enough. And statements such as “But I saw the movie. I don’t need to read the book!” are just asking for trouble. Don’t do it. Books are heavy. Readers are strong. Take from this what you will.
So there we are, my lovely non-readers! I hope this gives you some small insight into the world of readers, and some guidance going forward. And if you slip up, don’t worry. Just say, “Would you like to go to the bookshop?”, and all will be forgiven. Well, a lot, anyway.
Or you could work on creating a lovely reading nook for them, or even find them a perfect gift. You know, if you want to be absolutely sure you’re safe from that book avalanche…
And tell me, lovely readers, what else do we need non-readers to know? Let me know below!
amreading, books, bookworm, just for fun
All valid points here, and the non-reader should tread carefully. The most recent Writers After Dark podcast was all about manners, and one of the things they mentioned was how incredibly rude it isto interrupt someone while they’re reading. So that’s definitely A Thing.
Book hangovers . . . too close to home. I can’t talk about it yet.
Funny story about “the movie is never better” (which I totally agree with): when the first of the Lord of the Rings movies came out, we were all standing to leave the theater as the credits rolled, and the dumb guy in front of us who’d been commenting loudly throughout the movie looked at his buddy and said, “I don’t know how they’re going to get two more movies out of this. I mean, they’re practically at that mountain already.” I couldn’t take it anymore. I said (with equal loudness), “You’re not a reader, are you?” and his buddy just started laughing.
Noooo not the loud movie commenter! That’s just so horribly annoying (although I have been known to mutter under my breath, “Well, it wasn’t like that in the book“). I do love that you said something, though!
And I still can’t believe how many people don’t realise that reading time should not be interrupted unless it’s an emergency. I’ve had the situation of wearing headphones and reading while on a plane, only to have the person in the seat next to me keep talking to me. I’m not even sure I actually look that friendly…
Headphones AND reading! I can’t believe anyone would be so self-absorbed to not take heed of the signs.
I’ve always thought it might be handy to just look at someone intently in those situations, like I’m reading their lips, and then use sign language to answer them. But I figured it would be my luck that they also speak sign language, and I barely know enough to ask for help, and then I’d be busted.
I did once pretend I only spoke Spanish, but the reading-disturber spoke rather more Spanish than I did…
Uh huh. Exactly what I’m afraid of.
The exact moment I fell in love with my future husband was when he insisted on loaning me a pile of his books. When I first went with him for a stay at his parents’ house, I was delighted to find that their living room had an enormous bookshelf covering an entire wall, full of books I was eager to read. And then it turned out that his mother, my future mother-in-law, was a persistent Interrupter of Readers. The conversation would flag, everyone in the family would pick up something to read (heaven!), and then every few minutes my future MIL would start talking to me. I feel like she was doing it mostly out of politeness, thinking it would be rude to ignore me when I was a guest, and I always hid my annoyance and replied civilly—and waited impatiently for her to stop talking so I could get back to my BOOK. Like the rest of the family. Just let me be an oddball among the other oddballs here, thanks!
Aw, there’s nothing more exciting than sharing books with someone you’ve also got feelings for. That’s just lovely – and how awesome that most of the rest of the family are avid readers too! I hope your MIL soon realised that she hadn’t found a non-reader to chat to, and that you were able to read your way through all those glorious shelves. It sounds like you were a perfect fit in that family!