Feeling Bookish

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I love talking about books and I also hate talking about books. I love to read, am often reading, and so books and reading become a natural topic for me to talk and write about. Far from wanting to hide my nerdy tendencies, I don't mind sharing them and enjoy finding like-minded individuals. So, I haunt libraries, devour novels, and scribble notes--and yet every time I am asked to talk about what I'm reading I feel a twinge of unease. Maybe it's because reading has always been a solitary activity for me. Growing up I would spend many hours locked in my room reading quietly and rarely had a friend to discuss or trade novels with. Aside from school essays and reports, it has not been natural or normal for me to talk easily about what I'm reading or share books. More and more I'm realizing though that I also feel protective of my favorite novels and authors. When someone criticizes a book I enjoy I take it far more personally than if they had criticized me. In fact, being online there is a certain amount of understanding that what you say or do is open for feedback (positive and negative). I've taken a fair share of criticism over the years ranging from attacks on my figure to those on my character or choice in fashion, etc. Some words definitely hurt, but I weathered things well enough and honestly with time even the most hurtful comments have faded from my memory. Yet, I can still recall the specific words a teacher used to lambast one of my favorite authors. Recently when I shared a book I was reading and receive a couple of comments from people who hadn't enjoyed said book. It dimmed my enjoyment of the book and made me look for flaws I had missed when initially reading it. I'm not trying to argue that these feelings are valid or reasonable, but rather just coming to terms with the fact that they are. It might not be logical, but I feel protective towards my favorite authors as if they were dear friends who might be injured by a caustic word (even if most of them are in fact deceased). Criticism towards a book I'm enjoying feels like an attack, as if by saying I enjoyed that book that was obviously terrible I have shown poor personal judgement. I remember checking out a thick stack of fantasy novels at a library once and the librarian very sweetly saying, "you know people look down on fantasy novels and they really shouldn't. These books are wonderful." As a ridiculously shy teenager my only response was to nod vigorously and turn red to my toes. But I still remember it because, one: I loved that librarian, and two: it reminded me that yes, people do look down on certain types of novels. The genre seems irrelevant; some with mock young adult fiction, defenders of YA lit will mock romance novel, and so on and so on. Sometimes it feels like nerd v nerd as we each strive to feel a little better about our own bookish habits by critiquing someone else's. However, I stray from my original point which is: I struggle with book opinions. I have on rare occasions been pressed into sharing my favorites and am working on opening up about some of the books I'm currently reading, but it's still a topic that makes me uncomfortable. I've developed a fairly thick skin over the years about other details of myself and interests, so I suppose I will just have to work on cultivating a thicker skin in this arena as well. But I hope as well that people can recognize and empathize with a bookworm's joy at discussing books hand-in-hand with their shyness at discussing books. I think for many of us it has long been a solitary activity and perhaps even a source of teasing over the years, so it is understandable as we find our feet in more bookish communities we still feel a reluctance to be (ho hum) an open book. library (43 of 48) library (46 of 48) library (18 of 48)-side library (5 of 48) library (16 of 48) library (28 of 48) library (24 of 48) library (36 of 48)-side library (48 of 48) library (34 of 48) library (1 of 48) library (22 of 48) library (15 of 48)
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