Hi, I’m Stressed Out Student, and I’m a Bibliomaniac

This kind of post isn’t new. I ain’t special. The interwebs is brimming with people who love to – le gasp read. However, a sizable chunk of those people simply like books. “Why, whatever is the difference?” You ask me from across the table, pinching the handle of a tea cup between your index and thumb – pinky erect. “Well, good chap, in honor of Banned Books Week, let me enlighten you…”

(Why the hell this just turned into a Downton Abbey outtake, I have no clue).

Those who love reading may be categorized under the general term of “bibliophile.” According to Merriam-Webster Online, a bibliophile is “a lover of books, especially for qualities of format.” It doesn’t get much simpler than “book lover” in the etymological breakdown. Bibliophiles are people who love to read, collect, admire books, etc.

And then there is the “bibliomaniac“: someone with “an exaggerated preoccupation with the acquisition and ownership of books” (Free Online Dictionary). This is someone who love books not so much for their content, but for the value of the physical books themselves. If you’re familiar with a certain page on my site, you may have already realized that I have slight bibliomaniacal tendencies. Basically, a bibliomaniac is a book hoarder. How glamorous.

Exhibit A) I brought four books with me on my travels this summer:

Bibliomania Exhibit A

And I came back with nine. No joke.

There’s even a book that isn’t pictured here: I had left the book on a table in a hotel for someone else to take, since I was finished with it and knew I would never read it again. (It was Deception Point by Dan Brown. Entertaining for a mass market paperback, but not worth keeping – and coming from a hoarder, that’s saying something.)

So there’s the thing, I have a tendency to collect books that I think I’m going to read (and by golly, I will!) and books that I think are impressive (I mean, Classics of Moral and Political Theory? Really?) – but I do really like to read as well. I’m not voracious or all that ambitious of a reader. I just like having a book now and then. Sometimes, I don’t quite feel entitled to say that I love to read. True bibliophiles seem to have a new book brushing their noses every week, while I go through periods where I don’t read anything substantial from a book for weeks (not including textbooks and required reading).

Therefore am I a noble bibliophile or a poser, a materialistic bibliomaniac?

Well, neither, obviously. To even have this discussion- sure, books and reading are great, but they don’t need their own pedestal. Yes, encourage literacy among our children, but there’s no need to ram it down their throats and make them feel bad if they don’t like sitting around reading books day and night. It takes all kinds. And is there a need to shame bibliomaniacs for liking books just because they look nice or have some value not related to their content? Of course not. Obsessing over a first printing of a Dostoevsky novel is definitely not the worst form of materialism.

What does bibliophilia/mania mean to you? Where do you fall in the spectrum? And what have you read recently? Share some recommendations in the comments! (As if us maniacs needed more books).

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11 thoughts on “Hi, I’m Stressed Out Student, and I’m a Bibliomaniac

  1. I love books for the content, so I have now fallen in love with not having the physical book themselves but the word in electronic format.
    Of course some that I have the start of the series on pages, I must have the complete set ,Stirling’s Dies The Fire series, is what I am working on now. And I have every version of Robert Asprin’s Myth Adventures sitting physically on my shelves as well.

  2. I was just in Chicago and brought back books and coffee beans… It’s like I want to punish myself with the world’s heaviest luggage. I just finished D.T. Max’s Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story (http://www.amazon.com/Every-Love-Story-Is-Ghost/dp/0670025925), which I can’t recommend enough since I know you already like DFW. In Chicago I picked up a few books on philosophy and linguistics (there’s DFW’s influence again). I

  3. I’m more on the Bibliophile side but, I say, the entirety of my being does not revolve around books. I love books for both content quality and aesthetic properties — I would have to admit, I do judges some books by their cover at times *bows for apology*. 😛

      • I just realized that I have forgotten to mention what books I’ve recently read. Well, I have been wallowing in the strange stories about emotions found in John Green’s and David Levithan’s books lately.

        Although I have quite a lot of books which are still pending for closure (literally, I have to close those books but I feel lazy because I might forget where I’m at already) like Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Yes, I tend to read multiple books simultaneously which results to me not finishing them. 😛

        Prior to those books, I finished two books from the author known as David Almond who seems to write pretty interesting children’s lit.

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