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).

Follow these links to read more about information and knowledge and stuff:

So, Uh, I Gave in to Fifty Shades of Grey (Insert Sub Joke Here… or Not)

Let us thrust into this post head first-

Wait, that came out wrong.

Sit down and tell me how naughty-

Whoa, what’s happening.

Allow me to ease myself into the supple contours of your mind whilst tracing tantalizing sentences along the creamy arch of your-

Ok, now that you’re fully aroused, let’s talk about Fifty Shades of Grey.

This treasure of English literature has been giving house moms and post-Twilight teens lady erections since 2011 and it’s been covered high and low, parodied, and read aloud by Gilbert Gottfried and George Takei (oh my-y-y-y).  Even with all the rabid hubbub surrounding the series, my personal integrity beat out my curiosity to read the overexposed series – until recently.

I gave in, goddammit. I just had to see what all the hype and commotion was about. Could it really be that bad?

Folks, I’ll say what thousands upon thousands have said before me: WHAT THE FRICK DID I JUST READ?

Now, if you’ve been living under a rock locked in a safe buried at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, let me briefly get you up to speed:

  • The story started out as Twilight fanfiction [Can already tell it’s bad]
  • Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are the two sparkling vampire lovers characters we’re supposed to give a flying fart about [What the hell is up with their names?]
  • The charismatic, Adonis-like sparkling Grey becomes attracted to One Direction’s “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” Steele because E.L. James said so [Look up: Mary Sue]
  • Fifty Shades of Grey has been on The New York Times Best Sellers List for 57 weeks. [Their summary: “An innocent college student falls in love with a tortured man with particular sexual tastes; the first of a trilogy.”] 
  • The Fifty Shades series has been responsible for the death of over a trillion brain cells (and counting) and should not be read before operating heavy machinery, while pregnant, or ever. Ever. [Validity of claims pending verification]

If you want to read detailed reviews of the book, look elsewhere. Google that shit because you’ll find a gazillion of articles and threads about how awful the books are. And, of course, you’ll also find the abysses of crazed fans, who swear by the holy greatness of the series. Proceed with caution.

All right, I have to be honest, I didn’t actually read the whole series. And to be totally honest, I didn’t even finish the first book. Why? Because I have better means of rotting my brain and pummeling my soul to a pulpy heap than reading the rest of that vacuous crap. While Twilight was silly, I actually enjoyed the first book when I was 11-12ish. It was entertaining, as simplistic as it was in its style. Fifty Shades, on the other hand, is not only silly, it’s downright idiotic. Like Twilight, the super hot guy falls for the absolutely ordinary girl who’s supposedly way hotter than she thinks she is. The dialogue is atrocious – what you’d expect out of a cheap porno (not that I’d know what that’s like). The characters have less depth than Flat Stanley and the story- there is no real story. It’s all an excuse to write unrealistic and demeaning sex scenes.

Here’s a guy on YouTube doing several pretty good impressions while reading actual excerpts from Fifty Shades of Grey (Warning: NSFW language):

Still a better love story than Twilight? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think we’ve found the exception.

What do you think of the Fifty Shades series? Have you actually read it? (If not – GOOD. RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN.) 

Read more (Do you dare?):

Midterm Stress Relief: Girly Magazines Are Girly (and Evil)

This is what it’s come down to.  Four days into my pathetic little Midterm Stress Relief Week and I have stooped down to the level of my squealy adolescent counterparts. Desperate for reading material for the long bus ride home, I swiped – permanently borrowed – an abandoned girly teen magazine from a table top on campus, making sure to ninja the brightly covered collection of glossy paper into my bag before being seen by my respectable higher ed peers. (And that’s right. I just used “ninja” as a verb. Booyah.)

But I just needed some reading mat- oh, what the hell. There’s no use making excuses. I could have left this publication abomination well alone, but I “just had to” grab it. Damn you, magazine design team and your eye for catchy colors and ridiculous, yet attractive cover catch lines. Hook, line, and sinker. You’re just too good.

To redeem my disgraced self, I shall dissect and destroy this sorry little excuse of lifestyle entertainment, starting with its gaudy cover.

Girl's Life Magazine Cover

Must. Suppress. Grammar. Nazi. (And Good Taste Nazi).

Look at that – all that faux happiness. In real life, she’s probably 36 years old. The Photoshop team has obviously bleached and tightened her skin, scrubbing out the creases and crow’s feet. That’s likely not even her real hair color. Who knows what she looked like when this picture was actually taken? She could have had a leaf of parsley stuck in between the front of her two sparkly white chompers there before the Photoshop squad took care of it digitally. Maybe she’s a man.

And read the catch lines. It’s like they have the key to the meaning of life in its pages. Magazines make such high-falutin promises with their superlatives language: “best night ever,” “worst guy mistakes,” “cutest, easiest DIY prezzies ever…” (So many things wrong with that last phrase. You’re talking to teenagers, not puppies or babies. You don’t need to shorten and make every word cutesy.) They promise secrets! Special reports! “Trust us, it’s worth it!” Well, we’ll see about that.

Since this is the December/January edition, it’s chock full of cheesy Christmas and New Year’s articles – if this drivel can be called a proper article. For example, “Do You Dare?” gives new year’s resolutions “you really can rock,” such as “showing off your smarts” and “embracing your uniqueness.” Oh, and my favorite: “Find a great guy (without even looking!).”  Again with the false hope and promises. Step outside your comfort zone and BAM- hot new boyfriend! (And beneath the title of that resolution: “You wish Santa would deliver a cutie tied up in a bow under the tree…” No, I do not wish Santa to indulge in sick serial killer fantasies).

Teen girl magazine advice is amazing. Amazingly bad. Just plain bad, actually. In this issue, there is a two-page spread of an article with the aneurysm-inducing title “Gifts for everyone on your list for like… free!” They claim to have great gift ideas that won’t make your wallet (or purse?) weep never-ending tears of emptiness. These are some of the gifts they suggest (or my interpretation of them):

To Gramps: Ask to listen to one of his “back in the day” stories that you’ve heard a million times. And pretend to care. “Hey, you might actually enjoy yourself.” Right. Next.

To Mom: Make your mom feel hip, cool, and like one of the gals by giving her the 411 on who you’re having sex dreams about. “It’s better than another scented candle set.” I’ll bet. That’ll be one fun Christmas dinner conversation.

To Big Sis: Be a dear and stop rifling through her precious makeup collection. “It’s a toughie, but a little self-control will brighten her holiday season.” Accusing your readership of being sticky-finger kleptomaniacs? How nice.

To Your Crush: Throw rationality out the window and tell that guy you’ve been drooling over that you kinda’ sorta’ might like him. “Channel the spirit of the season and open your heart.” To ridicule and rejection.

– To the BFF: Write her an ego-stroking letter thanking her for putting up with you. “Be ready with some tissues – she’ll definitely shed a few tears.” That’s a bit presumptuous, don’t you think? A letter and a box of tissues. Such a good friend.

Ha ha! Your pathetic attempts at connecting with the teen girl crowd are futile and helplessly transparent. I have demolished you, trite girly magazine. Take that, and that, and- and I just wasted 725 words and a whole hour on a teen girl magazine.

Well, damn.

They are good.

Is reading teen girl magazines a guilty pleasure of yours? (I ain’t judging). Leave your thoughts in the comments section, I beg you (not really, but yeah, I’d like to hear your thoughts).