Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On how to live with an obsessive reader

Living with someone who has different interests than you isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult if you don’t understand their passion. If you’re living with an obsessive reader (or even hanging out with one enough that it feels like you’re living together sometimes), here are a few tips on making it the smoothest living experience possible.
  • Don’t interrupt them while they’re reading. This is probably the most important tip I can offer you. Readers hate being constantly interrupted - especially when they’re at a good part in the book. Obviously, if the house is burning down, you should probably alert them (they might not have noticed if it’s a really really good book), but beyond that, it’s okay to let them read a bit longer. The more trivial your reason for interrupting them, the more annoyed they’ll be. Also, the more frequently you interrupt them, the more annoyed they’ll become. If they’ve barely gotten on track from your last interruption, only to be interrupted by you again, then their first thought is the quickest way to destroy you so you won’t interrupt any more.
  • Don’t roll your eyes when they go to that library/bookstore/book website/book blog again. Obsessive readers don’t just read books - they read about books and they’re constantly looking for the next big titles, the newest hit authors, the best deals on an old favorite, a review from their favorite book blogger. They will go back to the library when they have a pile of ARCs that hasn’t been touched and they’ll buy twelve new books when the library books are already past due. That’s part of being a reader. Support them in this and if you do begin to be concerned that the TBR pile is going to topple over and destroy everyone in your home, gently suggest decluttering a bit.
  • Ask about what they’re reading. It’s okay if you aren’t really interested and if you zone out through part of the scene-by-scene update you’re getting from your reader. Asking at all is a nice thing and any reader will be dying to tell you what new and wonderful book they’ve found. You’ll score big points if you periodically ask about it.
  • Listen to them talk about what they’re reading. So I did just tell you that you don’t have to listen to your dear reader tell you about their books and that’s true. You’ll score points for asking (even if you don’t completely listen), but you’ll score even more points for asking about their books, caring about the characters they love, rejoicing in the victories of their favorite characters and comforting them when their faves fail.
  • Join Goodreads to support them. You don’t have to be an active Goodreads user to fully support your reader friend. Even if you read one or two books every year, any obsessive reader will know exactly what those books are, like every Goodreads update you post, and probably sit you down just to ask how you liked them and what your thoughts were and do you need any tissues. It’s fun to have more Goodreads friends, even if they only read a little.
  • Read what they recommend to you now and then. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. If you live with a reader, you will be surrounded by books. Once you come to tolerate it, it’s time to learn to embrace it - by asking what your reader thinks you’d like and ACTUALLY READING IT. I don’t know a better way to score big points with a reader. Whether or not you like the book as much as they did or if you couldn’t bear to finish it or if you accidentally dropped it in a swimming pool while reading it, you’ll be a bigger star in their book for trying and for giving their hobbies and interests a try. It also gives you a bit of common ground to talk about and compare future book recommendations to. Also, now you can better convince your reader friend to give your hobbies a try, so everyone wins.

What other tips would you give to the friends/roommates/significant others of obsessive readers? Who else could benefit from these tips?

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