As defined by Merriam-Webster,
Bookworm noun : a person unusually devoted to reading and study
Bibliophile noun : a lover of books especially for qualities of format; also : a book collector
By these definitions provided I could not honestly describe myself as a bookworm or as a bibliophile, I cannot even honestly say that I have been an avid reader since childhood. What I can say with honesty is that I didn’t quite detest required reading like other students did, some of them I remember quite enjoying. And outside of school there were some obscure fantasy novels I found on dusty, second-hand shelves that I read, by read I mean (more often than not) that I skimmed through about 35-45% of the book to get to the meat of the story, bypassing the world building and character development to get to the action.
However, this did not stop me from listing reading as a hobby or bookworm as a personal description whenever anyone asked me to describe myself. It wasn’t until I got older and was first exposed to the online book community that I noticed a discrepancy between what I thought was a bookworm, or bibliophile, versus the examples I was seeing inside this community. Even after my school years my reading hobby was casual at its best and at its worse, well I can honestly say there were a few years that passed without me opening, much less picking up a book. So when I was interacting with the book community and I was meeting people who were avid readers since childhood, people who were reading dozens of books a month, people who could piece together evolved and detailed opinions about the books they had read (far from my few syllables of “It was good”), it made me feel like I was an outsider trying to trick my way into the city by way of Trojan Horse.
Please don’t misunderstand, the people I had come across in the community were lovely and were welcoming and warm. I had not met one person who turned up their nose at my newbie questions or the books I had managed to read or the meager stack of books that I had collected so far in my new venture. It was my own personal feelings that made me eventually back away from the book community like a wild animal, turn tail and run as far and fast as I could the other way. I didn’t think I had a right to become a bookworm because I didn’t fit into the standard I was seeing set in the community. How could I put myself on the same level as these people considering I was nearing my late twenties and couldn’t hold a candle to the flame that drew me to them?
It was a few more years after this experience that I started to circle around the book community again, standing on tip toes trying to see over a wall I had constructed to see what was going on past the wall. My casual hobby was still lukewarm at best at this point but I couldn’t argue that I was being drawn to the community regardless of how I felt about my own reading habits. I wanted to be a part of the community even if I wasn’t completely sure how at the time. The birth and first few years of my first child kept me busy both mentally and physically so once again I found myself going in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go.
Now I’m in my mid-thirties with a second child due to make his appearance any day now but I found that I am more committed than ever to make my way into the community I have watched with envy from afar for so long. I can’t pinpoint this sudden motivation due to a lightning strike moment, it seems like I just woke up one day and decided that I had delayed something that I wanted for long enough. I decided that there was nothing wrong with doing something for myself even when my responsibility for caring for tiny humans was about to grow.
Decision made and my feet firm, I still didn’t want to just burst into the book community without another thought and just swim around barely staying afloat (though I’m sure even after the thought I put in, I’ll do just exactly that). I had done that previously with my first two attempts at joining the book community by creating last-minute bookstagram accounts. While I enjoyed the interaction, I found my motivation fizzing out pretty shortly after starting both of those accounts. They just didn’t feel permanent, they didn’t feel like they were solid idea’s and so that is where The Budding Bookworm came about.
Instead of parading myself about online in the guise of another bibliophile, why not take advantage of my unique perspective? Why not be honest with myself and the community that I was not in fact an “avid reader”? Let everyone else see my journey from a lukewarm, “sometimes” reader to a true lover of books, to someone who had found joy in picking up a book and devouring the written word… so this was where The Budding Bookworm truly began. I hope that this finds people, I hope not just the well established persons in the book community, but also other people who may have discovered the joy of reading later in life.
However this is also a space for me. A space where I can feel safe even if I don’t end up finishing that book that everyone else is raving about, even if I can’t manage to conjure up a better review of a book other than, “It was good”. Even if I never manage to read dozens of books a month much less a year. Here, in the spaces I create under the TBB name, I can feel free to explore.
Welcome to The Budding Bookworm.