It all started when someone posted an image on Facebook, which said: "Bookworm Problem no. 37: Pronouncing a word incorrectly because you've read it hundreds of times but never heard it said aloud." There was much discussion about words which I and some of my friends did indeed misprounounce for years: allies, meringue, superfluous, hyperbole, indict, epitome, vaseline... and many more.
Another important question then arose: If that is problem number 37... what are the other 36?
So, in an idle moment, and with help from a friend to bring the total to 40, I compiled this list. Much (though by no means all) of which is based on personal experience.
Beginning in the elementary/primary school years...
2. You regularly lose the ‘correct’ place when doing group reading at school, because you are reading so far ahead on your own
3. You take more notice of what fictional parents say than your own
4. You regularly bump into lamp posts or trees because you were reading while walking
5. Your family hunt all over for you, and you don’t hear them calling because you’re up a tree, deep in a book
It gets worse during the secondary/high school years...
7. Your family panics when you vanish from sight for hours in a large and rambling second-hand bookshop
8. When you are assigned a classic for English homework, you're disappointed to find that you have already read it, probably more than once
9. You break up with your girlfriend/boyfriend because she/he isn’t interested in your favourite authors
10. You have to catalogue your books carefully or you forget which ones you already have
11. You have no idea what to give someone for their birthday when they don’t want any more books
12. You can’t actually figure out what is meant by ‘not wanting any more books’
13. You teach your young siblings the alphabet: A for Austen, B for Brontë, C for Coleridge, D for Dickens...
14. When you play Scattergories, you can find about twenty authors for any letter, but struggle with many of the other options
15. You can find all the bookshops in any town, but have no idea where restaurants are
16. Your friends call you geeky because you know so much
17. You’re puzzled when acquaintances don’t get the literary references you use automatically
18. You emerge, starry-eyed, from the end of a wonderful book only to discover that it’s morning, and you never went to bed
19. You are mystified when someone asks what you collect. Books, of course.. what else is there to collect?
20. You get depressed when you learn that around 200,000 new books are published every year in the UK alone, and you realise that you can never catch up
Adult life begins, but the problems of being a bookworm only multiply...
22. You need new clothes, but books are a much higher priority
23. You forget to reply to your emails because you're too busy reading
24. You buy a Kindle so as to save space, and now you have a large collection there, but you still keep acquiring real books too
25. When you completely run out of shelf space, you don’t think of getting rid of anything - you have to buy a new bookcase
26. You become disillusioned, because nobody in real life lives up to your favourite fictional heroes/heroines
27. The only websites you ever visit are Amazon, Abe, Waterstones, Play and The Book Depository
28. You frequently miss a bus stop or train station because you’re so engrossed in a book
29. You become frantic when the final book in a series is out of print and you can’t find it anywhere second-hand
30. You feel sad but remote from real life disasters, yet cry your eyes out after reading about Beth March/Walter Blythe/Dobby
Even when you have settled down with a job, house, and/or family, the problems continue...
32. You take a job abroad for a few years, and fill all your boxes with essential books... then realise you have to take some clothes too
33. You can find obscure reference books in a few seconds, but have no idea where you keep the basil and thyme
34. You spend hours online when you should be doing something else, trying to find a copy of an obscure book you vaguely recall from your childhood
35. An old schoolfriend reminds you about a teacher, and you don’t remember if it was a real one or someone from a school story
36. You forget an important meeting with your boss because you’re so absorbed in a book
37. You pronounce a word incorrectly because you’ve read it hundreds of times but never heard it said aloud
38. You can't imagine getting rid of your 30-volume 1980s encyclopedia to save space, even though you know it’s out of date, and quicker to find things out online
39. Visitors worry that your marriage is in difficulties because you have 27 books about marriage on your shelves
40. You never get round to actually doing anything other than reading, because for any new interest or hobby you first have to acquire and absorb several books on the topic