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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BookWyrms 101

A female juvenile BookWyrm (15 years old),
spotted in the Allegheny Forest of PA,  July 1983*

The BookWyrm (Iloveus toreadus) is a subspecies of the mammal group known as Homo sapiens.  The main difference between Iloveus toreadus and the rest of the Homo sapiens species is an intense love of reading.


BookWyrms can be found all over the world, in all different climates and habitats; the only requirement is an environment rich with books (either paper or digital).


BookWyrms often return to a favorite reading spot over and over again (normally a comfortable bed, chair, or couch).  However, when they are unable to be in that particular spot, most will read just about anywhere -- in the car, on a bench, in a tree, on the ground, in a bathtub, standing in line... or even in an overturned wheelbarrow, like the young BookWyrm in the photo above. 


Though individual BookWyrms can be found in a wide variety of settings, flocks of them tend to gather in certain environments, especially libraries and bookstores, during business hours.  They migrate there whenever they are in need of a new book and -- in the case of a bookstore -- whenever they have money to spare.


When first born, BookWyrms are virtually impossible to distinguish from non-BookWyrms.  (While the offspring of adult BookWyrms are often BookWyrms themselves, particularly if both parents are part of the subspecies, this is not always the case.)  The young may begin exhibiting BookWyrmish traits around the age of one year.  (Some may show a taste for books before then, but at that young age it is difficult to determine whether their behavior shows a true affection for the written word, or merely delight at crinkling, ripping, and mouthing paper.)  By the age of five, most BookWyrms are easily identifiable by the casual observer, though some do not develop their love for books until later in life.

Typical characteristics of a BookWyrm:
  • Often spotted with a book or e-reader in hand
  • Circles under the eyes, from staying up too late reading
  • When reading, a BookWyrm tends to look happy and content, and will often ignore his/her surroundings  (Caution: Interrupting a reading BookWyrm may cause moderate to severe grumpiness!)
  • When not reading, the BookWyrm will often talk about books and/or express a desire to get back to reading
  • A BookWyrm's home tends to be filled with overflowing bookshelves and/or multiple stacks of books

Common calls of the BookWyrm:
  • "Read to me!" or "Tell me a story!" (generally spoken by juveniles)
  • "The book was better!" (often heard at movie theaters)
  • "Shhh... I'm trying to read!"
  • "Just one more chapter -- then I'll go to sleep!"

Nature vs. Nurture controversy:

While it's possible that BookWyrms are "born to read", a BookWyrm gene has yet to be identified.  Many scientists and lay people (including this author) believe that, regardless of genes, virtually all Homo sapiens could become BookWyrms if raised in a loving, book-rich environment.  If more adults modeled a love of reading, encouraged curiosity, nourished an eagerness for learning, and provided interesting, exciting, wonderful books for the children in their lives, more young Homo sapiens would develop their own love for a good book, and the number of BookWyrms around the world would grow.  In this author's opinion, a population explosion of BookWyrms would benefit our species significantly.

For more about the term "BookWyrm", please check out this post.

*Yep, that BookWyrm is me! :)

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