Bubbly Bookworms: the Social Side of Reading

Since reading is generally a solo activity, people for whom it is a primary pastime ultimately end up spending a lot of time alone, which can lead to social isolation. — Bookstr

Reading is a popular hobby. People love to read books because it enables them to increase their knowledge, vicariously travel the world, and take a break from life’s many challenges. However, in spite of these perks, we bibliophiles face the threat of social isolation. We thrive in quiet environments, such as libraries and book cafes, because they help us focus and fully appreciate the written word. Have you tried reading on a crowded bus or train? It’s not an experience that you can learn to enjoy…

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Socialization involves talking to real-life people, and spending lots of time with fictional characters might not count. Considering these facts, it’s no wonder the words “bookworm” and “introvert” go hand in hand. Sometimes, “non-readers” worsen the stereotype and assume that bibliophiles are anti-social.

If that misconception makes you want to roll your eyes, rest assured that you’re not alone. However, take a moment of introspection and see if you’re guilty of the following things:

  • Bringing books to social gatherings such as parties and family reunions in case they become boring
  • Scowling at someone for talking to you while you’re reading
  • Pretending to read a book because you want others to think that you’re busy (or smart)

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I realized that bookworms and cats work so well together because both of them can be excellent snobs. The only difference is that when cats ignore you, it’s cute. But when bookworms ignore you, it’s anything but nice. Nonetheless, are these actions examples of antisocial behavior, or do they merely reflect a passion for reading? I’m often guilty of numbers one and two, but I don’t necessarily dislike interacting with people outside the world of fiction.

When I was in high school, most of my childhood friends preferred to bathe in their sweat playing basketball. Since I didn’t want to smell like onions, I stayed in our classroom during breaks and read books. I had just finished The Chronicles of Narnia and Twilight, but my friends didn’t know who Aslan was and didn’t care if Bella Swan ended up with Edward Cullen or Jacob Black.

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Eventually, books became my best friends, my primary sources of entertainment and enlightenment. I didn’t want to change my interests just to please the jock majority. I was often alone, but I wasn’t lonely. Today, my parents tell me that I shouldn’t invest so much of my time and money in books. People were made for relationships, and if ever the apocalypse happened, my beloved fictional characters wouldn’t be able to help me.

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I agree that reading can cause social isolation, especially among introverts who already enjoy being alone. I think that the fewer people you talk to, the more books you finish. For example, A and B are siblings, and both of them have eight-hour jobs. When they come home, A just wants to stay in his room and chill. On the other hand, B leaves again to hang out with his friends and returns before the clock strikes twelve. Both of them enjoy reading, but whom do you think has more time to read?

Thankfully, readers can compensate for their lack of face-to-face communication by making their voices heard online. Readers who do this are called book bloggers. Because of social media, even introverted bookworms like me can be some of the most bubbly people on the planet. Four platforms make book blogging possible:

  • Goodreads: for Competitive Bookworms

Goodreads is the most popular site among bookworms. When you search for a book on Google, the first thing that you’ll see is its rating on Goodreads. The main goal of the site is to help you organize your reading life. You can sort your books into different shelves, and you can monitor your reading progress. However, the site has a competitive aspect. Your profile shows how many books you’ve read in a year. It also measures your local and global popularity. The bubblier you are, the more likes and followers you get.
You can also use Goodreads to find potential friends. The site has a feature that measures your compatibility with other users. One girl sent me a friend request, and I accepted it because we were 75% compatible based on the books that we had in common.

  • Instagram: for Photogenic Bookworms

As for Instagram, I enjoy using it because I love the sight of beautiful books. As much as we deny it, we judge books based on their covers. My desire to buy a particular book becomes stronger every time I see it featured on the site. Instagram is also one of the reasons why I bring books everywhere. My brothers and I usually eat in fancy cafes and restaurants, and it’s always fun to take pictures of books in such places. You should try Bookstagram if you don’t want to write complete book reviews. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

  • YouTube: for Bookworms with Star Potential

If you want to be a BookTuber, you have to get used to talking to a camera. I like watching other readers haul their books and organize their bookshelves, but I don’t want to create my own videos because I feel uncomfortable when I know that I’m being recorded. Still, this platform can make you a minor celebrity. If you have enough subscribers, publishers might invite you to book conventions, book launches, and other related events.

  • WordPress: for Camera-shy Bookworms

For me, WordPress is the best platform for book-blogging because I have always enjoyed writing. My blog is like my journal. But instead of writing about my everyday life, I write about my reactions to the books I read. I also like WordPress because it enables you to create a website even if you hardly know anything about web development. Highlit is basically my writing portfolio, and I think that it helped me earn my job as an editor.

All of these platforms can encourage you to interact with others, especially when you feel strongly about a particular book or series. For example, if your favorite character died, it would be nice to have a virtual shoulder to cry one. You could also explore various fandoms and achieve a sense of belonging. Just practice your critical thinking skills since the Internet is full of fishy people. Choose your friends wisely!

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Ultimately, as a hobby, reading can indeed cause isolation because it’s always fun to read alone. However, you can strike a balance between your reading and social lives. Because of book blogging, reading socially is possible. Not only do you get the chance to receive free books; you also gain access to an incredibly diverse community. Always remember that your reading experience doesn’t have to end once you reach the last page. 🙂

 

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