If your ideal afternoon involves roaming the aisles of a bookstore and curling up with that perfect book (preferably on a rainy day), then you may describe yourself as a bookworm. But you don’t have to compare yourself to an invertebrate to discuss your love affair with books! There are many more gorgeous ways to describe bibliophilia and all it entails.
Book Lovers By Any Other Name
For those of us who have more than once been caught with our nose in a book (another less-than-savory image), there is a certain indescribable connection between ourselves and a story. But maybe it’s not so indescribable after all.
Abibliophobia: The Fear of Having No Books
Abibliophobia is that moment when you’re planning a two-day trip and you pack five books because you don’t know what will happen if you have nothing to read (and you don’t want to find out). It’s a bad feeling. That must be why you have that stack of books on your nightstand!
Bibliobibuli: Drunk With Books
Bibliobibuli combines the Greek biblio (“book”) and the Latin bibulous (“thirsty” or “prone to drinking alcohol”) to describe that feeling you have when you just can’t stop reading an amazing book. Who needs liquor when you’ve got 400 pages of adventure?
Bibliophile: A Lover of Books
If you’re a bibliophile, you love books and everything about them. Even the books with unsatisfying endings or corny love affairs make their way into your collection. You’ll typically find young bibliophiles hunkered away in the library, and adult bibliophiles doing the exact same thing.
Bibliophage: Devourer of Books
Unlike someone who experiences bibliobibuli, a bibliophage doesn’t linger long enough in any one book to drink it in. These readers absolutely devour books. They pick a book up right after finishing another one, and they may even track the books they read each year to beat their record for last year. Airport bookstores exist for bibliophages — they’ll probably finish that new novel by the time they get off the plane.
Bibliosmia: Loving That New Book Smell
Those who have eschewed electronic reading devices may have bibliosmia, which is that heavenly feeling you get when you open a new book and smell the paper inside. It also applies to older books and that musky scent each page emits. You just can’t get that from a device.
Bibliolater: A Book Devotee
If you can quote passages from a book on your shelf, which is the first edition and/or signed by the author, and you get upset when a movie version comes out because you know they’re not going to get the details right, you may be a bibliolater. Traditionally meant to describe those devoted to the study of the Bible, bibliolater can refer to anyone devoted to any book in particular.
Bibliomania: An Obsession With Books
Here’s the test for bibliomania: Look around the room. Add up the number of books you see. How many have you read, and how many are you saving for a rainy day (or a trip, or a long line, or …)? If you’ve read fewer books than you haven’t read, you may have bibliomania. Join the club.
Book-Bosomed: Always Having a Book With You
What do you do when you find yourself in a waiting room? Some people take out their phones and doomscroll until their turn comes up, but the book-bosomed among us always have a book in our purse, backpack, laptop bag, car, or coat pocket. Admit it: You bought that coat with the big pockets for this specific purpose.
Epeolatry: Word Worship
While epeolatry isn’t technically a religion, it may as well be for bibliophiles. It describes the worship of the written word. If you’re perusing a dictionary website about words to find the perfect way to refer to your love of words, you likely share the philosophy of epeolatry with us — the ones who work on a dictionary website and absolutely love it.
Librocubricularist: Someone Who Reads in Bed
Millions of people in the world suffer from librocubricularism, and there is no cure. A librocubricularist is a person prone to reading in bed. Symptoms include at least one book on the nightstand at all times, a proclivity to being a night owl, and absolutely fascinating dreams. Wait, did we say “suffer from”? Replace that with “completely enjoy.” The only one suffering may be a bedroom partner who dislikes the constant glare of a book light. (Just one more chapter!)
Logophile: Word Lover
Your friends refuse to play online word games with you. You regularly decimate your family during a game of Scrabble (and you know that that’s not technically how to use the word decimate). You’re a logophile: a lover of words. And while that may affect your social circle, who really cares as long as you have books?
Omnilegent: Very Well-Read
While book lovers may not be omniscient (“all-knowing”), they can certainly describe themselves as omnilegent (“all-read”). Typically used to describe someone’s in-and-out knowledge of a body of work, it’s an excellent descriptor for those who consider bestseller lists to be to-do lists, not merely suggestions.
Tsundoku: Accumulating Books Without Reading Them
How often do you leave the bookstore without a new book? If the answer is “not often” or “is that even possible?” then you may be a tsundoku master. Tsundoku refers to the practice of buying new books without reading them. It combines the Japanese words tsunde boku, meaning “to let things pile up” and dokusho, which means “to read books.” Tsundoku may result in a cluttered nightstand, but it does prevent the crippling abibliophobia that haunts every book lover.
Portmanteaus for Bookworms
If words derived from Latin, Greek and Japanese weren’t enough to encapsulate your love of reading, there’s more! Try out some clever portmanteaus that capture even more specific book-related phenomena.
Ambuliterate: Someone Who Can Read and Walk
The most coordinated (and risk-tolerant) book lovers can read and walk at the same time. You can call yourself ambuliterate if you can successfully manage this task (not recommended for walks through parking lots or along the sides of a cliff).
Litmosphere: The Universe of Readers
Those lucky book lovers who have a dedicated book club surely know the meaning of litmosphere: the atmosphere of literary appreciation. But even if you don’t have a group of novel buddies to hang out with, there is a whole world of readers out there who love reading just as much as you do.
Perfictionist: A Picky Reader
Nothing can please a perfictionist — not even a good book. They’re readers who can spot every red herring, name every plot hole and hate even the most likable protagonist. If you find one who does end up liking a book, never go to the movie adaptation with them unless you want an earful of “actually, in the book …”
Readultery: Cheating On One Book With Another
We’ve all done it: You’re 50 pages into a book with a slow build, and suddenly that book you’ve been dying to read crosses your path. Are you really expected to wait until you’ve finished the slow one first? If not, you’re committing readultery by cheating on your first book with another. But don’t worry — books are much more understanding than spurned lovers.
Readgret: Book-Related Regret
Readgret can refer to two different feelings. First, it can describe that letdown you feel after finishing an amazing book too quickly without savoring it. Second, readgret can refer to your reluctance to start a book that ends up being amazing. Why were you avoiding it for so long?
Readirect: Shifting the Conversation Back to Books
In a perfect world, all conversations would revolve around books. To book lovers, they do — sometimes by force. If you bring up a great book you just finished and someone changes the subject, you can readirect by bringing up another book or by mentioning that great book again. They’d really like it if they just give it a try!
Sentranced: Memorized By a Sentence
When you read a sentence that makes it feel as though the world stopped spinning, you’ve been sentranced. Reserved for only the most prosaic and poetic works of literature, this experience can give even the most egregious binge reader a moment of pause.
Shelfrighteous: Feeling Smug About Your Book Collection
Your bookshelf not only looks good, but it also holds an amazing variety of books. Classics, contemporary fiction, literary nonfiction, reference materials — it may even be color-coordinated. If you’ve ever discreetly placed yourself in front of your perfect bookshelf in a social media or dating app photo (known as a shelfie), you could consider yourself shelfrighteous. (And depending on the dating app, that’s not a bad thing.)
Ubookquitous: The Book You Can’t Escape
Oprah says you should read it. Your best friend says you should read it. Your boss really wants to talk to you about it. Do you really want to read such an ubookquitous book? Like you have a choice. Worst case scenario, you can add it to your nightstand stack and commit readultery with another book.
For the Love of Reading
Now that you’ve taken your obligatory break from reading your book (by reading about books), check out these additional resources for book lovers: