Biblio – of or that relating to books
Maniac – A person who has an obsession with or excessive enthusiasm for something (Syn: lunatic, madman).
When my mother brought home a copy of Gulliver’s Travels one hot June evening many years ago, it was simply meant to keep me out of mischief during the summer holidays. Little did she realize then that she’d just doomed her 6 year old to lifelong lunacy of another kind, one that eventually turned him into an incorrigible bibliomaniac. Today, it seems to be a lost cause as he spends his afternoons drifting through time and space with the phantoms from his latest novel, looking up occasionally with glazed eyes at an unfamiliar world, his office work desk.
Deep introspection and careful scrutiny of individuals suffering from this insidious malaise has revealed some truly alarming symptoms. For the savvy readers of Books and a Lot More, I present an exclusive list of results from the ongoing studies for my research paper, The Tragic Pitfalls of Bibliomania. Remember, even one of the following common symptoms is a sure sign of full blown BM!
- You may have turned into a crusty old book snob. “People who read Chetan Bhagat are absolute philistines. Second only to Dan Brown fanbois. Why, those clods are sub-human.”
- You never have any extra cash/credit. This may result in you becoming a biblio-bandit. Ebooks are stupid, of course.
- You have those crummy, free bookmarks lying around everywhere.
- At some point in your life, you have been a Howard Roark wannabe.
- You waste 30 minutes on the potty every day, setting up your imaginary bathroom library.
- Being asked to lend a book can cause respiratory problems and, should you actually agree, cause you to lend grandiose sentiments of renouncement and detachment from worldly possessions to the simple act of lending a book to a friend.
- You’ve never quite forgiven your mother for giving away your almighty stash of Nagraj and Champak to the raddi walla when you were 13.
- You buy books from a bookshop 12 miles away because the one nearby puts a tiny rubber stamp on the flyleaf. You have no issue, however, buying cheap library discards with rubber stamps on every centimeter of the flyleaf.
- You’ve begun dreading the arrival of the Sunday paper because there’s just too much good stuff to read and you’re not even done with Saturday’s.
- You start carrying a book everywhere, including to your own birthday party. Which you’re hosting. For your imaginary friends. And the Flipkart delivery man.
- You pause a movie just to make sure you get the name of the book which somebody in the scene is reading.
- Multitasking is being able to turn the pages with your chin while holding a book with one hand and hanging on to the Metro rod with the other.
- You start living as far away from your office as possible, just so you can read during the commute.
- The biggest fear in your life is breaking up because then they might want their books back. The rascals.
- Your steamiest fantasy is cuddling up with her and reading Dostoevsky. Together.
- You have a regularly updated list of fictional people you want to date. You have actually gone on dates with them. Fictional? Ha, why you can still smell the filter coffee from your last date at the coffee house, in Malgudi.
- You actually start believing that you are smarter than the guy on the street because you managed to finish Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.
- You have researched perfume that smells like old books. And have prepared an ad for the matrimonial section seeking a girl who sleeps on a bookshelf and will fetch her grandfather’s collection of Jughead Double Digests as dowry. That dowry is cool.
- Moving house is impossible because your book rack is heavier than the truck. Actually, your book rack is your house.
- You wish Indian Railways would add a Library Coach to their trains. You also wish for waterproof books that you can read in the rain and biscuit packets with tiny short stories printed on them because you read biscuit packets (and whatever looks like text on the last 10 Rupee note you have after the other day’s ruinous trip to the bookshop).
Intensive research into what is now a worldwide epidemic has failed to reveal a cure. Bibliomaniacs are a part of society. They could be anyone. They are everywhere. Some are known to be armed with paperbacks and camouflaged by spectacles. Or not. That is the most diabolical aspect of bibliomania. A regular guy walking down the street in front of you could suddenly bend down without warning, pick up a crumpled wrapper and start… reading. There is, simply, no way to know.
The list above is meant to be used as a quick check list to see if, holy printing mistakes batman, you too are a *shudder* bibliomaniac.
Are you one then?
Issued in public service.
About the author of this post: Abhiroop is an avid follower of current events and enjoys debating issues of such burning importance as to whether the graffiti on Delhi walls that forbid sundry passers-by from taking a casual leak on them should also be in Arabic, Gurumukhi and Roman scripts. He lives in New Delhi and has a not so secret affection for cows.
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