This post was written for readers like you!
I was thinking about how my reading habits have changed since the pandemic. While I have been a fan of audiobooks for a few years now, my consumption of audiobooks has increased significantly with the pandemic. Now, I find myself finishing most books in a period of 24 to 72 hours, depending on my interest level. This is going to sound absurd…ludicrous even…but in a period of just over four months I have listened to 63 audiobooks (a few such titles here). I will clarify that I listen to audiobooks while walking/ baking/ sewing and other easy activities and on 1.25 to 1.5 audio speed. Additionally, I am mostly a solitary creature… which affords me loads of time unencumbered….
If this still sounds kind of insane — I wholeheartedly agree with you! In fact, to me, it sounds so crazy, I was sure there must be a word for such a practice (reading a lot, I mean).
This thought led me down a series of Google Searches to the somewhat unsatisfying conclusion that there isn’t really a word for someone who reads a lot. Instead, there are many other words including:
Bibliomaniac: someone who obsessively or compulsively collects or hoards books to the point that it is damaging to social relationships
Bibliophile: someone who loves books/ loves collecting books/ loves reading books; this person may also be known as a ‘bookworm’
Hyperlexic: a child who begins reading precociously before the age of 5
Tsundoku: a Japanese word for the collection of reading materials that accumulate/ pile up unread
While I find all of the above to be interesting words, none capture the simple idea of “someone who reads a lot.”
I did a little more digging, however, and did stumble across the word “bibliobibuli.” This word (not included in all dictionaries) was coined by Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956), who is best known for writing The American Language (1919), which makes commentary on how the English language is spoken in the U.S.. According to Mencken, the word “bibliobibuli” is a portmanteau from the Greek word “biblio,” meaning “books” and the Latin word “bibulous,” derived from a word meaning “to drink.” Together these roots make up “bibliobibuli,” meaning “someone who reads too much.”
In a note published in 1957 (after the author’s death), Mencken wrote, “There are people who read too much: the bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing.”
The word and the definition are satirical, but I feel that this word is totally applicable to my situation. I love listening to audiobooks and wandering the world with a narrator in my ear, but, perhaps, this tendency is making me a part of the bibliobibuli, or in my case the “audiobibliobibuli….”
On that note, dear Reader, I urge you to imbibe in literary pleasures responsibly, lest you too fall into the wayward ways of the bibliobibuli.