Book Reportarrhea: Genetic or Caused By Reading Non-Fiction?

Jodi Chromey

Staff Writer

Jodi Chromey is a freakishly tall writer who edits MN Reads and has been blogging at I Will Dare since 2000. Follow her on Twitter: @jodiwilldare

As you may or may not remember, I babysit my nephews (ages eleven, nine, and eight) collectively known as The Tibbles every summer. The Tibbles hate reading fiction.

Thankfully, this summer we have put that battle aside. They have accepted their fiction-reading fate, and I let it slide if a week or so goes by without any actual fiction getting read. People with children will know that this is called choosing your battles.

Every week when we return from the library, we all pile onto the couch and they get to reading while I sit quietly not speaking and congratulating myself on another successful trip to the library where nobody was maimed or killed.

Within minutes of sitting down I am hit with a barrage of brand new facts about whatever it is they’re reading: Sasquatch, Mysteries of the Deep, Tornadoes, the Encyclopedia of Presidents, 100 German Words, or Various Animals that Can Kill You by Looking at You.

Because I am kind of a jerk and the sheer amount of words that can pour out of a young boy’s mouth is overwhelming, when under siege I generally shake my head encouragingly while emitting noises that sound like interest and delight. “Ohhhh. Really? Wow!”

Someday they will be surfing about the etherworld on their äppärät and find this post and think, “Aunt Jodi sucks. We never liked her.”

Now, here’s the thing. I think this whole Book Reportarrhea, the uncontrollable discharge of brand, new facts unknown by us before, is adorable. And, as I found out last week, it might be genetic.

There was I was curled up on the couch with Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways by Evelyn McDonnell when I found myself reaching for my phone.

“Sandy, drummer for The Runaways, was told by her school (pre-Title IX) it was inappropriate for girls to play drums,” I tweeted. This wasn’t my first tweet about Queens of Noise. Then I thought back to the last non-fiction book I read: The Heart memoir that rocked my world. I tweeted so much about that my friend Christa thought maybe I had joined a Heart cult. And then there was the Scientology book and the Pete Townshend autobiography and . . .

So now I wonder is Book Reportarrhea genetic or is it caused by non-fiction? Do you get it? Do you have to share brand-new facts the minute you learn them?