Sh*t Book Nerds Do

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.


It struck me a couple of weeks ago as I was emailing a friend about books that half of the things I said in that email would make no sense to anyone who isn’t a book nerd. Do non-book nerds talk about how frequently they see covers featuring birds on them or debate about which sort of outdoor furniture arrangement is most comfortable to spend an afternoon reading in during the summer? Is it only book nerds who frequently ask themselves whether they’ve shoved a particular book on a shelf, in a bag, donated it, or lent it out to a friend because they can’t remember where it is?

In the spirit of shit book nerds do, I asked fellow Book Riot contributors to share their anecdotes from the book life. All of these are anonymous to protect the innocent. Of course, I want to hear those things you do as a book nerd that you suspect sets you apart from those who don’t live the book life.


  • “I can’t remember if the book is in my car, if I donated it, or if I lent it out and never got it back” – as shared in an email to a friend.
  • Keeping an entire library’s worth of books in your car. Just incase. Or because they don’t fit in your house anymore.
  • You create a stack of books to read next and promptly pick up another book entirely to start.
  • You hold off on re-reading the end of a beloved favorite (again) because you don’t want it to end (again).
  • Wait! Wash those hands before you pick up that book!
  • You pet book covers before you read them.
  • Policing random people in bookstores because they’re breaking the damn spines.
  • Constantly rearranging your bookshelves in different ways because you haven’t found the “perfect” system yet. By author? By genre then author? By color? By most loved?
  • You keep a color-coded spreadsheet to track your reading because none of the zillions of existing book-tracking software options is detailed enough for you and you *need* to make graphs at the end of the year. Need.
  • You ruin everyone’s movie watching experience by pointing out all the differences between the original book/source material and the film. (Husband won’t watch anything with Greek Mythology with me any longer.)
  • You have responded to your partner’s amorous advances with, “Just as soon as I finish this chapter.”
  • You consider quietly reading in a coffee shop to be an excellent 1) idea for a date, 2) idea for a friend hangout, 3) idea for yourself any day of the week.
  • You collect hard copies of series in the format in which you got the first one. If you got the first one in hardback, the rest of them are acquired thusly as well (even if you know you’ve got no chance of reading it before it comes out in paperback).
  • You exchange books with your mom by mail and then you have long phone conversations trying to remember who’s got which book and which book you want back.
  • You make sure to only buy purses/bags that are big enough to store a paperback. You can’t go out for drinks without taking a book along too.
  • When you were in fourth grade, you didn’t understand why your friends didn’t want to just come over and read quietly together.
  • You bring print books AND a stocked ereader on vacation. If you’re close to finishing your current book, you bring a back-up along, just in case you finish.
  • Your pets have adjusted to your household, tabletop, and bedside piles of books and use them for their own climbing, sleeping, and/or attention-getting purposes.
  • When you have guests over, piles of books get covered with linens of some sort and become new furniture.
  • When guests leave, you still use piles of books in various forms to perform furniture-related functions.
  • You do not have a single room in your home lacking a book or fifteen of some kind. Kitchen reading. Bedroom reading. Office reading. Bathroom reading. Guest bathroom reading. Guest bedroom reading. Den reading. You’re covered in any and all situations.
  • Still celebrating the birthdays of the ladies of The Baby-Sitters Club all these years later. Because why wouldn’t you worship your idols on their special days?
  • Your brother lost some of your complete collection of Animorphs book, and, if you’re being honest, you’re probably never going to get over it.