The Haves and The Have Nots of the Literary World

Usually when referring to those who "have" and those who "have not," we are talking about a person's financial and social position. However, for the purposes of this post, I am referring to those who have experienced the transformative power of books and those who, quite simply, have not.

I was bitten very early on by the "reading bug." For as long as I can remember, reading has been a huge part of my life, I read on an almost daily-basis. If I go more than a day or two without reading, I get restless and out of sorts. For me, books have always been a place of refuge from everyday life; I can disappear into the world of stories and leave my life behind. It is as though all my cares, my stresses, my responsibilities just melt away. Nothing else outside the world of the book matters. It is pure bliss and I will happily (and proudly) admit to being addicted to the wonderful world of literature. Most of you reading this blog probably feel very similar. We are the "Haves."

There are people out there who do not read, shocking I know, but it is true. It is not as though they never read or despise reading, they just don't read very much (a few books a year, maybe) and they feel like reading is more of a chore than a pleasure. These people are the "Have Nots." 

The "Have Nots" will never understand a book lover's obsessive need to always have a book on the go, just as the "Haves" will never understand how a person can get by on reading only once in a blue moon. Of course, there are a lot of people who fall somewhere in the middle, they love reading and do so on a regular basis. They will happily engage in a conversation about books, and they understand wholeheartedly the power of reading a book. They are like the upper middle-class of the literary world, but not quite the 1%.

As a total bibliophile, I will occasionally find myself at odds with the "Have Nots" when reading is concerned. There have been numerous times in my life when all I want to do is curl up with my book and shut out the rest of the world, including other people. This is as necessary for my well-being as my morning smoothie and getting fresh air everyday. It is not because I don't like you, or because I am anti-social. It is simply because I have a burning, unyielding and passionate need to read. If I do not fulfill this need I become at best, a "Grumpy Gus" and at worst, a raging, crying ball of fury.  For some people, this is an unreasonable and strange need that they will seemingly never understand. Sometimes not having this need understood by those around me can be hurtful, as though I am not accepted for who I am (an insatiable book nut who cannot be stopped). 

But, you know what? More often than not I feel sympathy for these "Have Nots" rather than contempt. I feel sorry that they have never experienced the joy that comes with loving a book so much that it gives your life new meaning. And so, fellow book lover, next time you are chided for choosing books over play just smile and nod, bury your nose back into the pages and slip into your special book world. You are so lucky that such a world exists for you.

“At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book--that string of confused, alien ciphers--shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader.”

-Alberto Manguel


  • LaurenElle | 16 March 2012 at 13:06

    Hmm... Not sure if I agree 100%. While I might consider myself a "Have" by your initial definition, I do not see myself in some sort of special class of people.

    I know the intended audience for this blog is at least close to 100% "Haves" )and therefore this kind of blogging is totally appropriate) BUT why don't we, as readers, try to break down the us/them dichotomy?

    I always thought that, while books are definitely a valid and important passion to many people - they are also unique in one very important way... There is a book out there for just about every passion - from true crime novels to fitness guides. If you love something in this world, chances are there will be at least one book written about that very subject! Anyone can be a book lover, they just haven't found the right books to love yet.

    I'm getting off topic. I love the new blog layout, Kate, and I love your passion for passion. Keep it up!

  • Ikhlas | 16 March 2012 at 13:23

    Great post, Kate! There is definitely a dichotomy of the 'haves' vs. the 'have nots', and I agree with LaurenElle, down with the barrier!

    Sometimes it just takes a special topic or book to get something bitten by the 'reading bug'. My cousin never read and often made fun of me UNTIL he read Harry Potter. Same with another group of friends. They never liked reading and them BOOM Twilight happened. I know a lot of people don't think its a 'proper' reading choice, but hey, at least it got them reading. :)

  • Kate | 16 March 2012 at 16:49

    Haha, I was intentionally hyperbolic about the dichotomy between passionate readers and those who don't read/ read less. This post came about after a recent experience wherein I was chided for wanting to read on a bus ride rather than converse with others, and my realization that similar situations have happend to me routinely throughout my life. People who don't love reading don't always get the need I have to read on a regular basis and I get (sometimes a little too much) touchy about it.

    I love that anyone can be a book lover as Lauren points out, they just need to find the right book. Which in this day and age, with all the options out there is sure to happen. and Ikhlas, I don't think there is any "proper reading choice either. Reading is reading is reading, not mater what form it takes. I think books like Harry Potter and Twilight are great for that, they are wonderful "gateway" books for people who don't otherwise read much...and for us more seasoned readers (haha), well they are just another book to disappear into :)

  • LaurenElle | 17 March 2012 at 17:11

    I think the root of the problem is something more like this:

    Reading (as an activity) is inherently for one person at a time. Even if we're in the same room and reading the same book, we are having to separate experiences. While we can chat and talk about book as much as possible, when we are engaged in a book we are cutting ourselves off from the social world (not saying this is a bad thing!)

    And YAY for gateway books.. I love that most "haves" can name the book that got them out of the "have-not" camp. You should do a blog about *those* books :)

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