I am a Reader. And yes I use initial caps for that. A Reader is someone who reads for the sheer enjoyment of it. Not to pass the time or to educate ourselves, although that's always a nice by-product. We carry books around with us just in case we get a moment or two when nothing else is expected of us. If we walk into the doctor's office and we are told it will be a 15 minute wait, we are secretly gleeful because it means we get 15 minutes of reading time, guilt free. We aren't neglecting something else we should be doing, its not our fault that there's a wait. But we're willing to take advantage of it.
My reading is an addiction, an obsessive-compulsive disorder I cheerfully embrace. I'd rather be reading than doing anything else. I can lose myself for hours between the pages of a book. I need to read the way an athlete needs exercise. And a lot of people don't understand that. They don't need to understand. Just accept. I am blessed because I have people in my life who do accept. My love of books is not because my life is boring, or no more than anyone else's anyway. Its not because I have nothing else to do. Its not because I am devoid of friends. I have friends. I have family. I have a job and responsibilities and obligations up the Yazoo. My love of the written word is not something that needs fixing, or a 12-step program. It is not something that I can be coaxed out of or shown the error of my ways. I read for the sheer pleasure of it. I read because its FUN. I read because its what I most want to be doing at any given time.
And I am not alone. This reading obsession is not an aberration, it is not abnormal. Lots of people feel exactly the way I do. I know this because I've encountered them. Oh, yes, we recognize each other. We're the folks who carry a book with us EVERYWHERE. We're on building rooftops (its quiet and not crowded), on subway cars (you aren't expected to make eye contact anyway), in coffee shops (its practically trendy to read over your latte). And every so often self-preservation nudges at us enough to look up and around at the rest of the world. At the table next door, or a few people away we'll spot another head buried in another book. Maybe that person will look up at that moment and see our book, our eyes will meet, and we both smile. Because we recognize a kindred spirit. And then we go back to reading because conversation is not only not encouraged, its a breach of Reader etiquette.
So, the next time you see someone sitting in the waiting room/coffee shop/subway car/etc. and they have a book in front of them ... leave them alone; they're reading.