“Avid reader” definition

Would you describe yourself as an “avid reader”?  If so, how, would you say, is an “avid reader” defined?  Is it a question of quality, quantity, passion, or some combination?  Or is it something else entirely?

I am a great lover.  Of books <ahem>.  And I always have been.  As far back as I can remember, and I suspect even earlier than that.  I have always felt compelled by this inner drive to read, an obsession, almost.  Every waking moment I find myself desiring to read.  I am desirous.  Of books.  Not to own them, necessarily.  But to read them.  To smell them.  To have them.  To hold them.  No moment is allowed to pass idly by if I have or know of a book anywhere in the vicinity.  If I come across a book, in a bookstore, say, I have to fight off this almost overwhelming urge to plop right down and read the whole thing.  It’s (almost) like a disease.  So, I would argue, I have the passion requisite to qualify me as an avid reader.

But is there a quantity component?  If so, I feel quite certain I have that too.  I read books all the time, as many as I can, as much as I can.  I am currently actively reading six books, not including the one I am listening to in my car (no radio for me; a waste, I think, radio).  I am quite certain, however, that because of circumstances and things, there are others who succeed at reading more than I do.  Not for lack of wanting to on my part; not at all.  I just have a lot to do.  Are they more “avid” than I?  I guess it depends on your “avid” definition.

And is there a quality component?  And no, I don’t mean you can’t read paperback editions.  I have read water-damaged books, books with pages heavily marked, covers missing; if it’s legible, I read it, there is no shame in that.  I am speaking more about content.  Does it matter?  Could someone who reads teen romance that may or may not betimes wax vampiric be said to be just as “avid” as someone that prefers the Iliad in its original Homeric Greek?

Is it a subjective determination?  Are all “avid” readers created equal?  I want to hear about your personal vision.  If you are one, tell me how and why, and let’s come up with a working avid reader definition.

PS: If you’re looking for something weird to read, you might enjoy this post on strange books.

12 thoughts on ““Avid reader” definition

  1. I read at red lights, I read at the grocery store, I read in bed, I read while I’m watching TV, and I’ve always got two books in my coat pockets.

    I’ve got books on my phone and I listen to books during my commute.

    Have you ever read Nicholas Basbanes’ A Gentle Madness? It sums up “avid reader” nicely, with some well-deserved emphasis on the madness.

  2. Wow! I never would have thought to read at red lights. That’s taking it to a whole new level. I carry books in my pockets, too. And one in the small of my back, tucked in, like a gat. Because you never know.

    I haven’t read the Basbane book, but I will add it to my increasingly unmanageable list. There is a sort of “madness” to it; I’m glad you point that out. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • It’s very interesting. There’s a bit about a famous book thief who pulled off some incredible heists from universities and special collections. They used the insanity defense in his trial because he never sold them. He just kept them all for himself.

      • Is this book fiction? One of my favorite literary genres is non-serial-killer-true-crime. Like Catch Me if You Can (a fascinating book, better than the movie) (though I liked the movie). I also really, really liked Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief. Under different circumstances, my life may have turned out very differently.

          • Is it a story or a guidebook? You did gather that I am interested as a fan of the genre, not as an author (or a subject, for that matter)?

  3. It’s a history of murder by poison and forensic science. Scientists would learn to detect a chemical in a dead body, murderers would switch poisons, and they would start over.

    Also, one of the key figures in new yorks developing csi department was named Charles Norris.

  4. Another interesting article on what it means to be an “avid reader”. Everyone seems to have more or less similar definitions of what an avid reader is.

    While developing Ereading.com, we found ourselves needing to define it for the purposes of our business plan. What we came up with was that avid readers, by our definition, read 8 or more books a year. That is in addition to their reading of newspapers, magazines, blogs, cereal boxes, bus station posters…you get the idea.

    Personally, I have read about 28 books so far this year, most of them novels, but not all. I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on since I was a kid. To be helping other people read, and doing it with a social-betterment business model that supports literacy and education, is a dream come true for me and for everyone at Eread Technologies!

    Richard D. Starr
    CEO & Co-Founder,
    Eread Technologies, Inc.


    • What an awesome idea, and an exciting business/website. I will be following with great interest. 8 is your number, huh? I guess it depends. Not necessarily a quantitative calculation, at least not exclusively. One could avidly read one book for a year or more, I suppose. My number for the year so far is around 40. It would be higher if I could find the time. I read a lot for work, but that is reading of a very different kind. Nothing inspires me more than people passionately following their dreams. Thanks so much for writing!

  5. I’ve always thought of myself as an avid reader. Your avid reader meaning makes me question that somewhat. I recently typed “avid reader define” into Google, and it brought me to your website. I like it, and I like your content. No matter the wreckage, I will remain a dedicated fan.

  6. Pingback: Avid Reader Definition | The Writer's Block

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