The Reader’s 5 Love Languages

The relationship between a reader and his or her books is unlike any other. Books won’t dump you to hang out with someone else, won’t drag you to that movie or party you don’t want to attend, and when you’re content to spend the day lazing around the house, a book will totally join you. But just because books are the sort of constant companions that won’t slam the door in your face or refuse to answer your text messages, doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about demonstrating your love for them in concrete ways. They still deserve to be appreciated, and if you want them to stick around for the long haul, try reminding them of your eternal dedication in one of the ways Gary Chapman coined in his book, The 5 Love Languages (which, as it turns out, are ideally suited to both human and human-book relationships):

Quality Time

Uninterrupted time spent reading ensures that your books know you care about them. When you turn off the television, stow your phone in a drawer somewhere, and turn your attention to the pages in front of you, you’re saying to the book in your hand, “You matter. I’m here for you, and only you, right now” (pro tip: don’t actually say this, you know, out loud, in a public place. Or do, but know that I assume no responsibility for the stares I’m sure you’ll get as a result).


Quality time is definitely the best gift you can give to your books, but avid readers also know that the best gift they can receive from anyone is, well, a book. This is also a rather excellent litmus test for ensuring which of those non-book, human relationships are actually worth pursuing.

Acts of Service

“If you love someone, let them go.” I’ll admit that in the context of human relationships, that line has never really made much sense to me, but it turns out it’s entirely appropriate in the world of books. Donating books you’ve read and adored to a library or a homeless shelter, volunteering for story time at a children’s hospital or bookstore, or sharing favorite reads with a friend are entirely appropriate ways to both serve the community and demonstrate your devotion to books. You care about these books and want others to love them, too.

Physical Touch

Raise your hand if you’ve ever stood in a library or a used bookstore and picked books off the shelf, not to read the synopses or the reviews on the back, but to smell or hug them.

…Just me? Oh. Cool. I’m sure there are others, but I wouldn’t want to embarrass you, so I’ll just pretend to believe the lie while giving you one of those knowing winks.

In any case, obsessive readers know there are few things in this world that compare to the feeling of holding a book in one’s hands and marveling at the miracle of the dream within it, of absorbing the precision of the ink and the way the edges of the pages brush against the side of your thumb as you turn the page. I suppose you could read a book at arm’s length, without touching it at all, but I feel like that would get uncomfortable really quickly, and you’d probably need some sort of contraption for that feat that hasn’t been invented yet. Moving on…

Words of Affirmation

Aka the Enthusiastic Review, in which you tell a friend in conversation, or the world via social media or on a website, how divine/inspiring/eloquent/intriguing/innovative/thought-provoking/amazing your most recent favorite book is. Like any of us, books enjoy receiving compliments, and many of them truly deserve one. Think of all the warm fuzzies you’re planting in a book’s heart when you gush about it, and know that the simple value of saying, “I loved it!” in affirming a book’s worth cannot be overstated.

Photo Credit: __NormalGirl via Compfight cc
About the author

Sarah Zentner

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