Writers have piles of books waiting to be read. Hardbacks and paperbacks are stacked on a night table and loaded into their Kindles, Nooks, and Tablets. Every writer is a reader—and we are all bookworms.
I began to wonder how the term originated and decided to do some research—a learning experience I find thought-provoking. In the process, I found out that the bookworm is not a lone creepy-crawly but significant groupings of bugs that find devouring books irresistible.
Aristotle wrote about insects over 2,200-years ago: “In books, animalcules are found, some resembling the grubs found in garments, and some resembling tailless scorpions, but very small.”
Silverfish are one of the most common insect to munch their way through a book—their favorite foods are the starch and proteins found in paper, prints, glue and paste. They avoid contact with direct sunlight. Writers do too—we spend most of our time working at our keyboards. Beetles do the most damage when they are in the larval stage as they devour their way through the book—some species feed on the paste and glue of cover and spine others the pages. When they become adults the beetles leave the book by chewing their way out leaving little round holes as they exit.
The term bookworm was used by Phillippus of Thessalonica in the first century A.D. when he lampooned grammarians and is applicable in our own 21st. Century.
Cyber space hasn’t changed the terminology. Bugs still manage to find their way onto our computers.
Are you a bookworm?