Bullying and reading

My co-worker has been bullying me. At first, it started with him bullying me with work-related tasks. (I promise this will talk about books in a second). But he started to call me a rude nickname and will say inappropriate comments to me as well.

Needless to say, the other day I was talking to another co-worker about this blog and my love of books. This bully co-worker’s response shocked me. He immediately insulted me. He said if you read that many books then there is something wrong with me. He also said that I only read (these are his words- NOT mine) “smut” books. He believed this was the only genre of books that I could read. Then in an attempt to belittle me, he told everyone in the office that I read “smutty” books. He then wanted me to know that he was “covering for me” while I was on vacation. He stated that “relax on vacation, don’t think about here, and don’t take a book.” I asked him, “why not take a book?” He said that it was not relaxing. I responded with “to a non-reader, it is not relaxing.” He then made sure that everyone knew that I was a nerd. (Now do NOT get me wrong, I wear the term “nerd” proudly). I guess by talking about books and this blog, I was providing him with the ammo that he needed to continue the abuse.

In elementary school, I always hid my reading from others. It always felt taboo- in a sense. What if someone found out that I am a reader? They would call me a nerd, bully me, etc. I never showed that side of myself. I also had a lisp and stutter. I was in speech classes to learn tricks to say words properly. Needless to say, reading out loud was horrible for me. I remember reading a book on tape for elementary school students in 7th grade. This was when audiobooks were on cassettes and were very expensive. As a 7th grader, I wanted to share my love of books with others. The teacher came up to me to tell me that they did not want the students to hear my lisp and pronounce the words the same way. After that, I refused to read aloud- even to this day.

As a senior, I had a teacher who believed in me a lot. He really taught me a lot about how talented I was at reading and analyzing books. I remember reading Shakespeare in his class. His passion and excitement really helped me to discover that maybe my mission in life was to become an English teacher. Before this class, I had not decided on my future career path.

In college, I decided to major in secondary education: English where I excelled academically. I graduated summa cum laude from the program! Reading more than 10 books at once per week was common among English literature majors. I had finally discovered that reading and talking about books was not taboo. People wanted to hear what I had to say about a novel. I had this one professor who pushed me to speak up. I was so shy about talking about books. She read my journals and told me that my thoughts were excellent. With some pushing, one day I actually raised my hand in class. I credit this professor with her “finding my voice” and speaking out books.

After college, reading wasn’t a chore anymore. It was for pleasure. I taught at the high school level for about 10 years. I currently work with adults. I still “teach” but mainly write resumes and teach workshops.

You can tell when I am stressed out. I will either:

A. Read more books- if I am reading 10 books at once, leave me be

B. Stop reading altogether. I am at option B right now. This could change to option A at a drop of a hat. I think my mind has been binge-watching the TV show “Brothers and sisters” after reading Sally Field’s books “In Pieces.”

After I tell people that I am a reader, I have people say things like:

You must be a speed reader. My response: Nope…just do not watch so much TV. People can watch 4 hours or more of TV a night. I watch 1 hour.

You must not have a life. My response: I live on a farm. I am always moving and shaking. I just make reading a priority.

You must read these genres (“Smut,” “Dime Romance,” “children’s books,” “Comic Book,” etc.). Or they always recommend Stephen King, Sparks, and any and all of the popular mainstream authors. My response: Although I do read them on occasion, mainstream authors are not my style. I am not a huge King and Sparks fan, but I do read their novels.

I have not read a book since elementary school. I cannot believe that people still read books. My response: My response ranges on this one. I will tell them that I do not think that they should brag about not reading a book. I will also state that maybe it is time to pick up a book then recommend some based on their interests.

Books are dying. My response: Actually they are not. Book stores remain, and the book industry is booming. It is just evolving into ebooks, physical, audiobooks, etc. The book industry will outlive all of us.

Reading is boring. My response: Reading is boring to you- not me. Reading takes me places and teaches me new things. Reading changes my perspectives on topics or people as well.

Do they still have libraries? My response: Yes. They are a crucial part of our communities. See my other blog post all about how much the libraries are used for not just books.

You should be a librarian if you like to read. You have a degree to teach reading, why are you working here? My response: ***My bully co-worker once he found out that I read books, he started to find jobs as a librarian for me to apply. He has been relentless about it. *** My response was that I need a degree in Library Science to apply. I like my reading to stay a hobby and not a career. I also let my teaching certificate lapse when I started to work outside of the school districts. Unless someone pays for graduate school, I may be out of luck teaching English in my state.

Have you ever been bullied about reading? Have you been in a reading slump?

I need to focus more on my mental health. I may need a book that is light-hearted and happy to get me out of this slump. Any suggestions on a book that I can read?

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