Book Zombie

zone out while reading, reading addict, can't stop reading, staying up late to read, tune out the world when reading,

L.G. Weldon, book zombie

book [book]  noun
1. a work of fiction or nonfiction bound within covers or digital version
zom·bie  [zom-bee] noun
1. a person whose behavior or responses are wooden, inanimate, remote
 2. an eccentric or peculiar person.


I stayed up past two a.m. last night happily churning through a book. Reading seems timeless to me, a book-related fugue state that got me in trouble in elementary school.  Many days the class moved on from reading time to math while I remained completely absorbed in a book. I’d look up to find I’d been called on to answer an equation. My brain would scramble to move from The Wolves of Willoughby Chase’s18th century manor house to third grade long division, the plight of children dealing with villians more real than dreary numbers chalked on the board.

This still causes me trouble. I have no idea how many minutes or hours have elapsed when I finally lift my eyes from the page. That’s not helpful. At night I tuck into an enticing stack of books, often enjoying non-fiction for a few hours and then finishing up with a long indulgent dessert of fiction. The evening me doesn’t care about the morning me, she unpages chapter after chapter oblivious of the clock’s reality. But no matter how late she stays up reading there’s still an early start. When the morning me looks at the stack of books she isn’t bitter. She may sigh, but she also looks forward to reading some more.

When my kids were tiny I only let myself read when they were asleep or nursing. Okay, I also read while they were safely strapped in the stroller, pushing it with a book propped against the handle. I hoped this would keep them safe from their mother’s zombie reading state. It didn’t. Now they’re zombies when they read. Or maybe they pretend to be, the better to filter out reminding parental voices.

I can’t recall a fraction of all the marvelous books, essays, poems, and articles I’ve read over the years. But I’m convinced that they’re in there, ready to provide a bit of insight or wisdom I might call on when the need arises. They are a part of who I am as surely as the experiences that make up my life.

Yes, today I feel pretty zombified with only a few hours of sleep due to the magical novel, The Night Circus. But if my schedule allowed I wouldn’t wait until this evening to finish it.

Perhaps because I’m tired, it occurs to me that books lure us into this zombification. Think about it. Close scrutiny of readers reveals that we willingly zone out, only our eyes moving in oddly repetitive back and forth motions. While reading we are out of our own minds, happily roaming through the imaginings of someone else’s. Perhaps our beloved books build brains to feed on them. If that were true I’d say, “Nosh away my dear books. Make a buffet of my mind. I am your happy zombie.”

Are you a fellow book zombie? If so, what are you reading lately? And if not, does something else cause you to zombie-out?

About Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is a writer and editor, perhaps due to an English professor's scathing denunciation of her writing as "curious verbiage." She's the author of "Free Range Learning," a handbook of natural learning and "Tending," a poetry collection. (lauragraceweldon.com) She's working on her next book, "Subversive Cooking" (subversivecooking.com). She lives on Bit of Earth Farm where she is a barely useful farm wench. Although she has deadlines to meet she often wanders from the computer to preach hope, snort with laughter, cook subversively, talk to chickens and cows, discuss life’s deeper meaning with her surprisingly tolerant offspring, sing to bees, hide in books, walk dogs, concoct tinctures, watch foreign films, and make messy art.
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21 Responses to Book Zombie

  1. Lynni says:

    I am a bit of a book Zombie myself when I remember my love of books long enough to sit down with one, currently working my way through “The power of a praying wife” by Stormie O’martin and her husband I have exausted my supply of Fiction so a trip to the local libary is in order soon as the weather holds out long enough

  2. Lee Aiken says:

    I’m definitely a fellow book zombie! In fact I stayed up until 4am last night reading a lovely fairy-tale called Book of a Thousand Days by Sannon Hale. Nosh, nosh, nosh.

  3. Leslie Boomer says:

    I recall another time you read when the children were small… sitting on the closed lid of the commode in a steamy bathroom whist little Benjamin splashed happily in the sudsy water in the tub. You would sneak in a paragraph or two until the happy little one would emerge from the tub wrinkled like a prune. I did it too – they could play gleefully with water – I could peacefully get a little reading time in – a win/win for mother and child! Nosh away my friend – I need to do that more these days.

    • Laura Weldon says:

      You’re so right! I got more than a few paragrahs in that way. I let small children to stay and play in the tub as long as they wanted so I could sit there reading. In fact, to keep the tub warm we’d start what we called a “campfire.” We left the hot water on just enough to dribble, but they had to stay away from the steaming faucet just as they might a campfire.

      May you find more time to sink into books!

      • Bikil says:

        Ooh! I do that too! And now that my daughter is older, she can splash around in the tub forever all by herself and I can lay on my bed in the next room and keep an ear on her. I love it! She has had some epic baths that have allowed me to finish books I was reading, hee!

  4. Tim Gilbride says:

    Does it count if I don’t read the books cover to cover? I often dip into books from the new releases section of my library branch. I’ve been struggling a bit with David Deutsch’s The Beginning Of Infinity, but I keep coming back to it. I don’t even know how to describe it to people. I also have out a collection of essays by Bertrand Russell, which I know I won’t finish, but now I understand some things about socialism for the first time! And I’m reading and re-reading certain sections of Michael Bush’s huge new beekeeping book.
    By the way, I love your hat! Going to be offering those on Etsy soon?

    • Laura Weldon says:

      You may need a more balanced reading diet Tim. I used to exclusively read heavy tomes and, due to some ridiculous Puritan reading ethic, force myself to finish them even when the going was rough. I still enjoy Big Thought books (reading The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein, Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin, Journey of the Universe by Brian Swimme ) but I anticipate they’ll take months or longer even if they aren’t lengthy. This way I let them resonate in my head. Meanwhile I read more easily accessible books (The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe, Somatics by Thomas Hanna, Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life by
      Stephen Harrod Buhner) plus the occasional novel (The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea, Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris). And these are just a few of the books I joyously dip into from stacks by the couch, on my desk, and next to my side of the bed. I’m a fan of bringing home new releases from the library each week too. But now I don’t make myself finish books that don’t keep my attention. I looked up The Beginning Of Infinity and have to admit, it looks pretty interesting. I’ve learned, as a book reviewer, to avoid agreeing to review books that fall into my category of Big Thought (as this one seems to be) because I might come away with a wider worldview and deeper understanding, but that’s hard to express in a 600 word review.

  5. I get so sucked in to fiction (particularly fantasy) that I hate to be interrupted by anyone or anything, so I made a rule for myself a long time ago that I would only read non-fiction, unless I get sick or go on vacation. When I’m sick, I don’t feel guilty about laying in bed all day reading Terry Pratchett or the Kingkiller Chronicles. Alas, I don’t get sick (or go on vacation) very often, so I have a stack of books waiting for me.

  6. Bikil says:

    When I was young, my Mom and I both read constantly. My stepdad finally made a rule that we couldn’t read at the dinner table because he was tired of eating and watching us read. While still young, I developed a habit of being able to walk and read at the same time. I can often be seen walking down the sidewalk, avoiding other pedestrians, avoiding bumps or objects in my way, all while reading a book. If that’s not a zombie, I don’t know what is, hee!

    After my daughter was born, it was hard to read, she needed me so much! But over the last while, as she’s gotten older, I have rediscovered how much I enjoy losing myself completely in a book. I am currently re-reading the Anne McCaffrey Dragon series in honor of her recent death. I am currently on “Nerilka’s Story” which is one of my favorites.

  7. Kimerly says:

    Aaaahhhhh! Reading! Such a pleasurable passtime! You look lovely as “The Queen of Books”. I read every day of every year, usually non-fiction. Right now I am reading “Six Healing Sounds” by Mantak Chia. And I snuck in a fiction book, last week, to take my mind off the pain of a broken nose. The book was “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”. A broken nose was nothing after learning about the painful intricacies of foot-binding.

    • Laura Weldon says:

      Sorry to hear about your broken nose. Hope you have a good “how it happened” story. If not, you’re a creative woman. You can make up a far more dramatic one, perhaps one that involves heroics, pathos, and a frog prince.

  8. Lately I’m reading aloud to my son more than I read to myself. We read the first of the Percy Jackson series. (I snuck in the second alone.) We also recently read a wonderful book called The Old Country, by Mordecai Gerson.

  9. Colleen says:

    I’m a book zombie too. I laughed out loud when you mentioned what you’re reading now because last night my husband was just teasing me about how I never hear him while I’m reading – and what was I reading? The Night Circus, of course. Such a good book!! I can’t put it down.

  10. Laura Weldon says:

    My real plot, of course, is to get my fellow Book Zombies to reveal what they’re reading. Muh ha ha.

  11. I think we could be twins because you describe exactly how I feel about books. When I was younger, I’d read a book every day. It’s one of the things that I miss the most now that I have two five year olds who want my attention all day long! But now I can share some great books with them – the books that I loved as a child and meant so much to me. We just finished reading the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – a series that was my favorite and that I was so excited to share with my kids. As they get older, I’m dreaming about entire days where all three of us just snuggle under a blanket the whole day reading our own books silently next to each other. Sigh.

    Anyway,thanks for the book suggestion. I just checked out the Night Circus on Amazon. It’s now on my wish list!

  12. Sara says:

    Book Zombie 100%!!! Im currently reading “The Greater Journey- Americans in Paris” by David McCullough. It is wonderful. :) im not real big on fiction most of the time, but I try to make it a priority to fit it in sometimes…..just to keep my imagination pumped. :)

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