People who read and study a great deal are called bookworms. If you love books and reading as I do, one should think it a compliment, but it is considered to be derogatory. So try not to belt someone in their sour puss if they call you a BW (bookworm).
Merriam-Webster dictionary mentions synonyms for bookworms as nerd, dink, dork, geek, grind, weenie, wonk, and swot (British). It is also mentioned that bookworm was first used around 1580, but it does not cite by whom, not what context, nor if the term was for the lice/maggots/silverfish/ beetle that wormed their way through pages and bindings eating everything up, or if they meant it was used in derision of people who read a lot.
I don’t want to be referred to as a dork, but dink doesn’t sound so bad. The only time I have heard the word is in a Jimmy Durante song called I believe inka-dinka-doo” and that is another matter.
Back to worms, I just finished a novel Chatterton by Peter Ackroyd in which one of the characters, Charles Wychwood, a poet, does in fact eat pages of Dickens’ Great Expectations. Charles had other problems, writing block being one, or perhaps like Bartelby, he preferred not to. But Charles was a bookworm in the truest sense. Bon appetite!
I don’t know who first used the term in derogatory, mean-spirited, insulting, demeaning, bullying way, towards, I am sure, wonderful people, but it goes back a long time. We need not put up with this any longer. It is time to step out of the bookcase and announce to the world we are bookworms and proud of it.
We can have march to the Library of Congress to make the nation aware of us. We can form advocacy groups across the country. We should form support groups to not only discuss the slurs directed at us, but eat pages of books like Charles. Also a yearly Book Worm conference with guest speakers. We can write pamphlets about the joy of reading and create lists of good books to eat.
“When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.” ― Virginia Woolf
My e-novels and short stories listed below you can not eat, but reading does bring it’s own reward. In the meantime I have a Heinrich Von Kleist short story to munch on.