Book Words for Book Worms

There's more to books than just reading them. Books have a whole vocabulary associated with them that designates parts of books, kinds of books, people involved in the creation of books, even how books make us feel. This list is about book culture, words you'll often see when people talk about books. Books often open up new worlds to the reader, but they can be a world unto themselves, too.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. bibliophile
    someone who loves and usually collects books
    She ends up at Scroll, a company whose mission is “to reinvent reading the way Starbucks reinvented coffee” by creating lounges for bibliophiles.New York Times (Jul 27, 2017)
    A bibliophile is a word that literally means “book lover.” It is important to distinguish a bibliophile from a bibliomaniac. A bibliomaniac is someone whose hobby of collecting rare books has gotten out of control. Most bibliomaniacs are collectors first and don’t even read the books they buy, but when you call someone a bibliophile you’re talking about their love of reading first and foremost.
  2. tome
    a large and scholarly book
    Some readers will be aghast that chapters end with bullet-point summaries and questions, evoking the worst of unctuous business tomes.Economist (Jul 13, 2017)
    To call a book a tome is to say that it is a very large book, long in page count. Growing up, it was a while before I could rightly call any book I read a tome , but these days young readers who have completed the Harry Potter series can rightfully say they have read a tome or two. Some of those Harry Potter books were extremely long!
  3. author
    a person who writes professionally
    Although such frantic commercial output led to uneven quality, Cooper sketched career blueprints for ambitious American authors who followed him.Washington Post (Apr 27, 2017)
  4. devour
    enjoy avidly
    A third, set largely in the Louvre, is a breathless thriller readers will devour on a long flight.Seattle Times (Jul 26, 2017)
  5. volume
    a collection of written or printed sheets bound together
    At the time of his death in 1851, at age 62, he was envisioning a volume about the past and future of New York City.Washington Post (Apr 27, 2017)
    Volume is a very old word, dating from the 14th century, when it meant “any roll of parchment containing writing.” The fact that the writing was on a scroll is important to the name, as volume comes from Latin words meaning “that which is rolled” and “to turn around, revolve.”
  6. inspiration
    arousal of the mind to unusual activity or creativity
    He was very clear about the inspiration for the house of his eponymous novel – Rooks Nest, his childhood home.The Guardian (Jul 29, 2017)
  7. book
    an object consisting of a number of pages bound together
    Umar Bukhari, who felt books about his native Pakistan relied on stereotypes, wrote a tale about a Pakistani child who wanted to win a race.New York Times (Jul 30, 2017)
    Over the years a book has come to mean radically different things — a magazine can be called a book, a play script or the collection of the dialogue in a musical play is called a book there are betting books and rule books. If the physical book is in jeopardy from computers and e-books, the word book is not going anywhere, because it is too handy a shorthand for a collection of writings.
  8. amanuensis
    someone skilled in the transcription of speech
    My amanuensis sits at the table, and I sit near him, or lie on the sofa, and dictate the stories which I publish.”Fenn, George Manville
    In the days before dictation software, in fact before software of any kind at all, there was the amanuensis. An amanuensis is someone who writes down everything that is said. Often it is easier for someone not used to being a writer to speak their thoughts aloud. The amanuensis captures this free-flowing speech on the page, so it can then be organized and edited into a finished work.
  9. prologue
    an introduction to a play
    In the prologue to “Romeo and Juliet,” the chorus tells the audience that the tale will unfold within “the two hours’ traffic of our stage.”Los Angeles Times (Jul 7, 2017)
  10. epilogue
    a short passage added at the end of a literary work
    From there the novel veers into an epilogue set many years in the future, following the collapse of Gilead. Salon (Jun 14, 2017)
    Many long stories have epilogues because the reader has been following the characters for so long that they will simply have to know what happens to their favorite characters after the story ends. Epilogues were a tradition in the ancient theater, as the last bit of dialogue spoken — usually it contained a lesson the author wanted to leave their audience with.
  11. enchant
    cast a spell over someone or something
    Religion aside, Wittenberg’s picture-perfect backdrop and upbeat, Renaissance spirit is enough to enchant those without the slightest interest in the Reformer .Washington Post (Jun 22, 2017)

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