How to Speak Book | The Ultimate Guide to Book Nerd and Reading Terms

Reading book blogs, spending hours on Goodreads, and hanging out at the library or bookstore…it’s all great fun until someone starts throwing around Book Speak. You know, when a Goodreads reviewer starts dropping three-letter acronyms, “I totally had to say DNF to this ARC and take it off my TBR.” Um…come again? See the handy list of book blogging, book nerd, and reading vocabulary to cut through the jargon and dish about your next favorite book.

ARC – An “Advanced Review Copy,” sometimes called a Digital Review Copy (DRC) for e-book galleys, are copies of books that get released early publishers in hopes that a book reviewer, blogger, librarian, or someone with some kind of literary “influence” will write about it. You can find DRCs on or Edelweiss and win them through Goodreads, or you can email the publisher or author directly. Just one of the many reasons to post your reviews on Goodreads or start a book blog: early access to that Sarah J. Maas Throne of Glass sequel (or dare we dream, the next John Green?).

TBR – Oh, you’ve got a TBR, a “To Be Read” list. Maybe yours is over 50, 100, or even 500 deep by now, a mental note, a written one, or just a huge “to-read” list on Goodreads that seems to be constantly overtaking your “read” record.

living. breathing. reading.
living. breathing. reading.

DNF – This refers to “Did Not Finish,” or a book that you could not finish for whatever reason. Maybe it was 500 pages long, and by page 120 the action hadn’t even started. Or maybe you just weren’t feeling it even though you read to 25%. In any case, you put that book down and marked it as a DNF. For me, a DNF is akin to a “no stars” rating. When a book is truly a “no stars” book, it is almost as bad as a DNF. Not awful enough to warrant even one star. 

GR – “Goodreads.” It’s as simple as that.

HEA – The ultimate goal for a romance, the “Happily Ever After.” The HEA is the implied given for romance across the genres, the type of swoon-worthy final pages like you read in a Stephanie Perkins novel or in the romance genre, where HEAs are almost a requirement for a novel to be a true romance.

Book Boyfriend – A “Book Boyfriend” is a swoon-worthy male protagonist who effortlessly melts your heart with epic professions of love, devotion, attraction, and admiration (I’ve collected some of them in my article about the best romance quotes).

Gus saying some quote that made him the book boyfriend of choice for readers everywhere
Gus saying some quote that made him the book boyfriend of choice for readers everywhere

Augustus Waters of The Fault in Our Stars is considered by some to be the ultimate book boyfriend. Same with Jaime Fraser from Outlander.

The Feels – Oh, “The Feels,” what any writer hopes to provoke and any reader hopes to have…the ugly crying you had when you finished that one book, or the complete book hangover (more on that next) you felt after you turned the last page on Eleanor and Park.

Ugly crying: a symptom of #TheFeels
Ugly crying: a symptom of #TheFeels

The Feels can be not-so-positive, too. For example, if a novel really touched on something close to you and it felt a bit personal, a little too close for comfort. That can also spark The Feels.

Book Hangover – A “Book Hangover” is the ultimate Feels moment. In the Book Hangover, you close a book and feel like you’ve been reborn. You forget that the rest of the world isn’t reading the same book. Hang on, you forget that the rest of the world exists! Hello? Why isn’t society standing still until everyone finishes Heather Demetrios’ “I’ll Meet You There”? You nag all your friends who haven’t read the book, and you have to do all you can to resist the urge to open the book and start over from page 1. You search online for similar books, but the truth is, nothing can compare, so you try out four or five books and can’t get into any of them. This is the Book Hangover. And by the way, here are my suggestions on how to get out of one.

Book Mail – The best mail of all, “Book Mail” refers to getting books in the mail. These could be books you receive as ARCs from publishers. Or they can be sent to you from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other retailers.

Man, that was one epic October day of Book Mail
Man, that was one epic October Tuesday of Book Mail

Book Mail could also be digital, too, such as pre-ordering a new release and having it magically appear in your e-reader library a little after midnight.

Tuesday – Related to Book Mail above, Tuesday is the most common new-release day for books. If you’ve got pre-orders for every week of the month, you can likely rattle off the dates for each Tuesday by memory, too (e.g. The Tuesdays are May 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, and 31st). Tuesday is a glorious day for publishing and for the book world.

Bookface – The “Bookface” or “Book Face” or #Bookface combines book covers with people who look similar or are in costume.

From Central Michigan University, an example of a kick-ass #Bookface...Gandalf lives!
From Central Michigan University, an example of a kick-ass #Bookface…Gandalf lives!

Here’s a really great article about the trend from the New York Times.

Shelfie – Taking a picture of yourself in front of your bookshelves. Hence book shelves + selfies. Yeah it’s a little vain…but books! I geek out about bookshelves, so I’m all for it.

Book Talk – A “Book Talk” is giving a talk on a book or several books you’ve read. You can combine more than one book in your book talk. For example, check out a book talk for one of my classes. My book talk was about YA graphic novels.

Another meaning for “Book Talk” refers to getting a bunch of people together to talk about books you’re reading or have read. This is a little like a book club, but it’s more free form since not everyone will have read the same book. I’ve heard this is a successful book discussion group format for book clubs since there’s less pressure to read the same book.

Are you already aware of these book acronyms and terms? Can you use more than three in a sentence? What would you add? Leave a comment below.

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Welcome to Broke By Books, a blog by Sarah S. Davis, where the guiding mission is to spread a contagious love for reading through helpful, thought provoking, and enjoyable writing about books. Please join me in growing an inspired, engaged, and fearless reading life.

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