True Confessions of a Bibliomaniac Acrylic on text on canvas, 6" x 6"

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of a bookworm with favorite books    I’ll admit it, I’m a lifelong book addict. I love reading them, but I also love looking at them, touching them, talking about them, hoarding collecting them, & simply enjoying their beautiful & comforting presence all around me.  So when Anu Garg offered “bibliomania” as one of this year’s words for A.Word.A.Day, I was ecstatic. I scanned the definition from one of my collection of vintage dictionaries. (Please don’t ask how many I have– it’s a fraught subject in this household!) It took a little while to figure out how to illustrate the concept in the form of a letter “B,” but when I sketched out a twisted bookworm with a precipitous stack of books, I knew I was on my way.

Here’s where the true confession comes in. (You thought it was the book-hoarding part, didn’t you? But that doesn’t embarrass me in the least!) My real transgression? I illustrated the wrong word!

I painted three of the other words before I started on this one (don’t worry, no spoilers here), & by the time I came to this painting, I somehow focused on another definition from the dictionary page I’d scanned, & got it in my head that I was illustrating “bibliophile.”

I’ve always said that I can’t see the forest for the lichen. I may be meticulous in many ways, but alas, I’m very far from methodical, or I would have had the sense to double-check my word list before plunging ahead. Instead I obsessed for days over choosing the books for the stack & painting all the tiny titles. The worst part is that “bibliophile” is even involved in a sort of puzzle element hidden in the art (that’s a hint), so it’s not just the background that’s off-key….

Painting in progress, work in progress by Leah Palmer Preiss

Ah, well. The whole thing reminds me of a painful anecdote I once read, about a printer carefully proofreading every little town in a highly-detailed map of the Untied States… ;-)

In any case, I hope you can forgive me for getting lost in the dark & disorienting forest that is my brain, & focus with me on the fascinating lichen of teeny tiny thumbnail-sized books!

The open book on the floor is the one that started my own case of bibliomania,  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  I scanned & reduced the “Mouse’s Tale” spread from a beautiful vintage copy given to me long ago by one of my oldest, best & most bibliomaniacal friends. (Yes, you, Natalie!)

As for the books that the bookworm is clutching so fondly, many of Anu’s fans will recognize the titles, though I’ve taken some liberties with the cover designs to fit the old-school style. Thanks & apologies once again to Anu & all of my fellow bibliomaniacal logophiles!

Alice on floor

Update: This image is now available on mugs in my Zazzle shop!

Bibliophile Mug by Leah Palmer Preiss depicting a bookworm with books



5 thoughts on “True Confessions of a Bibliomaniac Acrylic on text on canvas, 6" x 6"

    1. Leah Post author

      Thanks so much, Bill! This particular post was rather painful to write, but the painting part was pure pleasure!

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  2. Michael Hines

    Ah, Leah….getting lost in the forest is part of the payoff, not a reason for forgiveness! From one bibliophilic logophile to another, it’s gratitude you get from fellow readers. My “first book” (a bit less challenging than “Adventures in Wonderland”) was “The Story of Ferdinand” at age 2 years…before I could read but not before I could understand. It was first published the year I was born and my mother read it to me many dozens of times. My slightly younger sister and I share your mania and a deep appreciation of your art, so this note is a brief “Thank You from us both. The adventures continue.

    1. Leah Post author

      Thank you so much Michael, & I love Ferdinand too! There are so many beloved books that I remember from childhood. It’s just that Alice imprinted me for life in a thousand ways. I am definitely one to go down rabbit holes, for one thing! Thanks for reminding me of the benefits that getting lost in the forest can bring– & wishing you & your sister happy bibliomanic adventures wherever they take you!


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