GREENWOOD, IN—Sitting in a quiet downtown diner, local hospital administrator Philip Meyer looks as normal and well-adjusted as can be. Yet, there's more to this 27-year-old than first meets the eye: Meyer has recently finished reading a book.
Yes, the whole thing.
"It was great," said the peculiar Indiana native, who, despite owning a television set and having an active social life, read every single page of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. "Especially the way things came together for Scout in the end. Very good."
Meyer, who never once jumped ahead to see what would happen and avoided skimming large passages of text in search of pictures, first began his oddball feat a week ago. Three days later, the eccentric Midwesterner was still at it, completing chapter after chapter, seemingly of his own free will.
"The whole thing was really engrossing," said Meyer, referring not to a movie, video game, or competitive sports match, but rather a full-length, 288-page novel filled entirely with words. "There were days when I had a hard time putting it down."
Even more bizarre, Meyer is believed to have done most of his reading during his spare time—time when the outwardly healthy and stable resident could have literally been doing anything else, be it aimlessly surfing the Internet, taking a nap, or simply just staring at his bedroom wall.
"It'd be nice to read it again at some point," Meyer continued, as if that were a perfectly natural thing to say.
While it's difficult to imagine what compelled Meyer to read more than just the back cover of To Kill a Mockingbird, friends and family members claim the strange behavior goes all the way back to his childhood.
"I remember when Phil was a little kid, instead of picking up a book, getting bored, and then throwing it at his sister, he'd actually sit down and read the whole thing," said mother Susan Meyer, who declared she has long given up trying to explain her son's unusual hobby. "At the time, we thought it was just a phase he was going through. I guess we were wrong."
Over the years, Meyer has read dozens of books from beginning to end, regardless of whether he was forced to do so by a professor in school or whether a film version of the reading material already existed. According to girlfriend Jessica Kohler, he even uses a special cardboard marking device so that he can keep track of where he has stopped reading and later return to that exact same place.
"I used to find Phil's reading kind of charming because I had never really met anyone who read outside of a waiting room," Kohler said. "But more and more, it just feels odd, you know? He can't even go to the beach without bringing one of his books along."
According to behavioral psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Schulz, Meyer's reading of entire books is abnormal and may be indicative of a more serious obsession with reading.
"Instead of just zoning out during a bus ride or spending hour after hour watching YouTube videos at night, Mr. Meyer, unlike most healthy males, looks to books for gratification," Schulz said. "Really, it's a classic case of deviant behavior."
"At least, that's what it seems like from what little I've skimmed on the topic," she added.
As bizarre as it may seem, Meyer isn't alone. Once a month, he and several other Greenwood residents reportedly gather at night not only to read books all the way through, but also to discuss them at length.
"I don't know, it's like this weird 'book club' they're all a part of," said Brian Cummings, a longtime coworker and friend of Meyer's. "Seriously, what a bunch of freaks."