I sometimes imagine that buying books for me is a bit like what heroin is like for a recovering addict. I know I don’t need any more. Really, I have enough to last me most of my life at my current rate of reading and besides, there really is no more room in the house. I really shouldn’t get another hit — it’s almost certainly not good for me but it feels so good. It’s not even the reading of the books — too often I get the same letdown I’m sure an addict feels at the end of his high. Is that all there is? Well, if that’s all there is my friend, let’s keep dancing…
Okay, so my reading habit isn’t likely to lead to a life of crime though books are the only thing I ever did steal— during a brief desperate period as an young teen but that’s another story — nor is it likely to actually kill me unless a book shelf falls over and crushes me beneath the weight of too many brick-like volumes. Not impossible but unlikely. I still have reasonable reflexes.
At Christmas, I always tell people not to buy me books unless it is from the list I provide. Some people do anyway and I dutifully put them on my shelf for a year or so out of respect, knowing that I am unlikely to ever read it. Hell, I have books I bought myself that I haven’t gotten around to reading even after five years!
There’s the rub — try as I might I still buy more books in a year than I can possibly find time to read (maybe after I retire… yeah, no). I’ve tried every trick in the book (that reminds me — I need to get a new book of tricks). Only buy a book when you finish one; don’t buy any books at all for a month; only buy a book when you’ve given one away. It never works.
Oh, I can go a few weeks — even five or six without feeding my habit, but then I get the itch. A craving. Just to try something a little different. I heard there was this one book that provides an incredible high — the pacing is fast, the language beautiful, the story innovative and strange, whatever…. It can’t hurt to give it a little try, can it?
So I go to the store or on-line with the intention of buying just that one book. But there’s this other one that looks fascinating and, OMG, my favorite (one of thirty) author has a new book and it’s on sale. And I should see what’s in my wish list and if I buy two or three I get free shipping.
See, just like heroin. I was only going to buy books this year that I could afford from my gift cards. That would have been about 7. So how did I wind up with 14?
But that’s ten minutes.