Friday, August 13, 2010

The Slippery Slope

by G.M. Malliet

Like most readers and writers of this blog, I LOVE books. Actually, it has become obvious to me as well as to my loved ones that I am addicted to books. If it were possible, I would probably snort books up my nose. I might even attempt some version of bathtub books, knowing it was illegal and the results almost certainly toxic.

What I am talking about here is the need to purchase and own books, especially new books, which is related to but different from the love of reading. People who simply love to read are also sensible sorts who have learned the cost-saving benefits of owning a library card. This is my downfall. I have a library card I seldom use. In fact, I have two, one for a neighboring county. No matter. If I really love a book, or even if I think I might sort of maybe like a particular book (crucial distinction), I have to buy it. 

There are telltale signs of an encroaching book-buying addiction like mine, and as a public service, I thought I would share with you what some of them are, as in one of those “Is he cheating?” articles you see in women's magazines. If any of these scenarios seem familiar to you, you may be in the first stages of a full-blown book addiction:

•    A friend asks if she can borrow your copy of Mentor, a just-released book by Tom Grimes for which you paid full price in hardcover. Intoxicated by that new-book smell, you deny having a copy or knowing anything about the book, or even knowing how to read, even though she can see you happen to be holding the book in your hands.
•    You tell your parents, spouse, or other person who cares where you will be that you are going to the library, when you are in fact again headed to the bookstore, where you will probably buy yet another book(s) you may never get around to reading.
•    Book conventions for you are the equivalent of Ben and Jerry’s for the carbohydrate deprived. You have been known to leave your shoes and heavy clothing behind in your hotel room to make room for the extra books you want to take home on the plane.
•    A box of books arrives from, and you sneak it into the house before anyone can say, “That isn’t another box of books, is it?”
•    You flatten the empties from and hide them in the neighbor’s trash bin.
•    You hide the newly purchased books in your underwear drawer.
•    You've tried to cut your book buying to an average of one a week but find you can't.
•    You pay cash whenever possible at bookstores so as to leave no paper trail.
•    You refer to your local bookstore manager as your book mule.
•    You would seriously consider trading in one of your pets or children for a lifetime B&N membership card.
•    You have installed bookshelves to accommodate your growing book collection, at a cost equal to the GDP of a small nation, rather than donate any more of your precious collection to the library.

Sound like anyone you know?


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I used to have this problem. Trust me, Gin, it can be kicked. Call me if you need a sponsor.

Since I'm an apartment dweller, and move every few years, my problem came to a head when I realized after my last move that I had more boxes of books than I had furniture. I've since come to a compromise. Now, almost every book I buy MUST be donated somewhere after it is read. So far I've stuck to my new book-giving lifestyle pretty well. I also only allow myself 2-3 - yes, only 2-3 - books to come home with me from a conference. That's a toughie, but I manage.

Lisa Bork said...

LOL, Gin.

I'm in the "love of reading" category--couldn't afford to purchase all the books I read, but I do love the smell of a new book :)

Alan Orloff said...

Ha! Great list, Gin. Of course, I shall refuse to let my wife read this blog post (she might not think it's so funny).

Kathleen Ernst said...

For years I lugged cartons of books with every move, telling myself that one day I'd have a big enough house to put them all on shelves. When my husband and I bought our home nine years ago, I reluctantly had to admit that this was it--the biggest home I'd ever have (and it's a smallish ranch, actually). So if any new book comes into the house, another must go out.

Darrell James said...

I think books populate on their own. (Kind of a "preservation of the species" sorta thing.)I've given hundreds and hundreds of books to the library. And yet...

Anonymous said...

Does this also refer to Cozies that include recipes?? Cuz I, personally, feel they should fall under the heading of "cookbooks," which, as we ALL know, isn't REALLY a book, per se. (Like how I rationalize my problem?) Oh dear..."She is too Fond of Books, and it has Addled Her Brain" ~Louisa May Alcott

Anonymous said...

Yeah and anyway~ looking at ALL those book titles? I;m starting to "Jones!" LOL

Mark Baker said...

Phew. I thought you might be talking about me. But I have never done any of the things in your list. I guess my habit of buying three books for every book I read doesn't qualify me.

Now I can stop by Borders tonight on the way home from work without feeling any guilt.

G.M. Malliet said...

protojew62: The cooking cozies definitely qualify as cookbooks (educational reference material) so you're good.

Mark - That ratio of 3-1 may indicate you're nearing the edge.

G.M. Malliet said...

p.s. I think someone is breaking into my house and leaving books behind, because donating tons of books to the library has had no effect in clearing up shelf space.

Barb Goffman said...

Gin, this is hilarious. I know from which you speak. It's gotten so bad that last week I came home with a new book I already own, but of course haven't read. Not the first time I've done that, either.
Barb Goffman

Beth Groundwater said...

Here's another item for your list from my personal experience:

1) When you put your house on the market and the stager says the living room bookcases have to go and the teetering to-read pile by the bed has to be reduced to ONE book, you die quietly inside. Then you box up your living room books and your winter clothes and move them to your second home so you have room in your dresser drawers for those to-read books. Then you pray you sell the house before winter moves in!

Anita said...

I think e-readers should come with a spray bottle labeled "New Book Smell." Best of both worlds.

Keith Raffel said...

Ha! I'm not nearly as bad as you, Gin. I am guilty of only 8 of the items on your list. (Do NOT tell my wife.)

G.M. Malliet said...

Anita - I predict we'll be seeing a lot of compulsive book downloading in the future.

Barb - Yes, the multiple-copies cases are sad, and among the hardest to treat.

Carol Grace said...

"Install bookshelves"?? Sounds like people with this problem need to install a huge addition to their house. I am a library person. I love the smell, the touch and the hushed atmosphere of my public library. I love seeing my books on their shelves and if they're not there I put them there, right between Elizabeth Gilbert and Graham Greene.

Jessie Chandler said...

Gin, this is a great post! I've been banned from bringing books home from the bookstore, the thrift store, garage sales, and even as donations from friends. A part-time job at a bookstore is a double edged sword: you get discounts, which makes your pocketbook happy, and when surrounded by all those new books...well, how can you not take one or three home? This does not make your significant other pleased in the least. Such is the nature of our sad addiction :-)