An Unmentioned addiction
May 4, 2022
We are all too familiar with the serious, devastating addictions pervading our society. The one happier addiction hardly ever mentioned is that of the bookaholic. The bookaholic draws little interest as they conduct their addiction behind closed doors unless they sally forth to a Book Club. They might as well say, " Hi, my name is ----and I’m a bookaholic." There are some drawbacks to being a bookaholic. Unless you rely on your library for your "fix’" you can tally up some hefty bills at Barnes and Noble and other book stores. Then there’s the matter of storage. As someone with seven bookcases that are bursting at the seams, I can attest to the fact that storage is a problem. Giving away books is sometimes akin to ripping the skin off your body. A few you can part with happily but others not so much. Then there’s the double dilemma. If you share your books with someone else, then giving them away requires the stamp of approval of not one but two people. For some reason, the two stamps of approval seldom happen."You want to give away THIS book?" Eyes sear through to your soul at the ridiculous, verging on abhorrent request.
How did I acquire this addiction? I hardly know when it happened. As best I can remember, it was about when I learned to read. Possibly, when I was still looking at pictures. I acquired a deep love even for picture books. I always had to have a book at hand. Our main library was too far for me at a young age to go alone. My mother took me every two weeks, but I was long done with my chosen books before the two weeks were up. Eventually, I had to hunt alone. I discovered there was a mobile library about six blocks from my house. Weekly, I would trek alone, braving one street which was terribly busy and boys from another school lying in wait for lambs such as myself. I, however, was intent on books, and nothing was going to deter me. Oh, the agony of choosing just so many books. There was a limit, the number which I can’t recall, but I felt it very unreasonable at the time. I explained kindly, I thought, to the librarian, that I was quite strong and could carry more. She was unmoved by my plea.
When growing up, I was the first in the household to wake, and immediately I would grab my current book and immerse myself. I would tiptoe downstairs and grab a few cookies and back up to my lair on weekends. Oh, the luxury of reading and reading and reading. Every birthday and Christmas, I was given at least one book. I can remember going to bed Christmas night, lovingly looking at my new book. Oh, the mystery to be unwrapped!!! I continue that to this day. Ken and I exchange books. It works wonderfully for us both. Fortunately, most of our reading preferences are the same. So, if I give him five books and he gives me six, we each got eleven books for Christmas! We have implemented the "sharing chair ."As we finish a book, it gets put on the sharing chair to be read by the other addict.
I go nowhere without a book. Doctor visit? You can bet you won’t get in right away, so I pull a book out of my bookbag and proceed to ignore the rest of the waiting room. Going to Havre or Great Falls when I know Ken has building supplies to buy? Take a book. He is always much longer in there than he planned. So, I take along my current addiction. Are you going to Canada? I protect myself from not having a book in two ways. I take along some Big Sandy library books, but I also--drum roll----have a library card in not one but two of the nearest towns! The day after arriving, I go to get groceries, and you guessed it, zip to the library. In Big Sandy, I might have unknowingly picked a book or books I don’t like, or the worst horror is picking one you’ve already read. Book jackets are changed from time to time, and the mistake of picking out a previously read book can happen to the best of us. The brightly colored cover lured me. You grab it. What disgust when you settle in to devour the book only to realize that you know exactly where it is going on the first page. If you are insured, as I am, you will calmly put it down and reach for another. I will not describe what would happen if there was no replacement for the dud. You don’t want to know. Do you buy insurance for your house? Then why not have insurance for your reading? It makes sense to me.
Everyone has their niche addiction. There are the military readers and the how-to book readers. Some only read books that teach them something. There are history buffs (my oldest son is one.) There are autobiography addicts and even cookbook aficionados. My mother would only read books written about quiet English towns in her later years. Finding new books for her was indeed tricky, to put it mildly, but you might be surprised how many books there are in that category!! I became ensnared as a mystery book reader during my Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden days. I am now a dyed-in-the-wool mystery book fan. I have no particular author I love but a few with which I can’t be bothered. I stray into other categories from time to time, but like a true addict, only one kind of book satisfies the addiction.----------------------------------------------------------------Oh-----sorry--had to take a reading break---well, as I was saying---
I do find attending a book club assists me in widening my horizons. I force myself to read books I would normally by-pass. Sometimes I’m glad I have read this new book category and tell myself," Now keep your eyes open for another by this author or subject." However, I am weak. I find myself gravitating back to my old addiction. Not so much the cozy mystery but the blood and gore type with devious plots; those receive my stamp of approval.
They say you can judge a person by what they read. Then why are you also told not to judge a book by its cover? Perfect evidence to support not believing a thing" they" say. So read on, I say, and revel in your addiction!!! Life is short; read what you crave and have that piece of cake too—the end.