It’s books. It’s always books. This photo represents a mere fraction of books I haven’t read yet. The new Bill Bryson just arrived today. I have at least three books going at the same time. Where will I find the time? Is there a job out there that will pay me a good salary plus benefits to just read books?
No? Then I’m forced to admit I have no control over my book-buying habit. I need to start a Books Anonymous group.
We could meet once a week and talk about how our lives are in conflict and chaos because we buy too many books. Our book habit is ruining our relationships, jeopardizing our jobs and our health. We’re losing friends and can only think of the next book that looks too good not to buy.
Wait a minute. That’s silly. If I got a group of book junkies together we’d only talk about books, trade them, lend them, and then repair to our respective homes in search of a cup of tea and comfortable chair.
Are you with me?
How does this sound? Instead of admitting you have no control, I’d like to suggest a few activities that will make you feel good about buying more books than you’ll ever in your lifetime have time to read.
Become obsessed with inventorying your books, or at least the first editions and the autographed ones. This activity will require that you remove each precious book from your shelves, handle it and open it to check the “birthday page” for the holy First Edition insignia and/or the author autograph. Have a glass of sherry to celebrate.
Since you have the book in your hands and haven’t returned it to the shelf, why not start a general inventory. There are even templates in Word and Excel for this very thing. You can carry your obsession to near ecstatic levels. Name of book, author, ISBN number, number of pages, topic, copyright, and, if you’ve read it, some sort of rating. Pause to warm and enjoy a snifter of brandy.
Add a column to track who you might have lent the book to, although I don’t hold with book lending. What if you look for the book on your shelves, can’t find it, realize you loaned it to somebody but forgotten who it was? If you keep an inventory you could check the “Loaned To” column but frankly, if somebody is interested in a book you own, they can go to the library or bookstore. Make that decision and seal it with a tankard of Guinness.
Next, re-shelve the book, but first ask yourself this question: alphabetical by title, or author, arranged by subject or color of book jacket? This an important point to consider as it will affect your ability to find the book. I’m aware that certain designers think arranging books by jacket color is cool, but doing so doesn’t facilitate a quick recovery unless you remember that Mrs. Dalloway is reddish-coral and Yeats is yellow.
You can take a day or weeks to accomplish all this inventorying. Well, actually it will probably take a whole lot longer, because of course you’ll pause frequently to flip through a book, reacquaint yourself with it or ask yourself why you haven’t read it yet.
There is no guilt here, only that rapturous knowledge that you’ll never want for something to read.
So, I think I’ve got it straight. No Books Anonymous. No lending of books. I’ll probably re-shelf by topic. I’ll learn to like stout and finish each day with a Dewar’s. I’ll fall sleep or become numb on the toilet reading one of the books I’ve got going. I’ll allow myself to browse any bookstore that happens to fall in my way.
I may eventually need AA. But never BA.
And by the way, I happily accept gift cards. Amazon. Barnes & Noble or the lovely independent bookstore down the high street. Just sayin’…….