Book Addicts Anonymous

Hi, my name is Alma, and I’m addicted to reading and to books. And there is a slight difference, although you’d never know it from my shelves (and desk, and floor, and closet, and my parents’ house.) All flat surfaces not required for perambulation or emergency egress are covered with books. The shelves are double-stacked, triple in some places, and I think the cover on my Kindle is starting to bulge from all the files. But I can stop any time, really.

My parents started it. Sib and I would whine for toys and get books instead. We’d whine for books and get two. There’s a saying that if you reward a behavior you get more of it – my parents did not seem to see that as a bad thing, although for a while we had a one-bought-book-per-week limit. Librarians hid when we came in, because all they could see were the piles of books tottering under their own power toward the check-out desk. The flash-clunk of the old check-out machine was music to my little ears. Especially once my parents turned me loose in the adult section. Granted, there were some things that looking back I wish they’d kept me from reading, because I was too young to be exposed to that stuff.

I read anything and everything except YA romances, adult romances, and political thrillers. And biography never did much for me, oddly enough. But I read lots and lots of military history, and classic sci-fi. Paradise was the reading chair in the front room, a plate of soft chocolate chip cookies, and a good book, or any book. I did have a social life of sorts, centered on worship and the nerd-pack at school. But I preferred books. Books didn’t throw rock-filed snowballs at me.

While in college I collected more books. Something about an unchaperoned reader turned loose in a major metropolitan area . . . Yeah. And over the years the collection grew, and grew. I read about 90% of what followed me home, and nibbled on the remaining volumes. Some are art books, others photo books that were on deep discount, or (now) books in languages I can’t read but that I can use for reference. (It’s amazing what you can puzzle out if you have a bit of basic knowledge of the history and people of the time and area.)

And then I found books overseas. Books on topics I can’t find material on back in the States. Merovingian Germany? Check. The Nibelungenlied in the original and Middle-high-German parallel? Got it. Matias Corvinus’s library? Top shelf beside one on medieval Hungarian fortifications and the history of the dirndl. I started packing with a book allowance in mind. People come into my office, start browsing, and boggle. Um, yeah, I have Antonia Frazier’s histories next to fat tomes about the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of the English speaking peoples and US history and German-language biographies of great Renaissance women of Austria and Saxony. And a guide to early Christian archaeological sites in southern Austria.

But I can quit any . . . ooh, look! The sci-fi used-bookstore is having a sale! Gotta go.

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7 thoughts on “Book Addicts Anonymous

  1. Yes, that all sounds very familiar. Even the rocks in snow balls.

    Books, if piled correctly, can do double duty as furniture that was removed to make room for them.

    I gave my entire collection to my son at one point. I couldn’t move them and had no place to move them too.
    Now I just do ebooks, mostly. My dead tree collection would fit in half a dozen liquor boxes.

    • I’m at the hybrid habit stage. When the e-book is $45 and I can get the print version used for $5, and I need it for work (really. It’s not an excuse, it’s a justification.) then the print version it is. Books+boards= grad school book shelves FTW.

      • Yes, I end up buying some, mostly non-fic.

        I had plenty of bookshelves of every description. The problem was, one by one, couches and chairs were sacrificed. Being a fair carpenter, I didn’t necessarily need wall space. It was a maze.

        • I do make certain that the emergency egress routes and access to the intruder repellents are clear at all times. Otherwise . . .

  2. Ah, you must be that sister I never had! I TRY to keep my books in one place, but . . . Anything printed is fair game. I’ve even read some of my wife’s romances — at least the first couple of chapters. If you ever need some information on 20th Century military matters, I’m your villain — er, source.

    With a dying computer, I don’t get to comment as often as I wish. ALWAYS enjoy what you write — here or in your stories.

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