I have a vice, something I am addicted to and can’t quit no matter how much I try. I find myself sneaking away from the kids to do it. I do it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I sometimes hide under my bed covers to do it. I do it waiting in car line and at the pool. I do it outside on the back porch and in the driveway while my kids play. I’ve done it in front of my parents, my husband, and my pastor. I stash it in my purse in case I find opportunity. I visit multiple websites to get my next hit. I visit one of my favorite suppliers a minimum of every two weeks to refresh my stash. I have researched and located places where I can get it cheap or for free. I’ve even managed to get one of my children hooked and the other one looks like he might follow in my footsteps as well. I have a real problem and, when I’ve admitted it to friends and family, some of them have become enablers!
I’m addicted to books. I love them! I love the information they hold, the stories they tell, the emotions they elicit. I like being transported to other countries, other worlds, other times. I get to see what other people’s lives are like all over the globe. I learn about things I’ve never studied or experienced.
If I bought every book I have ever wanted to read, I would have a home filled with books and no money for food. As such I have found multiple ways to feed my habit without going broke. Libraries are obviously the best source as they are constantly adding to their collection. They offer e-books in addition to physical books (and ours offers puzzles too!) so I can check out and read books without having to leave my house. Amazon sometimes has free e-books. I borrow books from fellow bibliophiles (and lend them as well). I receive emails from Bookbub offering free and reduced-price e-books. NetGalley offers free e-books in exchange for feedback to the publisher.
Three years ago I discovered book launch teams. That was a wonderful and time-consuming discovery. I have loved getting sneak peeks at some of my favorite authors’ newest offerings and being able to share them with other book lovers.
Our local community has an annual book swap where I can drop off my old books and come back and pick up new-to-me books for free. We have a 2nd and Charles store that offers store credit (or cash, but I always take the credit because it is almost double the cash option) when you bring in o ld books and media. They also have a few “free” bins and I have found some books on my “to-read” list in them. Then there are thrift stores and yard sales.
There are so many places to hear about great books, too. I started listening to podcasts a few years ago and the ones I listen to often give at least one book recommendation per episode (The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, For the Love with Jen Hatmaker). I discovered Modern Mrs. Darcy and her podcast (What Should I Read Next) which is a fount of book wisdom and suggestions, including the occasional reading challenge (I love challenges!). I am part of a FB group called For the Love of Books where we discuss favorite ones and help others steer clear of average or disappointing reads. I have a Goodreads account that lets me see what others are reading and read readers’ reviews of ones I am considering. Instagram has numerous book lovers and book accounts (I recently started my own @meganbyrdreads) for more suggestions.
Having so much information and outlets available really add to the struggle. I have nearly two shelves on my bookshelf of physical books I want to read. I have at least 20 unread books on my kindle. It’s a serious problem.
I keep trying to set boundaries so that I can tackle the books I already own and decide whether to keep them or let them go (I’d like to only hold on to the ones I want to reference, reread, or share with friends or my kids when they get older). I have tried to tell myself not to purchase any new books, which is hard but doable, except that my birthday occurred recently and books were the only things I really wanted. I did hold myself back and only put six on my list, so that’s something I suppose.
I have tried to keep myself from joining new launch teams. Staying off of social media can help me stay unaware of these opportunities. I want to be more prudent and only apply if the book seems applicable to my present life circumstances or are from an author I already know.
I should also stop perusing the library’s website, delete Bookbub emails, and stay off of Netgalley. I have tried to be satisfied with adding intriguing books to my “to-read” list on Goodreads to reference later. It helps a little but it currently has close to 200 books on it so it’s not really a solution, more like a dam on the verge of bursting.
I am tempted to feel ashamed or embarrassed about my apparent lack of control when it comes to books but then I will read something like the quotes below and feel that, perhaps, it’s okay to want to learn more.
“Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary . . . An antilibrary is a powerful reminder of your limitations – the vast quantity of things you don’t know, half know, or will one day realize you’re wrong about.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“The books we buy are almost as important as those we read. If the books we read reflect the person we are, the books we hope to read might just be who we aspire to be. There is something profound in that.” –Jess Walter
Books have helped me find community and encourage others by sharing the things I learn from what I read. I am also able to offer good recommendations to others who want an engaging read or a good book on a particular subject. So, while I should be careful I don’t substitute reading for actual engagement in my life and with the people around me, perhaps my love of books isn’t all that bad.
What is your relationship with books like? Where do you find good book recommendations? What has been your favorite book so far this year?