Archive for February, 2010
I have a problem.
The problem itself is not new, nor is it news to anyone who knows me. What is new is my quest to determine what it is that compels me to buy books.
Here’s how the quest began:
The other day I was reading an article about Habitat for Humanity and a coffee shop/used book store they have in Charlotte. Really cool idea, sell used books and use the proceeds to benefit Habitat for Humanity. You can learn more here.
I am a big fan of books and a big fan of people owning their own home so I thought I would check it out. Immediately I was stuck with the thought that the last thing I need is more books. Last time I counted I was up over 750 and my best guess is that I haven’t read 20% of them. Maybe 10% in case my smokin’ hot wife (SHW) reads this post. So I thought of the next best thing I could do: donate some books.
That’s when I discovered I have a problem.
As I looked at the stacks, trying to find five or ten I could donate, I became anxious. Not specific anxious like you get when your phone rings and the caller id shows the name of a person you don’t want to talk to or when your car slips on icy patch of road. Rather it was this weird general anxiety I imagine people get when they think the sky is falling. An internal dialog ensued which I will not recount word for word because it’s embarrassing. Suffice it to say as I listened to myself respond to myself I sounded a lot like the people on the A&E show Hoarders.
If you have not seen the show, it is about, well, hoarders, and the people who love and live with hoarders and the people who are trying to help them get better. It’s tragic and depressing and at times hysterically funny in an admittedly schadenfreudey kind of way. Watch one episode and one of the things that you’ll notice is that generally hoarders have reasons for holding on to every little thing and no matter how bizarre those reasons seem to everybody else, they are perfectly reasonable to the hoarder. What really freaked me out was that the reasons I was giving myself for why I could not part with a copy of The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine (that I have not read and probably will never read) sounded a lot like the responses of a hoarder trying to justify why he needed to keep twenty-seven Ziploc bags of rubber bands instead of just twenty-four.
So what it is with the books? I read so much, so fast that little really sinks in. Reading cuts into sleep I need in order to keep up with the kids. The clutter is comforting to me but drives my SHW crazy. Dusting is a nightmare. The “furious ardor of my zeal” for solid wood, mismatched, antique book cases is embarrassing. Not to mention the drain on family finances.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I never pay full price but when Borders sends me an exclusive reward offer for 33% off any one item, my palms start to sweat. I have one sitting in my inbox now that expires tomorrow and I know I am going to use it. I am fully aware that they know that 95% of the time they send me a coupon I end up using it, so they just keep sending them and I keep buying.
If anybody as any thoughts with regards to this compulsion of mine, I would love to hear them. I will continue the embarrassing internal dialog and if I discover anything blog worthy, I will endeavor to post.