It happens every Sunday; I take a lazy afternoon walk to the Goodwill store down the street to see what they have in their book department, and I spend an hour or so poking through them, mulling, considering, and finally deciding.
By deciding I mean I stand there with an arm full of books and wheedle them down to two or three. I flip through them again and again, trying to choose the ones to leave behind. This is never easy; today I left behind East of Eden, The Poisonwood Bible, and An Elmore Leonard novel called Stick. I even abandoned a Frank McCourt book called Teacher Man. Why, you may ask? Why not just get ‘em all? They're all discounted.
It’s my shelf at home; still full of books, some read, some not. Some half-read. They are jilted lovers. Yes, guilt assails even book readers.
Of course reading an Elmore Leonard novel sounds exciting, but what about that Karen Blixen novel still left unread? It was a Pulitzer winner for crying out loud! And Empire Falls? Richard Russo also won a Pulitzer for that. All wonderfully well-written books, waiting to love me and entertain me.
And you’d besmirch their good names by cheating on them, getting more books to read, new and sexy books, when you haven’t finished the ones you already have? For shame, my brain yammers.
But this is book love. Freakish book love. Dare I say, freakish book love/hoarding.
And don’t talk to me about ‘getting rid’ of books. I’ve tried that, and I end up parting with one, maybe two books, mostly Dan Brown novels or anything by John Grisham. The Steinbecks and the Fitzgeralds have been cemented in place. I tried moving them once and broke three fingers.
The truth is, I like books. Shelves full of them. Hell, I’d fill an entire ROOM with them if I could, but I only have an apartment with limited space and a minimalist roomie who shuns clutter (practiced in the art of Feng Shui) so I have to be conservative. And forget libraries; every time I take books out (Like ‘Catch 22’) I never bring them back. I get too attached. How could I take that book back after all we’ve been through? We went to bed together! Let someone else’s hands touch your pages? I’d rather die (Somewhere, a retired Librarian is still seething about that copy of Cannery Row that I never returned in 1993).
As for e-Readers, I understand thousands of books can be stored in one. That’s wonderful. Marvelous. But Curling up in bed with a hard piece of plastic ain’t my idea of comfortable. I love the soft squish of paper, the physical turning of a page, the smell of old ink and pulp. Even NEW ink and pulp.
I’m not a backwards Grinch, I do have an e-Reader. I am not anti-tech. I take it to work with me, on the bus, the doctor’s office. A lot of places. I even turn it on occasionally.
The funny thing is, I keep downloading new books without finishing the ones already on there, the jilted ones.
Guilt assails even an e-Reader reader.