Telling stories

How to deal with an addiction

Posted by southwrite on December 21, 2009

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Recently I’ve been going through a crisis that has shaken me to my very depth of my being, kept me up at night, and filled me with dread.

You see, I have an addiction and, just as in the famous first step of AA, I have come to realize that I’m powerless in the face of it. My addiction is to books. Stepping into a Borders and even surfing onto, I lose control. Looking at all those stout hard covers or shiny paperbacks, I know that I have to have them.

Yes, it’s sad and hard to admit publically just what a slave I have become to street corner pushers with names like Random House, HarperCollins or that crafty and seductive Penguin.

Once I started buying books it became clear to everyone except me that I had truly fallen victim to a force much greater than me. Books filled my shelves only to be pushed back to make room for another row. When the boards groaned under the weight, I started hiding – I mean storing – them in closets. They stacked up on my nightstand and I couldn’t get to sleep each night without a reading fix.

Soon I began getting disapproving looks from my partner. She asked questions such as:

• “Are you really going to read all of them?”
• “I suppose the 11 foot ceilings will limit the size of your stack.”
• “Don’t you already have a copy of that one?”
• “Do you know how many books you actually have?’

I had never counted them since I feared the number might exceed the local library’s collection. It was also hard to admit that I loved the books themselves as much as the words and ideas they contained.

One day I told her we needed more bookcases. She said: “I don’t think we need more bookcases. I think you need fewer books.”

She just didn’t understand. She couldn’t feel the pleasure of holding a sleek new volume in your hands and finding a new place for it…somewhere.

Finally, I looked around one day and realized that my books had almost maxed out my living space. There was no unused space in my office and the living room bookcases no longer looked so grand now crammed tight with books. To open a cabinet door I had to move a stack and then move it back to get to another one. Their spines stared at me mockingly and I thought I heard a small voice say: “You belong to us.”

They were everywhere and I had to admit as much as I loved them it might be time to give up at least some of them.

Taking a deep breath I began pulling first one and then another from the shelves or cabinets or the floor on which they rested. Unread novels went first. Books on military history were followed by a small collection of “the horror of the Bush Administration” classics.

I began donating them to charity and selling them on Amazon – taking advantage of someone else’s lack of self control no doubt.

The size of my collection is now diminished. They still number in the high hundreds, but I’ve gotten to a point where my office and living space doesn’t appear to be totally dominated by them. And, I no longer seem quite so much like that old lady with too many cats.

One Response to “How to deal with an addiction”

  1. Jackie H. said

    I think being addicted to buying books is a “healthy” addiction…but then again, I know I am a fellow addict:0

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