Falling Off the Wagon

DidYouEverHaveaFamily_1Book Buyers Anonymous. Or in this case, not-so-anonymous. A new book with a drumbeat of pretty blurbs? Like catnip to the cat, my friends.

Last year I vowed to save my groaning bookshelf (it speaks Spanish — “No mas! No mas!”) and my hollow wallet by using the interlibrary loan privileges at my local library. It’s been working out pretty well, too, even if my drives to work and food markets do not take me past my local library, inconveniently enough.

Then I read something like this:

Fall Fiction and Nonfiction Suggestions

This is cruelty, plain and simple. Do we pour a foamy beer in front of the alcoholic? Walk down Fifth Avenue with a shopaholic? Light up in front of the cold-turkey who quit smoking? No. But I’ve only myself to blame. Did I really have to read those descriptions? Did I really have to open a new window to amazon, where I could read more reviews and blurbs while noticing the special, new-book discount?

Rhetorical questions are a wonderful thing. Until they look like rationalizations. There I was reading all about the horribly-named novel Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg. Really. It sounds like a Dr. Seuss book or something. And yet… and yet… catnip! Snared by the whiskers!

Click. Cart shows 1 item.

Next thing you know I see The Art of Memoir. Me, a guy who can’t resist the siren call of books about books or books about writing books. Mary Karr, yet! An author and poet I admire!

Click. Cart shows 2 items.

And just like that, my resolution lies a beaten vow on the floor. Pulverized. Bleeding through the hardwood cracks. Forgive me, Father, for I have bought. For these and all my sins, I am heartily sorry.

Until tomorrow when my new books arrive…

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12 thoughts on “Falling Off the Wagon

  1. Heeheeeee, I am guilty also. I have three, yes three books on pre-order. Ah the sins of friends. Mine will be delivered electronically to the reading device. One comes tomorrow , after midnight. Then two more in October, I think, Jonh Banville, Jane Smiley, and David Michell. That does not account for the trap at Bookbub, where books can be had for under 5.00. Must tie my hands, and blindfold me when the Sirens of Amazon call.

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  2. Ooh. A multi-sourced addict! Worse than me. And please don’t mention “David Mitchell” and “new” in the same sentence. I’ve enjoyed four of his already and might just… no. Nope. Not gonna do it. Um. Really. I mean it, people! (I think….)

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  3. And that’s why, I’m abstaining myself from ever looking into Amazon. Those fancy books will need to wait in line in my note entitled Books to Read. It’s a good thing! Now I need to get around reading those books I have been skipping on my rack.

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  4. In AA we can’t bust anyone’s anonymity except our own, privately. Tis not true, NewEngland, that “we [do not] pour a foamy beer in front of the alcoholic?” It happens everyday. One tiny example: When was the last time you went to a wedding that didn’t have a champagne toast? However, it is 100% possible to not drink … one day at a time. I’m sure I would not want to live a life 100% free of books.

    I too suffer from book abuse. I’ve purchased a low priced ebook almost every day this month. Yesterday Audible sent me a list of 234 books at the “special” price of $4.95 each. I went through and clicked on – well I’m not sure, perhaps a dozen – and added them to the cart. However, I didn’t then buy them. They are sitting there. In a couple days I’ll go back and weed. My goal is to get them down to two.

    Why do I call it book abuse rather than an addiction? Most addictions are directly harmful to heath, mine and that of other people. Only by a significant stretch of the imagination can one make buying books into an addiction. I buy too many books. I don’t buy food for myself, my spouse and my children. They get scurvy, rickets, and other diseases of malnourishment and die. I get recycled in the next life as a bookworm.

    Now that I’ve gone picky on your lighthearted reflection on buying too many books, I totally agree that it is a budget busting habit for which there is an excellent solution: my public library. Ah, well.

    Jon

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    • You’re right on a few counts. I am playing fast and loose with the word “addiction.” I use it to describe people’s cellphone use, too. Probably wrong on that count as well. But the point is well taken. Alcoholics can’t and shouldn’t hide from the drinking world. They need to live beside it — one day at a time. As for living 100% free of book BUYING? Could be done, I’ll wager. Wouldn’t be much fun, though. And, as you say, is nothing compared to real addictions. Thanks for reading!

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  5. My name is Doug and I am an inkaholic.
    But let me leave you with this stabbing pain in your cheek if you do not carry a bifold or a purse; the library has regular sales of must catchers for a buck or two.
    We enable each other but if I can not get my inkahol on paper, I will. even pour it from a Goodreads bloggle.

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    • If it’s economics we’re talking, I guess this is where I should mention my phone plan, which is cheaper than anyone else’s in the land. It’s called “Don’t Own a Cellphone.”

      Dirt, meet cheap.

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