I used to be a book slut

16 Aug

When Steve and I first got married 16 years ago, we moved to this quaint little mountain town. It’s in the middle of nowhere and full of scientists and other educated people who hang out with scientists. Are there people who willingly hang out with scientists? Must be, because I’m here. I’m a writer.

Cerebral pursuits are popular up here. Our library has a “Friends of the Library” store where they sell books people have donated. Our first summer here, we went to the store almost every weekend. I was in my Tom Clancy/John Grisham phase (it was the mid-90s, after all) and I greedily snatched up every hardback of theirs that I found. Steve was a little more discerning, opting for the classics. He would also pick up the occasional Asimov or some such author.

We had books. Scads of books. Which, under normal circumstances, wouldn’t be a problem, but we moved 10 times in our first 3 years of marriage, back and forth between our quaint little mountain town and grad school 800 miles away. Steve would work out here for a few months every summer, then we would go back to Texas A&M for the school year. We accumulated books like crazy, but then we had to deal with moving them. And what was worse, we lived in tiny little places with barely enough room for the two of us.

At one duplex, we actually kept our books outside. We bought probably 20 of those big blue Rubbermaid storage containers and filled them with books. Since it was a humid climate down in south Texas back then (unlike now with the bone-dry drought conditions), we duct taped the lids shut and then covered the whole stack with tarps. I guess it worked pretty well because I don’t remember any bug and/or mold problems with any of my Grishams.

But there comes a time when practicality sets in. One day as I was dusting our thousands of tomes, I realized that I hadn’t re-read a single Clancy. The Grishams were sitting there, all in a pretty hardback row, also gathering dust. I remembered the stories and the details that amused or intrigued me, but I didn’t have the desire to read any of them again. It was in that moment that I realized I was a book hoarder. I just wanted the books to be on the shelf and look pretty after I read them once (if that). It was also in that moment that I realized I could donate the books back to the bookstore and get a nice tax write off for the donation. So I pulled the beautiful but untouched books off my shelves, boxed them up, and sent them away.

Now I’m more prudent about what I buy. I check out lots of books, but rarely buy them. Granted, I bought a book just today, but I didn’t mean to. It’s Sticky Readers: How To Attract a Loyal Blog Audience by Writing More Better. I was probably going to buy it anyway, but I accidentally clicked on the “1-click ordering” button on Amazon instead of the “put it in the basket” button, so I downloaded it to my Kindle reader on my Droid X.

I think it’s because of my few years as a book hoarder that I shy away from buying books. If I’m going to read a book multiple times, I’ll buy it. I might even pay full price for it. But if it’s just a quickie read, I’ll borrow it. Those last three sentences make me sound like a book serial monogamist. Hmm. That’s something for me to ponder.

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2 Responses to “I used to be a book slut”

  1. Terry August 16, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    Story sounds all too familiar. Three-quarters of our shipping loads when moving, since married twenty years ago, has been books. And I really did not start reading until I got to college. I started pruning those moving loads once we moved up here to LA. I usually only buy what I want to keep and read again but lately I am pruning out a lot of books. My treasures on Earth are becoming more of a burden and restricting my freedom as I get older.

    BTW, it might sound “nicer” if you were a “book-ho” while still carrying the same funny/serious meaning. 🙂 LOL.

  2. Sandra August 17, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    Well you picked a terrific book to accidentally buy, you book serial monogamist, you!

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