Allow me to set the stage:
A used book sale. Bins of overflowing paperbacks crowd between stacks of hardcovers. Each costs only one dollar.
Me (brandishing a hefty volume with difficulty; arm shaking): Look, it's Schneffenborg's "The Imperial Science of Philosophy and Thought Among Primitive Agrarian Societies in the Arctic"! I'll totally read this!"
Let me be clear, readers. I will never, ever read this.
But I have no willpower when it comes to books! If it comes packaged between a cover, I'll buy it, especially if-- even worse!-- it has a faded, shaky signature inside the front cover with-- the horror!-- an interesting, vintage-sounding date like '47.
Because of this terrible habit, I owned a huge, towering bookshelf specifically for books I planned on reading. It had it all: Tolkien's The Silmarillion, a four-volume collection on philosophy, the complete works of Sophocles, the biography of Stephen Crane. I have no idea who Stephen Crane is, nor why I felt compelled to buy his biography.
This habit extends to the library, too. For example, today I was strolling through the nonfiction section, my bag bursting with books, in-- let me stress-- absolutely no position to get any more books! But the darn thing just fell into my hands, and I checked out Julius Caesar's commentary on the Gallic Wars.
|I will never read this. |
(By Adriaen Collaert (The British Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Finally, last week, I surveyed the feeble amount I had read and the towering inferno left to go and conceded defeat. I packaged up those books and returned them to their demesne, the used bookstore. I think they were glad to leave me. I wasn't a very good owner.
But in exchange for two laundry baskets full of books, the cashier gave me a generous gift card to the used book store! So getting rid of books is going to result in me getting more books!
I mused on my injured feelings for a while and summed up this situation in the following poem:
Ode to the Used Book,
by Allison Ruvidich
O, Book! We are old companions, you and I.
For years you have waited patiently on the shelf,
Dull cover, painful blurb,
And for years I have passed you by.
Once in a blue moon, I’ll picked through your pages,
Old but untouched, smelling faintly of dust.
For years and years, your bland yellow price tag deterred me.
But today you’re on sale.
No offense, Book, but I’m sure you’re not any good,
Though your spine is a familiar sight to my wandering eye.
Maybe we’ll pass in a library someday, and our eyes will meet,
And then, O Book! We shall be thriftily united! But no—
It’s not you, it’s me; it would never work out; I don’t want to hurt you.
I’ll just look at the price.
O, Book! You pain me, though for once your price does not.
If I bought you, what would happen once you’re read,
And your secrets no longer tempt me?
I can’t invest ¾ inch of shelf space in someone I don’t know.
Someday Robin McKinley will be caught dead in a used bookstore,
And I’ll need your precious ¾ inch again.
Then the cycle continues, and you’ll sit on the shelf
Of some other used bookstore until another girl comes along.
She’ll tell you she loves you until her Robin McKinley comes, and you’re back—
On and on until someone far stronger than I
Puts you in the Goodwill donation box.
So you see, Book, there’s nothing for us but pain.
I’d be far better off leaving you here where you’re happy.
I’m a terrible person to put us both through this,
But today you’re only one dollar, and you’re coming with me.
Does anyone else have this problem? I can't believe I'm the only one out there suffering from Compulsive Book Purchaser's Syndrome. Are there any methods to avoid this grievous fate? How big is your to-read shelf?