Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pride & Shame, or Binging & Purging Without an Eating Disorder, or At Least It's Not Crystal Meth

9:45 p.m. / 21:45

It is a point of pride and a point of shame for me that I work in a library and spend quite a little bit of my money buying books. I feel like I've curbed the habit some in the past two and a half years, but it's hard to say for sure. I'm a little less likely to buy one book almost weekly, or at least every other week, which I think I was close to doing at one point, but I'm more likely to binge and buy a whole stack of books. Tonight was a binge night. As most of me was picking out books, part of me was observing and taking mental notes. It's really a shame I didn't have Itty Bitty, my netbook, or I would have told my story from the bookstore cafe while my observations were fresh.

I'll spare you the story of what brought me to the bookstore in the first place and move straight to the part where I knew I was going to buy at least one book because I wanted something to look at while I enjoyed desert in the cafe without being concerned about spills and whatnot. I hadn't brought a book, my journal or my netbook because this was a somewhat spur of the moment trip to the bookstore to get desert by myself. So, I went up to the fiction section before going to the cafe.

I began a series of mental searches through stored biblio-information to try and determine what book I could buy with the least guilt; what made the most sense long-term. I eventually settled on Any Place I Hang My Hat by Susan Isaacs because I'm reading Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner and Jennifer Weiner is a fan of Susan Isaacs. I decided it was a pretty safe bet to buy a book by an author that an author I'm a fan of is a fan of. Did you follow that? If not, it was totally my fault. Anyway, I used logic, or what passes for logic in my brain, to choose the book and was feeling pretty good about it. Then I turned down the science fiction / fantasy aisle.

For some reason, this was the point where I got a little crazy. This was the point when the kid-in-a-candy-store feeling became overwhelming. This was were my brain started chanting BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS, like Garfield chanting CANDY, CANDY, CANDY in his Halloween special. Books are so pretty with all their colorful covers drawing you in making you just certain they contain wonderful, unforgeable stories. I actually felt kind of buzzed, or electrified. I had to have more books! I decided I'd get one from each part of the fiction section of the store. I had one from the general fiction, so I set about selecting Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers, The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie King and Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas. Two were mysteries, though so I found enough sense to cut one of them from the stack. I put back The Beekeeper's Apprentice because it was more expensive than Whose Body?.

By the time I paid for the final four books and was reading the first page of each one in the cafe while I enjoyed my blondie and iced chai latte, good sense was returning and I felt kind of guilty, but I HAD BOOKS!! They are sitting on my desk while I write this. I want to start reading each one of them right now, but that's totally unrealistic. Four books is too many to read at one time. Who knows if I'll even start one of them this week. But they're sitting there looking almost as good and delicious as that blondie I ate.

In a few days, I might be walking past my bookshelf and see a book and wonder why I've hung on to it for so long and move it to the box of books I'll give friends at Christmas or list it on Bookmooch. It's only a matter of time before I sit down in front of the shelves and pick out a whole stack to purge from the collection. At the library, it's called weeding. I don't know if it's a habit I learned from working there or an inevitable result of my continued book buying habit. Yes, it's a habit, the buying binges, the purging... possibly it's not the most financially sound habit, but hey, at least it's legal and fairly healthy. Healthy... that reminds me I still have ice cream in the freezer.


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