Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Managing One's Addiction


I have 25 library books checked out, 4 of which are overdue and can't be renewed.

I have 21 books on reserve.

32 books are sitting on my desk begging to be read.

School Library Journal is expecting a review of yet another book.

AND I have an entire notebook full of Must Read books that I may actually get to before 2010.

How do folks manage this? At work, I use my two 15-minute breaks and my half-hour lunch for reading. At home, I start reading as soon after 8 pm as I can and continue until 9:30 pm (but those pesky family members do insist on some mom/wife interaction from me once in a while). I spend as much of the weekend as possible curled around a book.

But it's not enough time!!

Shannon Hale, in her blog Squeetus, has a post about "good" books and "bad" books. What exactly, she asks, makes one book respectable literary fiction and another book trash?

To me, the only worthwhile categories of books are: the books I want to read and the books I don't want to read. However, the books I want to read seem to encompass so many categories (all great children's and YA fiction; adult fantasies; adult mysteries; adult fiction by my favorite authors; adult fiction that gets great reviews) that things are seriously getting out of control. Should I rein in my reading addiction? Should I try to be a tad more selective??

While I would never call my beloved fantasy novels "trash," they certainly are not widely respected. The cover art alone (castles; strange creatures; gorgeous flowing-locked men and women standing in heroic poses) puts many folks off their feed. The length of these books, plus that fact that some of them have such similar plots and appearance that I occasionally can't remember if I've read a particular book before until I'm a good 30 pages into it, make them real time-eaters - and I feel so guilty reading them when my shelves are so heavy with "worthier" books. But I looooooove them!

My 17-year-old daughter, who has a sharp eye these days for the many imperfections and injustices in the world and most particularly in her family members, asked me rather pointedly if I ever read any classics; she had just discovered that I never read Uncle Tom's Cabin. Well, sure, I've read lots - but let's face it, the ones I haven't yet read will keep. Meanwhile, it's almost 2009 and I haven't even finished the books on my 2007 to-read list. Yeep!

And children's and YA books - aside from the fact that I'm a children's librarian, it would be impossible for me to keep away from my very favorite literature. This is the stuff that got me through a outwardly wonderful but inwardly fraught childhood. This is the stuff I thrive on. Gotta read them! But I want to read so many adult books as well, which take so darn long, and then I feel guilty for neglecting the juvy stuff (not to mention that I then lack reviews to post on this blog) - sigh.

Reading itself - bliss and joy, as necessary as breathing.

Contemplating my to-read shelf - guilt and stress (two emotions I can't seem to exist without).


  1. Book addictions are powerful things. I have literally hundreds of books on my shelves that I intend to read, including 2 year old ARCs. And yet... I just bought three new books at the bookstore. It's crazy. But it's who we are. I say embrace it.

  2. Jen, I'm glad to see that your addiction is as overwhelming as mine! Ginny, all I can say is "I'm reading as fast as I can!"