Stop me before I hurt myself….

I can’t keep up!  Everywhere I look there are books books books I want to read read read! I have a stack of to-be-reads that is threatening to squash the dog, and then there are the ebooks that no one can see but me, but they are growing in piles, too.  And yet, and yet – everywhere I look there is another one I feel I must read.

I thought I was safe reading Geist Magazine. It’s published in Vancouver and usually altogether too twee for me. I feel as if I should be smokin’ some BC gold and threading my toes through long sweetgrass if I am going to read that magazine – and it’s so Vancouver-centric I often smell the pacific blowing through. Being more of an Atlantic gal, I like my stories needlessly grim, preferably involving weather, religion, and perhaps some abuse. Or laughter and families. So first, it blew me away with a lukewarm review of Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists. This Giller prize winner left me cold. I did HAVE to read it, though, and bought it on an e-book so I could consume it as soon as possible, while the publishing house scampered to ramp up production. I would have expected a glowing fawning report, like so many of the other reviews. It wasn’t. How refreshing.

But the killer was “The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them” by Elif Batuman. Now, who could resist such a title? The excerpt, where an Aeroflot employee talks about a Russian phrase, “resignation of the soul” just poured spice on the review and I felt I had to read this book, now.

I can’t stop myself. It’s like eating a box of chocolates – you read (or eat) and read and read until you feel you must burst, and then, you read some more. I have three books out from the library now. I hate the library. First of all, it’s like free candy and I inevitably grab more than I should.  It’s too wonderful, the way books leap out from everywhere with tempting titles and back copy and subjects. They beg me to take them home.  But only for a while. And there’s the rub. I am always in the middle of at least two other books, and when I bring those library ones home, they want to be read first. But the other books object. “Just finish me”, they whisper seductively, “you know you want to…”

Or they say, “Hey, the print on that library edition is too small, don’t you prefer to read me?” My e-book thingie is a terrible temptation. It weighs nothing, it holds huge books without hand strain, and I can read it without my glasses on my very worst sight days.

But I can’t use it in the tub. Or the library books. So of course I need more books, of the bathtub variety. Or magazines. Like Geist. Or the excellent New York Review of Books. Which just starts the whole thing again.

Added to that is the feeling I should be writing my own books. So my brain wrestles endlessly between the need to read to learn how to write, and the need to write to learn how to write. And then there are the books specifically on how to write, which I buy and then never read. But they are there, sending me ethereal vibes, throwing dust on themselves so that I feel guilty about not reading them.

I feel like I am on a moibus strip, endlessly travelling, unable to pause. And it’s all glorious. For the first time, I can wallow in reading. Unless the dog needs walking, or I need to write something, or I feel the need to move.

The old addiction questions come back to me:

read alone? yup.

read before breakfast? yup

affecting budget? yup

people speak to me about my reading? yup

is it disturbing my ability to work? yup yup yup.

I suppose, years from now, I’ll be on the street corners, begging for loose change for the used book store, but for now, I’m going to plunge the depths of my addiction. Now is that Russian book available for Kobo?

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