The other day, I came across a post by an author I’d been following on social media for some time. The post was in reference to galley editions of their new book of stories, scheduled to be published in April of 2023. The synopsis of this story collection sounded so intriguing that I felt compelled to look back at what else this author had written – another collection of stories and a debut novel. The novel, a story about an American family torn apart by their daughter’s actions at her East Coast college, was familiar to me, and I thought perhaps I’d read it and simply forgotten, since I read an average of forty books a year.
As it turned out, I hadn’t read it. I had, however, purchased the book at some point, then shelved it among the hundred other books that remain on my “to read” list. This happens far too often – I’ll come across a book that piques my interest, buy it with the intention of reading it “soon,” then file it away among its contemporaries and continue about my life as if nothing ever happened.
And the next day, or next week, I discover new books that I want to read, buy them, file them away, again and again, until I’ve got so many books that I forget what I’d wanted to read the month or so prior.
As if that weren’t enough, I’ve probably got another hundred books saved in my virtual bookshelves, just waiting to be purchased at some point, awaiting their fate to be filed away on my actual shelves.
I know what you’re thinking - I have a problem. An addiction. An obsession. And you’d be absolutely correct in this assertion, but it’s one I’m not quite ready to address. Because I love the idea of being surrounded by books, of having a nearly unlimited option of what to read next right at my fingertips, of walking into a room and smelling the paper and glue, of knowing that I am surrounded by so many wonderful words and worlds, just waiting to be discovered.
So I’ll stick with my little addiction. After all, it’s not harming anyone, at least not until there’s no room left in my house to walk around. Then I’ll begin stacking them floor to ceiling, much like that ghost did in Ghostbusters. “You’re right Ray, no human being would stack books like this.”
And if one day my corpse is discovered buried under a stack of hardcovers, so be it. I can think of far worse ways to leave this world. With any luck, I’ll return to haunt the local bookstores, floating endlessly from aisle to aisle, reading for all eternity. Or maybe I’ll just come back as a bookstore cat.