Monday, August 02, 2010

Bookaholic?

by Jim

It’s finally August which means a few things: I’m counting down to vacation (five days!), New York smells like hot garbage, and publishing is in its slowest season. I’ve set a goal of clearing my Kindle before I head out of town on Saturday. It’s an ambitious goal, but so far seems doable (check with me on Thursday).

So what does that mean? One week of entirely non-work reading. It’s the week I have in mind all year long when I hit the registers of a bookstore laden down with things I know I don’t have time to read. Book shopping is my crack. It always makes me feel good. Until I go to put the books on shelves and realize how much I have that I still haven’t read from the last time I went shopping. And the time before. And the time before that. And 2006-9.

Come Friday, I expect this to happen: I go through my bookshelves picking out my vacation reading. I end up with maybe 12 novels. As I start to whittle down, I realize that none of these are what I really want to read on vacation. I reshelve everything and start over. This time I come up with 15 novels. I narrow to five, and I’m completely sure of them. They go into my suitcase. Saturday morning: I pull all five out, throw them on the coffee table, and randomly grab the first four things I see. I get to the airport and drop $75 in the bookstore.

Does anyone else have this problem? We’re all readers here, so I feel like I can’t be alone in this. But, I mean…I work in publishing. I get free books! And I STILL can’t avoid the pull of bookstores.

So fess up: does anyone else have the Barnes and Noble and the Borders frequent shopper card…even though they prefer shopping in independent bookstores? Has anyone else bought three copies of the same book because they just kept thinking it looked awesome? Or shown up late to dinners, shows, movies because they were lost in the stacks of beautiful books waiting to be read?

And, okay, let’s say I do end up shopping again for my vacation reads. Anyone fall completely head over heels for a book lately and just HAVE to recommend it?

21 comments:

  1. Yes! It depends what you're into, but my recommendations are: for beautiful, almost poetic literary fiction, "Let the Great World Spin"; for a realistic but somewhat romantic page-turner, "One Day", and a book that just simply must be read, fresh, original and full of characters you fall in love with: "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society".

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  2. I left my wife sitting in a B&N chair the other day starving as I went through the stacks looking at all the different books that were in the areas I was researching. Don't have their card, but also don't have any independent book stores around anymore.

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  3. I have a hefty stacks of free books for review that I'm supposed to be reading. This means that I put off the stacks of books that I bought--books I was desperate to read--which means that if the first page of the ARC doesn't wow me, I immediately move into a grumpy state of mind because I'm wasting my time with this book instead of the one I actually want to be reading. Nvermind the list of classics I want to get around to reading at some point before I die.

    I think my current tally of books I own that I haven't read yet is 25 ish, with 4 books I'm supposed to review and more always on the way. It doesn't help that my bike route home takes me past two Barnes & Noble stores. Argh!

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  4. Yep, I've got all the cards and we have an indie we love near us. My idea of a hot date is dinner followed by bookstore browsing. :) (Luckily, hubby is really nice about it.) I have a huge stack of to-be-reads, both nook and "real." Can't wait to get on an airplane with three quiet hours to do nothing but read. :)

    Have a great vacation! Enjoy all that reading.

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  5. I went to Barnes & Noble a few days ago to kill time while waiting for a car repair...and left with 3 books :) One of them I ended up finishing that day: "Broken Glass Park" by Alina Bronsky. There weren't any chapter breaks in the whole book, which I found fascinating (and which probably contributed to my inability to put it down).

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  6. I ABSOLUTELY have this problem!

    I buy books like a crazy book buying thing, and the last couple years I've even tracked how many I buy; I just recently topped 200 for this year. I buy way more books in any given year than I actually have time to read, so I have things that have been on my To Read list for many years! I buy from B&N, I buy from Fictionwise, I buy from our tasty local indie bookstore Third Place Books, I buy from the University Bookstore and its awesome SF&F section--and I buy DRM-free ebooks directly from publishers whenever I have the opportunity.

    Right now I'm on a new book buying hiatus until the end of August, partly due to brief income shortage and partly due to simply wanting to knock more things off the To Read list. But this hasn't stopped me from downloading tasty free ebooks either. *^_^*;;

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  7. TROPIC OF NIGHT by Michael Gruber is brilliant. Shamans, anthropology, violence, smart, smart horror -- it will kick your brain sideways, in a good way.

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  8. Today had to go shopping for work clothes and ended up on Oxford Street in H&M and meeting up with a friend. I eventually had to get home, and she had to get to the British Museum so I ended up walking with her in the general direction of the BM intending to get on the tube at Tottenham Court Road. Somewhere between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road tube stops we passed a Waterstone's, my book radar Beeped loudly but I did my best to ignore it, and kept walking with her. We got to Tottenham Court Road, she walked me down into the tube station I hugged her goodbye and she went back up street level. I then proceeded to double back just to go browse through the Waterstone's for 30 minutes and eventually succumb to weakness and buy a book even through I have 2 currently going at once and at least 2 more bought within the last little while that I haven't even cracked open yet (I know this doesn't seem like an exorbitant number of books, but I am a broke recent graduate and the majority of my book stash is in the parents' house). And then naturally had to walk back to Bond Street Tube station because Oxford Circus was too slammed to even get into, it being rush hour by this point and all. You know you're a bookaholic when you're hiding your habit from your friend and doing extra walking while carrying bags full of work clothes, and spend more money when you've already spent too much on said clothes, and are aware your rent is due today and you're not being paid for the new job until the end of the month.

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  9. I know that feeling of purchasing new books only to realize how much on your shelves still needs to be read. The call of new books proves irresistible though; if I try to abstain, I find myself developing a distaste for everything currently on my shelf, and feel I will only be sated by the new book...

    Libraries help, though, especially if the book I would have purchased isn't a brand-new release with a miles-long hold list. At least, they help me save space on occasion. I had both the Borders and B&N cards at one point, but I've made myself go less frequently to the bookstore over these last few months because I needed to save the money and space. Tis an addiction of the best kind.

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  10. Hello, my name is Jo, and I'm an addict.

    When a previous blog post requested pictures of our bookshelves, I opted out, because it would have taken me all day to cut and paste images of the eight bookshelves into one piece, and I would feel terribly guilty seeing all the books that are waiting to be read.

    And, it would have taken away from the time I would have to read. One used book store and a Books A Million are my only book shopping options locally, so I'm a frequent flier at the local library.

    Thank you for letting us know we are not alone, and for seemingly single-handedly keeping the publishing industry afloat.

    Enjoy your vacation!

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  11. Yeah, I have about 40 books sitting on my shelf waiting to be read (that's not counting the ever growing list on my Nook!) I read fast, but nowhere near as fast as I tend to think I can.

    Until I got my Nook I would buy the hardcover of my fav authors new release (even though I pretty much despise hardcovers) and then I'd buy them again for keeping in my collection when they're released in trade paperback, because that's how I roll.

    I may or may not have also purchased a duplicate set of one of my favorite series, because I liked the movie version of the covers better than the originals.

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  12. Yep, that's me, too.

    I shipped over 100 lbs of ARCs home from BEA. And as soon as BEA ended, what did I do?

    Went to The Strand and bought more books :/

    Recently, I'm loving SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY (Shteyngart) and LINGER (Stiefvater). You?

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  13. I would say I have around twenty books that are duplicates of books I've already owned and three or four that are 3 of a kind! I definitely need to carry a list of the thousands of books that I own to stop this nonsense! Then again I always have a ready gift on hand to give away when the need arises!

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  14. I forgot to mention that I just finished reading Guillaume Musso's Seras-Tu Là? It was literally a page turner. When you thought the story couldn't possibly get any more interesting or exciting, he kept coming up with another twist! I havent' read the English translation, Will You Be There, so I don't know if the translation is as good as it is in French.

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  15. Hearing that you also have this problem makes me feel better about myself! I worked in a bookstore for three years and continued to get use out of two corporate member cards (that were not my employer's).

    I'm finally getting around to Kingsolver's The Lacuna. It's a beautiful, beautiful novel. Also, Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude is still one of my favorite summer reads!

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  16. Every time I enter a bookstore, I give myself a limit. One book, maybe two. And before I know it, I'm heading home with four or five because I just couldn't put them down.

    Not only that - I am constantly rearranging my bookshelves and complaining how I don't have enough space. You know how some girls love shoes and would love a walk-in closet? I'm like that with my books. My living room is slowly turning into a library.

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  17. I own, I guess, a few hundred books -- not an impressive collection by booklover standards, but large enough. I have probably only read half of those books. Since I thoroughly intend to read most of the rest, I don't allow myself to buy new books. Except when, oh, there's a book coming out that I really must support. Or when I'm in an independent bookstore. Or when I'm in a chain bookstore. Or...

    Yes, I too have a problem.

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  18. I can heartily recommend Meljean Brook's steampunk novella Here There Be Monsters in the anthology Burning Up.

    Read it. It's wonderful.

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  19. If you haven't already stocked up:
    THE POSTMISTRESS by Sarah Blake (If you liked Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society)
    ALL OTHER NIGHTS by Dara Horn (Genius Civil War spy drama)
    Both with vivid, flawed characters.

    Have a great vacation!

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  20. I just binged on 9 books at B&N. It's the smell. I'm glad there are others like me.

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  21. My personal quirk: If I attend a book signing or reading, I buy the book. Or, at the very least, I buy another of the author's books that are sitting on the table. This should be good news to all of you authors out there: It does pay to appear at events in person! I bring home stacks of library books, determined not to be lured by the pretty covers in the B&N and Borders (yes, I frequent both, as well as the most fantastic indie, Rainy Day Books in the Kansas City metro area). But somehow, even if I just stop in at one of the above for a cup of coffee, something ends up in my purse. (I buy it, not steal it.) And I have a shelf and a half full of books waiting to be read.

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