My Beloved Book Addiction

At Grace Grafton's Reading

At Grace Grafton’s Reading

Last night at Book Passage in the Ferry Plaza for a Left Coast Writers poetry event, I realized that I never enter a bookstore without wanting to read every single book therein, which I know is impossible. I have this strange feeling that tucked between the covers is a message that I can’t afford to miss, a line that will open doors or explain some of the many mysteries that defy my understanding.

Of course, more often than not, it’s true. Whether the books I pull from the shelves are fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, they rarely disappoint. I generally find something … a beautiful, mind-bending line (last night Grace Grafton’s “so in love with our I-knows that we detached our hearts and hung them on the thorns”), an inspiring character or idea, a koan to ponder over. Often the books that seem least likely to please, yield the greatest reward, so I try not to overlook  … say, a book about zombies … ha, ha.

I once judged a literary contest where the entries tallied to over a hundred books (I think it was three hundred, but the number may have grown over time). With my cover-to-cover obsession, I actually read them all, a daunting task and one that the more experienced judges did not embrace. Did it discourage me, make me less of a literary omnivore? No, not at all.

And there are so many books! The shortfall isn’t in reading matter, but time, so I prefer to purchase books, and although I did enjoy a four-year stint as a book reviewer for the Sunday S.F. Chronicle/Examiner years ago when the books came to me, I like bagging the prizes on my own … selecting from shelves and shelves of possibilities for consumption at some later date, a method preferable to the one that ends in excessive library finds and no end of guilt.

Yes, I’d be ever so happy to live in a bookstore, an existence I approximated in college when I worked at one. It’s a good thing I live in a mammoth of an edifice—a three-story Queen Anne that is—like the wooly mammoth—the out-of-season construct of another place and time. But I have three floors of rooms all full of bookshelves stocked with classics, poetry, books on travel, mysteries, histories, memoirs and so on—some still waiting to be devoured.

I collect books. I also give them away as gifts, because reads like The Rosie ProjectCool Gray City of Love and Shadow on the Crown just have to be shared.

And I keep buying them because I’m hopeful—even in the face of a compulsion that seizes me when confronted with a wall of books. I really do love entertaining that hope; it’s a pleasant addiction—sisyphean yet strangely satisfying.

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By the way, for a great book on zombies, check out Dead Love, available in hardcover and paper. Just saying …

8 Responses to “My Beloved Book Addiction”

  1. Great first paragraph! So much wisdom (Ides of March by Thornton Wilder) and so many guilty pleasures (Renegade Angels by Silvia Day) and the stack of must reads that look at me from the nightstand but get crowded by impulse buys.

  2. Cheryl McLaughlin says:

    Ah, Linda, that welcomed sight of you with a book, or two, or three in a bookstore, with a glass of bubbly, your warm smile, giggly laugh and that tuned-in ear and inquisitive mind open for the line or lines that strike you. So glad you have three-story wooly mammoth to hold the gems, nurture the Muse and share you own for us to read….and oh my…you read all of those books! Amazing! Cheers,

  3. I kind of haunt them, don’t I? xo

  4. Yes, yes, I love hearing about the queue of read and unread. I have my own personal stacks!

  5. It’s your keen insight, Linda, that allows you to appreciate such a wide range of writing — turns you into a ‘literary omnivore’. It’s also what makes you such a wonderful writing coach.

  6. Thanks, Pat. High praise coming from you. Congrats on the paperback!

  7. Lowry McFerrin says:

    As a young fella, I haunted libraries, stalking books high up on the shelves – where I couldn’t read the titles or reach them – I just knew I wanted them. When I was older visiting bookstores; I deliciously coveted every dust cover thinking I’ll read these books one day… Now, just a few years later, books stalk me everywhere I turn, their craft-laden arms surround and instill me with new thoughts – in the attic, the bedroom, the office, the living room, the pantry…how lucky I am to be with you, Linda, engulfed together in an ever-expanding book universe. You are magnificent!

  8. Holy … you make it sound so nebulistically cosmic.

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