Is there a self-help program for books?

In case the very existence of this blog and all of the previous posts have not made it clear, I will admit it to the world: I am addicted to books. I have gone past merely liking them or being interested in them or even being an “avid reader” to flat out addiction. I have simply found it impossible to stop buying books. Perhaps not surprisingly, writing about books more often, and as a result receiving free books in the mail, has only made things worse. These days I seem to alternate between despair at ever reading the books in my TBR pile and glee at buying even more books (now the bookcases to hold them).

Well, enough bookcase confessional, let me share with you the fruits of my latest bookstore outing. One type of book that hits my sweet spot is a well designed, succinct, series on an interesting subject. I have begun collecting the American Presidents Series edited by Arthur Schlesinger Jr.; The Modern Library Chronicles Series; and The Penguin Lives Series. I own a dozen or so in each of those series and have read quite a few. There is something about this type of series that just pushes my buttons. Short means I might actually read them, a series which touches on the “anal retentive” aspect of my personality (something cool about a series lined up in numeric order on the shelf), and the interesting subject and author perspective appeals to the reader and writer in me.

Given my weakness, it is no surprise that I added a couple of works to my collection today – both in the Chronicles series – that might be of interest to readers: London : A History by A.N. Wilson. Publishers Weekly certainly paints an interesting picture of this work:

biographer, critic and novelist Wilson (The Victorians; Tolstoy; etc.) expresses a sense of history leaving traces that can be teased out by thoughtful observation, alongside his love for and exasperation with a city that insists on remaking itself. He alternates describing architecture (both extant and long gone) with retelling events that filled the streets and fleshing out cultural and social subtleties, from Roman times through the heyday of Elizabethan, Georgian and Victorian London. He finds fault with city builders in almost every era and rails against the vandals of the past for the lost architecture and physical spaces of the city. His critic’s eye gives his observations a curmudgeonly tone that becomes increasingly political as he approaches the present and excoriates recent policies and projects such as Centre Point and the Millennium Dome. Overall, he evokes a particular energy as the more essential quality of the city and forgives London for its faults. Historically and literary minded visitors will find much in this book to guide them and deepen their understanding.

Doesn’t that sound interesting? I couldn’t just leave that on the shelf now could I?

I also added The Boys’ Crusade : The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe, 1944-1945 by Paul Fussell. Fussell is very well respected in this field and it is a fascinating subject so hard to go wrong on this one.

To insure that I don’t get too serious (like that is possible) I also picked up the fifth and final volume in the Spiderwick Chronicles Series The Wrath of Mulgarath. I came up with a fun way to enjoy these small but playful and artfully illustrated works. I buy the books, and read them (the books are only a little over 150 pages with lots of illustrations), and then give them to a friends son. This way I get to read and enjoy them but get to pass them on to someone more age appropriate so to speak. Gotta love feeding the habit of young book addicts!

So that raps up by book buying binge report for today (I did all that damage on my lunch hour). I am going to try really hard to catch up on some reading before I plunge into book buying again but who knows how I can stay on the wagon . . .

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).