The curious denial involved in book addiction

book_addict_funny_reading_gift_magnets-rfbc62b02da644f53bf83f3ca128cf0ee_x7js9_8byvr_324I will admit it. I just don’t have the discipline nor motivation to blog on a regular basis.  My life is not suited to it at the moment and I don’t have the drive or will power to overcome that. That’s reality. No matter how I wish it were otherwise.

One thing that did strike me in the week or so since I lasted posted was the curious form of denial that is involved in my book addiction.  Yes, despite not managing to produce content on this blog I continue to collect books in an alarming rate (and read them at a not too shabby pace).

The denial involves the belief that somehow buying more books than you can ever possibly read is a good use of your resources.  Or that with as many books as I currently have I should be looking for more.  Why do I continue to visit bookstores, browse Amazon and sign up for book content on social media and email? I really don’t need anymore books.  I haven’t counted but I have a great deal of books at home that I have not read (both physical and digital). Hundreds of books I would guess.

I prowl library sales, regularly visit Half Price Books, find myself building wish-lists at Amazon, and I regular download free or highly discounted ebooks from various places.  And publishers continue to send me books as well.  I am drowning in books.  My kids bookshelves are overflowing and yet I continue to collect children’s books as well. From library sales and Half Price Books to Storia and other iPad apps my kids will soon be drowning in books.

Part of the explanation is that I use this as a form of entertainment. Bored? Why not scour the discount shelves at Half Price books.  And as a book blogger my social media streams and emails have a lot of book content which leads to free downloads or cheap books.  When you read a lot about books it is hard not to think about and end up buying a lot of books.  But I have managed to keep the costs pretty low by not buying full price books and instead going for highly discounted books.  As bad habits go, not too dangerous.

Another reason I have developed this bad habit is that I am always tempted by the potential of a great book.  Like someone whose eyes are bigger than their stomach, I always think about how great it would be to read this or that book; how I need that in my library. I collect various series and subjects and once you get started it is very easy to keep on collecting in that area.

I also tend to collect books on subjects that I find fascinating or want to know more about.  Which makes sense but I over-estimate my ability to read these books and thus gain that knowledge. Believe it or not, it doesn’t mean you are smart just because you have a lot books on the shelf on certain subject. My areas of interest are also constantly shifting and morphing. I am interested in presidents so collect a bunch of biographies but only read a few.  I am fascinated by mythology and so collect dozens of books on the subject from children’s versions and classics to reworked or adapted. But I don’t have the discipline to read through them all. I move on to theology and collect a bunch of books on Paul, Jesus, the gospel, etc. I read a few and then feel burned out on theology and so move on to something else. You can see the pattern. And each of these spurts leaves half a dozen unread books on the shelf.

The Kindle and other technology has added to this problem.  Publisher’s habit of giving away the first book in a series or pricing earlier books at $.99 makes it very easy to collect books at an alarming rate. There are a frightening number of books available for very little money these days.  I have a vast number of books on my Kindle and my iPad (and dozens of book related apps).

I know what you are thinking: what’s the problem? Oh sure, I have spent more on books than is probably good for my overall finances. But it is not like I have a high stakes gambling problem or drug addiction. And what is the harm in having a few too many books on the shelves and your Kindle loaded with ebooks? Nothing probably in the grand scheme of things.

But I do find it interesting how easy it is for me to convince myself that buying more books is a good idea.  Even when the odds of me reading the books I buy are quite low I have a very hard time saying no.  And I spend an inordinate time book browsing even though I have more than enough books just in my immediate to read list.  I am always looking for more books to read and buy when I am struggling to read the books I have in front of me. Logically I have it upside down, I should focus on reading what I have not buying more. But habits are hard to break and the mindset never changes

And I think that is what is at the foundation: for book addicts, or more charitably book lovers, there is no such thing as too many books.



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).

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