Friday, September 19, 2008

A LITERAL Obsession

My friend Meredith posted about this on her My Space blog. Unfortunately, I can't link you to the post, because you have to be her "friend" to read it.

So since you can't, I'll fill ya in. She wrote about her addiction to the Rite Aid makeup aisle, and her particular weakness for all types of voluminous eye lash promising concoctions. She confessed how she can spend hours there browsing, and gets peeved if someone suggests it's time to step away from the make up.

Her post was so honest, raw, and brave regarding her life long addiction, I decided to come out of the closet with my dirty little secret as well.

My name is Zen and...

I am a book hoarder.
(Hello Zen!)

Ok so it's not dirty because they aren't those kind of books. And it's not so secret to anyone who has ever seen my home, helped me move, or heard me rave, suggest, ward off from any of the titles I actually devour from cover to cover.

I do the same thing at Boarders that Meredith admitted doing at the makeup aisle in Rite Aid. It's bad enough the kids ask to wait in the car, or for me to go another time when they're not with me.

However, Boarders tends to be an expensive habit. Can only afford one "hit" there. So when I get a "literal" jonesin' I wander to the other side of town...the seedy, unkempt, starkly lit with florescent bulbs so no respectable reader would go there...

Discount book stores at Outlet Malls.
Or just plain old discount stores that carry books. Ollies...Tuesday Morning...

And don't even get me started on those used/buy out book stands I run into while on vacation, or in college towns or at artsy crafty festivals.

If the price is marked down to "half off" I could stay all day, easily justifying 5 or (ok ten) books in my basket, about things I never even dreamed I wanted to read, even books about dream interpretation (I have at least two that I know of.)

Recently I came home with a few books for Rick and me to share. That's the term I use for "I wanted this but couldn't justify buying it for little ole' me alone so it's for you too honey."

Now before you judge me, Rick does that too. I can think of some impulse tool, or gadgety items that he came home with in the past "for us." And honestly I gotta tell you, we both really always have been extremely curious about those secretive Free Masons. Oh- and those couple of books I picked up for us that give all the historical references to the Da Vinci Code, and Symbology will come in handy if we ever re-read it. Because we both actually did read it a few years ago.

For a while I had a hankerin' for the "Idiots" and "Dummies" series.
(Please save your snickering as to the "why" they appealed to me for later.)

I have

The Idiots Guide to Tarot and Fortune Telling (as well as Tarot for Dummies)-

- because I just couldn't decide which would have my fortune telling practice up and running more quickly. Oh- and I thought they might be great topics for conversation with Adri's Aunt, Sister Jean, should she ever decide to grace me with a conversation in the future. And I'm sure we could discuss the following as well-

The Idiot's Guide to Buddhism and bedfellow Idiot's Guide to Hinduism

Purchased because the obvious first step in attaining spiritual bliss should start with admitting we are all starting out ignorantly "unblissful"

I also possess

The Idiot's Guide to Stepparenting

-there's a title my step daughter would approve of I'm sure. Actually this one is a bit condescending to any seasoned and disillusioned step parent. My favorite over simplified advice? Just have family game night to solve all blended family woes!

And, my all time personal favorite in the Idiot series, because I purchased it solely to display and not at all for content-

The Idiots Guide to Homeland Security. Personally, I suspect it was ghost authored by the current commander in chief. If McCain/Palin win (God forbid) I will have to send it off to DC in January, so Palin can brief herself with a book designed with her needs in mind.

I have also picked up other quick studies like Essential Philosophy, and the Everything Ghosts books to cover any metaphysical and philosophical debates I might find myself in at all the alumni cocktail parties I don't attend.

Of course, I would be amiss if I didn't mention that in my 40 years on this planet, I have either received as gifts or purchased for myself every take on the subject of "Zen" known to Buddha.

How can I rationalize all those discount books?

Well...they are cheap of course. And such obscure titles I might never find in Boarders or Barnes (never mind that there may be a very good reason these books found themselves cheap and obscure.)

Of course at Ollie's you do have to be selective. Though their religious coffee table and "Idiots" guide books offer great diversity, their fiction is unusually Christian theme oriented. Many a time I purchased what looked like an interesting novel, only to start reading about the main character's life being centered around praying to God for every decision that comes their way. I learned at Ollie's to make sure to read not just the synopsis on the jacket (where one would think a Christian themed book would proudly announce it's agenda) but skim through the first chapter as well.

Interestingly, Ollie's also has the most impressive selection of adolescent gay and lesbian themed books as well. Though I think that's great and offers an albeit strange kind of balance, the extremes of both subjects makes me skim carefully when shopping for the kids as well.

Like my friend Meredith's make up drawer, I have shelves of books read, half read, want to read, never will. There are books started and tossed aside for another in every bathroom in the house. And bookcases in every room. Not more than one or two per, but really- why am I buying all of them? Why in the world do I think I need them? Haven't I ever heard of the library?????

I have. My mom works there in fact. Yet....

still I buy more.

As does Rick, unfortunately, because he is also a hoarder of books. Sometimes I think it's why we love each other so much. We would never, ever dream of telling each other we don't need another book! We have some similar, but mostly varied tastes. In a well organized pricey store like Boarders, or Barnes and Noble, I head toward all things metaphysical / spiritual/philosophical/self helpful/fictional/theatrical/poetic-al/writing-al.

Rick heads to history, historical fiction, and sports.

OK. So he's less of a hoarder than an avid reader. But he humors my addiction because it's rather intellectual. Well, books are anyway. I would be if I actually read some of them all the way through.

I think I buy them because they will take me away from my problems, my boredom, my uneventful (or overly eventful depending on the day) existence. They will make me smarter, more worldly,amazingly organized, a competent writer, a better cook.

(Oh...alright. A cook AT ALL.)

I buy books for Anna, gift books for friends and family (and if I really like them I have to get myself one too of course.)

I come from a long line of hoarders- I mean collectors- I mean future clients of Clean Sweep. (My addiction to that show is a subject for another blog.)

Most of us in my family hoard all things, but stick to books in particular. Even my mom who has not only heard of, but clocks in at the county library each day, will read a book for free, then go buy one because she liked it so well.

My greatest fear is that I will end up with those piles/paths in my house that you see old professors have in their houses in movies. It's part of their sad, lonely existence with only books left to be their companions. Although that would be preferable to my other fear of ending up on Oprah as a project for Peter Walsh.

That isn't enough to stop me for now, though. I just keep buying them, and creating my own eclectic library. And one day may become my own eccentric home librarian, like a literary obsessed Ms Haversham, kids will be fascinated and repulsed at the same time.

Every New Year's Resolution is the same-

Stop buying and start reading from my own impressive collection.

Then, the first week of January, I head out to exchange an extra calendar, or book I already had,only to end up adding two more to take their place.

Speaking of a "place" for books, don't even get me started on my secondary addiction related quest- decently made bookcases to smartly house all my books.

I have looked high and low, on and off line. My searches have brought me to desperately consider my least favorite yet highly affordable option of Sauder "Woodworking" (ironic title given it's affordability is due to it's pressed wood, full of chemicals and bad for the environment construction. Last spring I broke down and purchased some contemporary geometric designed bookcases from Target I had been eyeing and talking myself out of due to price for over two years. I had them delivered (so incredibly sorry for your back UPS man) knowing there was "some assembly required."

Ummm Yeah.

Heads up to those of you who are mislead. "Some" is a very ambiguous and relative term. Those bookcases weren't too bad, but were like putting a complex, eighty pound life size wooden puzzle together. Each one took several hours, though the second went much faster as I was more familiar with the design after putting the first one together. I did require a few assistants and Noah and Tanner stepped up to the task. Actually, both boys proved to have advanced geometric and design minds when it came to that project. I was grateful for their help. They may have a future in design of assembly requiring furniture.

And I must add that the kids, especially Anna, inheriting all three older siblings children's book collection, needed her own bookcase, small enough that she wouldn't crawl up and pull it down on herself. I finally ended up buying not one, but two "doll house" book cases for her. Well, that is to say I purchased two in order to try and get one out of them, because the first one had broken parts. So did the second. And after trying for several hours to make furniture out of poorly designed particle board, I learned the value of reading the online reviews of "some assembly" furniture. Because everyone complained about the flimsy, missing parts, wobbly constructed doll house bookcase, but I thought- Oh NO! I'm a pro! I just put together two geometrically puzzling full size bookcases! And hardware that was so fabulous with that one is the same hardware on this one that is 1/4th the price!

However, the cam locks and accompanying cam dowels that were so helpful on the Target bookcases (because the shelves were perpendicular to each other) failed to prove as useful on the cheap Target doll house bookcase roof (because it was at a 45 degree angle not 90 degrees which is not how cam locks are designed to work.

So I ended up turning a garage sale (eek! Those are also very dangerous for a family of hoarders) find into a bookcase for Anna. Originally a kids pastel kitchen, it now neatly holds all her books, though I did have to prop it up with some of Rick's old textbooks from teaching Systems Engineering (see there's a good reason to hold onto books too! They are good props on furniture not designed for the purpose for which you wish to use it! that I have the design and measurements of my favorite bookcases, I might have to take up woodworking and pirate my own geometric designed bookcases...

Oh- great. Now my addiction is leading to a life of white collar crime.

What's next? EBAY????

Oh wait. I tried that already. And yes it was for books. But these were the out of print kind, from my childhood that I lost in the great Manor house flood of 2000. And since I found them, I went on to buy my siblings copies of some of their favorites.

That's completely legit, right? I haven't been on Ebay since last Christmas.

Honest... I haven't.

But the holidays are just around the corner!


Anonymous said...

OMG girl you are too fierce and TOO funny with your book addiction. I too must stand up and say books are my 2nd addiction!!! I'm with ya sister!


state of grace said...

Blogger state of grace said...

Thanks Meredith! I apologize that the version of this post you read still had many typos. I am having some issues with blogger, where I make corrections, but it keeps posting the draft before. Hopefully, I caught all of them (or at least most of them) this time.

I thought of you last night at Rite Aid!


Design Goddess said...

You and Skii could probably compare bookcases. She, too, is a hoarder of books! :)

Me? Not so much....

state of grace said...

No my friend...

You are a hoarder of shoes!

And OCD about how you store them if I recall. ;)