Booking Through Thursday: Gluttony? Guilty!!


Book Gluttony! Are your eyes bigger than your book belly? Do you have a habit of buying up books far quicker than you could possibly read them? Have you had to curb your book buying habits until you can catch up with yourself? Or are you a controlled buyer, only purchasing books when you have run out of things to read?

If gluttony is, in fact, one of the seven deadly sins, my book addiction is undoubtedly a nonrefundable ticket to hell.

How bad is it? Well, I would venture that I bought a dozen books in April. That doesn’t include any of the review books I’ve received in the last four to six weeks. But that’s just one measure. For the heck of it, I recently began considering how many of the roughly 1,100 books I have remain unread. The figure I’m coming up with is right around 15 percent. In other words, there’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 to 200 books on my shelves that are unread in whole or in part.

Now some of those are reference works but I would be surprised if they came close to 20 percent of the total unread books. And to top it off, even though knowing I have books stacked up may cause me to pause in a book buying decision, it never brings it to a complete halt. Still, I find it quite easy to rationalize.

For example, I used to smoke a carton of cigarettes a week. Based on what I see in convenience stores and the like, that would run me $50 or more a week these days. In the last few years, my wife and I haven’t spent a quarter of that per year buying books for ourselves and our kids. I don’t think any of us — or my doctor — would complain that I was feeding my book gluttony instead of a cigarette addiction.

Still, it’s a rough road for a glutton. After all, I have a trip upcoming to a couple cities I’ve never been to before. That, of course, requires checking our their bookstores.

While we pay lip service to the virtues of reading, the truth is that there is still in our culture something that suspects those who read too much, whatever reading too much means, of being lazy, aimless dreamers, people who need to grow up and come outside to where real life is.

Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

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