Friday, June 22, 2012

A Bibliophile's Confession

I’m wearing mom jeans, an oversized sweatshirt, and a pair of clunky white Reeboks that have seen better days. Bangs curl perfectly over my forehead and tortie horn rims conceal my eyes.

I don’t want anyone to recognize me, for the guilt feels tremendously weighty.

It’s my turn, and I stand.

“Hi, everyone,” I softly voice and throw in a trifling wave. “My name is Denise, and I—(focus intently here so your stutter doesn’t return)—I—I am addicted to b—b—b—buying b—b—books.”

“Hi, Denise,” they nod; a few smile.

"I just blew a hundred and fifty-one bucks and I could've easily doubled that."

These bibliophiles—the same ones who sit in Barnes and Noble for hours with a cup of tea and four sugars (or, more likely, a bottle of tap water from home) and pore through a stack of books they’ll never buy—get me. A bookstore is a brothel for our brains, our being.

However, I cannot live with the knowledge that someone else could potentially buy a book that I’ve already read, so I can never join the free-loading clique. I wouldn't want to ruin the sanctity of a book for someone else. Please understand, I like my books pure, untainted, with virginal pages waiting to be deflowered by my hungry mind alone.

No, I don’t want to go the library. You never know where someone read that novel. No, I won’t buy them for the Kindle. I’m tactile, thankyouverymuch. I like to touch things. No, I don’t want to borrow them from my friends because I might, indeed, drop a morsel of dark chocolate between two pages and then leave a future reader to wonder what the hell I was thinking, eating while borrowing someone else’s book.

Is there something wrong with this? Maybe.

But this is not my worst transgression, so I can live with it.

And so when I finished the first two books on my summer reading list—The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht and Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert—by the first day of summer, I knew I had to get my fix.

Neither of those two satisfied the jonesing that I get when I find a book full of what my former writing coach dubbed “gold coins.” Those moments of cerebral satisfaction that feed your creative soul.

Admittedly, Tiger’s Wife provided a rather interesting narrative, and her writing included moments that were simply grand. Still, as much as I enjoy folklore, the prose just meandered on and on, and of course the main character offered me little personal connection. Committed is not EPL, which I simply treasured. But with her follow-up novel, Gilbert seems rather dogmatic in her sobering look at what makes marriage work and not work. I never got to a higher ground on this journey of hers. And so with those two, I found there to be more gold in Gatsby’s tie.

So off to B&N I went with a tattered piece of lined paper as I searched for eight books to complete my summer reading goal of ten.

Unfortunately, not everything was in its place, and if you know me the slightest bit, I have trouble finding objects in a store. I almost walked out after only finding one on my own. Fortunately, a really hip chick who had the same one-side-shaved ‘do that I sported in college was working the help desk. She looked at my list of titles and led me around in sweet joy in a sing-song chirp.

“You’re going to love this! Oh, and you're going to looooove this one, too! Ha! And this!”

In the end, I came away with seven. One still has to be ordered.

And so in this order, I shall read:

1: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. I have very high hopes for this book.

2: The Buddha Walks into a Bar—A Guide to Life for a New Generation by Lodro Rinzler. This was recommended by my Buddhist friend who keeps trying to get me to go to yoga class. Perhaps once I can figure out how to ashtanga without bottom wind propulsion.

3: When the Emperor was Divine by Juliet Otsuka. This comes from my boss, who steered me from Buddha in the Attic.

4: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith Disclosure: this is a risky bet. I avoid all books relating to wizards, werewolves, and vampires, but who can resist a tall man with a beard?

5: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. I loved Pearl Earring, and Diane assured me that this is a keeper.

6: Home by Toni Morrison. Um, it's Toni Morrison. Need I say more?

7: Canada by Richard Ford. I have yet to know a Pulitzer Prize winner whose writing didn't earn my utmost respect. And Ford's won high praises.

Yes, my fix was a tad pricey. And yes, I could’ve borrowed several titles and saved a few ducats and bought those white Oakleys. But in the end, I have no regrets, for literature is a component that completes me.


“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” Joseph Brodsky

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