Anyone who’s known me for more than ten minutes knows that I’m a confirmed bibliophile. (Sounds dirty, doesn’t it?) Basically, I love everything about books. I love the way a fat paperback smells when I open it to the middle and bury my nose in the crease. I love the sound my fingernails make when I drum them on the front of a brand new hardcover. I love seeing them lined up like colorful soldiers on my bookshelf or perched in haphazard stacks against the walls of my apartment. But most of all, I love curling up in bed or on the couch and getting totally lost in the world of a good story.
My parents never got me a pony or a Barbie dream house, but the one thing they never denied me was books. Even before my brother or I could hold a book on our own, our dad read us everything from Tolkien to Treasure Island to Greek mythology. We were surrounded by books, and not just books that sat collecting dust. Books that were read and used, collected and savored.
Loving books came easy to me. It was like breathing; for me, books were (and still are) just as necessary to my survival as oxygen. I’ve never been away from them. When I went to college, my favorite books went with me. First apartment, second apartment, etc. When I moved to L.A., I could only take two or three boxes of books, nowhere enough room for my entire collection. I had to pick and choose what went and what stayed. It was like Sophie’s Choice Part II.
In the six years since, I’ve bought new books, brought some of my old babies to the west coast as I’ve gone back and forth for holidays, and the big bookshelf my dad bought me in California has gone from being virtually empty to looking like this:
And that’s just one shelf. I have three others, smaller, but just as packed. And I’m browsing Ikea.com for a new one.
Some might call it an addiction, and maybe it is, but the only damage that’s ever come from it (save for the occasional papercut) has been dealt to my bank account. Books might be a drug, but rather than disable, they enrich. And I don’t discriminate. I love my bodice-ripper romances just as as much as I love my Jane Austen’s or my Harry Potter’s or my copy of Miyamoto Musashi’s A Book of Five Rings, a gift from my father which he calls “a handy and brief guide to projecting yourself.”
(Note: this might be the most cherished book on my shelves and I include my first edition Nora Roberts circa 1982 in that statement.)
I added 69 new books to my collection this weekend and all but five of them were free. I think if you ask any writer what they like to do most in the world, nine out of ten of them will tell you that they love to read.
The tenth one probably won’t stop reading long enough to answer.