Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Confessions of a Biblioholic Part I

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English: A Picture of a eBook EspaƱol: Foto de...
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I was having a moment of nostalgia as I held my Kindle. I remembered back in the day before it was so easy to download a great set like Empires of Shadow and Ash and have twenty amazing stories in the side pocket of my purse. 

For those of you youngsters who have never faced the Sunday paper landing on your porch with the Book of the Month Club fliers, I thought I might share this satirical essay I wrote. Think of it as a piece of book-history that went the way of the index cards in the library, though I will say the Kindle has made my addiction to books just that much easier. 


Hi, everyone. My name is Fiona, and I am a biblioholic. Now, I know that’s the way I am supposed to start my story if I had accepted my addiction and had resigned myself to a twelve-step program. Though, indeed, I have come to the realization that I do have an addiction to books, and I am even willing to wear the label “biblioholic,” I have not yet hit bottom. Hitting bottom means you have no more choices left; you must change or die. Right now, for me to change would be my death - perhaps not of my corporeal self but certainly of my brain, my character, my quintessential me.

One of the reasons I feel that I can cope with my biblioholism is that I am high functioning. I am not an every day abuser. I can resist the urge to succumb to the book for long periods of time. Then, out of the blue, it hits. I need to binge. I see books everywhere. I move in crowds where reading is condoned - even required to fit in and hang out. I see sales in bookstores. I get newsletters enticing me with five books for 99 cents. I am weak. I give in.

The books come in non-descript brown boxes. Day after day, they arrive. I pray silently that they not come on Mondays before noon or late Fridays when my husband would be there to see. I take the boxes in and quickly open them, pull the books out, and breathe them in deeply. Mmmm - the smell of binding glue and fresh ink. Intoxicating! I leaf through the pages - so promising, so tantalizing, woo-ing me. My children gather. “What’s in the box, Mom?” Their faces have that look which says they already know what it is, and they are disappointed by my weakness. “Uh, nothing.” I reply, folding the boxes and putting them at the very bottom of the recycling bin, where they might go unnoticed. I pile my new books on the shelves in such a way as to not attract attention, questions, the look in my husband’s eye which says he knows - and he feels powerless to help me - his addicted wife.

When my husband and I first met, he must have known of my addiction. He saw. I had all the signs - impossible to hide them, really. The rooms of my apartment were lined with shelves. The shelves were lined with books - sometimes two and three deep. I found new and creative ways of stacking that more might fit on to the shelves, for my apartment was small and so space was limited. My need, my craving to be surrounded by books, knew no bounds. Sigh. He didn’t understand the extent of my problem.

We decided to marry and buy a house. Did I love him? Truly love him? Or was this just a way to get more floor space, for more room, for more shelves, for more books - so I could get my fix? I guess I will never know. To an addict, it’s all about the craving.

We found a house and it was perfect. It had a converted two-car garage with a fifteen foot ceiling that in my imagination held book shelves from ceiling to floor, in lines like a library. My own, Oh! library. My soon-to-be husband laughed at me and shook his head at my glee. He thought he was helping me when he built a wall of shelves twenty feet long and twelve feet high. He was being a facilitator.

I moved my books from my apartment to the house. The shelving wasn’t enough. It never was enough. I needed more. As I talked voraciously about my need for more books, more books, more books - as I obsessed over them, I could see the shock and fear in my husband’s eyes, and the grip tightening on his wallet. He could see that I was not in control of the book. The book was in control of me.

He tried and intervention. He loves me. He asked me to agree to some safety rules. I could not go to a bookstore unsupervised. I was not allowed to respond to the book-of-the-month club. I smiled and agreed. He was so gullible! “I love you, darling. Our relationship means more to me than anything else. Of course I will give up the book,” I coo-ed. He believed me. He was in denial. But, ah, this tact only pushed my addiction underground. I learned tricks.

I found that if I kept culling old books off the shelves, I could replace them with new ones and hubby would be none-the-wiser. I packed the old books into brown paper bags. I hid them in the trunk of my car. I drove them to the Goodwill when my husband went out of town. Goodwill knew me by name.

As I said before, I am a high functioning, not an every day biblioholic. I can make it through days - weeks even - without a hit. The real problem is the binging. It occurred to me recently, as I observed myself that I have actually developed a philosophy that empowers these desperate times in my life. Times when all else is put on hold, where food and sleep are ignored in the pursuit of the book. I call it my, “If the Tree Falls in the Woods and There Is No One to Hear It, Will It Still Make a Noise Theory of the Book.”

Will it make a noise? No! Emphatically no. It will not make a noise, because there is no receptor. I am a receptor for the characters in a book. Because of me, they make a noise. While I read, they breathe; they dance; they cry. They make love and fight. They rise and plummet. It is only through me that they live - that their story progresses. If I were to put the book down, then that kiss would remain un-kissed. The lovers would feel their love unrequited. The spy could not find the bomb in time. I am necessary to the characters pulse. I am powerful in this way, as necessary as god. So says my addictive narcissism. For, without my eyes on the paper - my fingers turning the page, they do not make a sound; and, it is as if they do not now, and never did, exist.

As many other addicts, I feel better around those who share my source of dependence. I am normalized in this way. I hang out in bookstores and libraries. I know who is just biblio-curious, and who is strung out. I know a fellow biblioholic when I see one.

A source for books that I never tap is a book club. This statement intends no offense; I’m sure that book clubs are very nice. Book clubs are not for addicts; they are for social readers - those who can read a responsible book-a-month, chosen by vote, and discussed over wine and cheese. Social readers don’t understand the strength of the pull, the desperation, the constancy of the need.

I am not a polite reader. I do not discuss and nibble. I glut. I inhale. I need fellow biblioholics who know the places for the best stuff - good, pure, mind-bending, conscious altering phrases and ideas.

I have consumed books with remarkable voraciousness since my youth - when the first signs of addiction took root in my psyche. My mother had quite enough of children by seven-o’clock. That was my bedtime until I was fourteen. Bored and not tired enough for sleep, I pried the back cover off the control for my electric blanket and used the glow of the tiny, orange light to read. Bed so early - never tired- I read and read and read until morning. I was probably clinically addicted by eight.

Addictions, as we know often have a genetic component. My children did not escape from my gene pool. I should feel guilty; I guess. I have to say that from an early age - they all had amazing tolerance could inhale huge amounts of prose. My son, when he was six, was supposed to have lights-out at nine o’clock. He was exhausted and fell quickly to sleep. Every night I would read to him (though he could read chapter books since he was four). I read him soothing books like Heidi, and The Secret Garden - books that understood the one-chapter-a-night rule. But soon, sigh, maybe too soon, we started reading Harry Potter. Good ol’ Harry was coming of age and his hormones were all over the place. Harry hadn’t matured enough yet to channel his testosterone, and his need to prove himself was unrelenting. My son felt the tug, the enticement, the danger and thrill - so I read to him.

I tried to follow the chapter-a-night rule, as I had before. How could my son become addicted with such an itty-bitty taste at a time? Soon I was reading late into the night, ten, eleven-o’clock…. Even towards midnight, when my son finally passed out on my bed only to wake in the morning, book in hand, asking me to please read more, read more, read more. I gave in. How could I, weak as I was, not? We read all day, until I was hoarse and exhausted, and I forced myself, for health’s sake, to stop.

It was me. It is all my fault. I take responsibility. I was the pusher and my son is now as addicted as I am. He reads an average of a book a day. He becomes agitated, anxious, angry even that the library bin is emptying. The lights stay on in his room into the wee-hours of the morning. I know that, as I read into the night, he is in his room feeding his addiction, too. I know if I'm ever running low on my own supply, I can tap on his door - and he’ll be able to give me a fix.

What kind of mother am I?

My name is Fiona, and I'm a biblioholic.

Do you need to feed your addiction for paranormal dystopian
books? You can read my newest series The Elemental Witches Book One - Resistance in Empires of Shadow Ash. 

Ready? Here's the taunt - twenty books. TWENTY! for 99 cents. 
Which biblioholic amongst us could possibly resist?

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  1. Okay, so that was almost...oddly disturbing.

    Worse yet, because I recognize myself in there.

    God bless you Fiona. You have helped me make up my mind. I'm going to call someone right now and get the help that I need. Let me just take a look at this phonebook...hey, look, words...


  2. Not laughing at you, laughing from a self-righteous-if-self-delusional distance. Good stuff, Sis.