Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lydia Davis' The End of the Story was, for me, an outlier.

I can remember how I got it: my mother-in-law gave our daughter a gift certificate to the bookstore in the mall. By '95 R. already preferred the large chain bookstores for both purchases and ideas for books to get from the library and found slim pickings at the mall. By '95 we had internet access to the library and typically had four library cards maxed out with holds. You might say we were roiling in books.

I swapped cash for my daughter's gift certificate and bought The End of the Story for myself. I didn't know a thing about Davis but it looked good.

It still looks good and it can still trigger a pang or two, but I've mostly forgiven myself for its continued status as a tbr. It's all the other as-yet-unread hardbacks, the ones I've managed to accumulate seemingly en masse over the past few years, that trigger a case of guilt. I love owning books, I can't imagine why I would ever want to stop buying them, but I do wish I could limit my urge to obtain the just-published ones to those I will read immediately. Books I would prefer to own in hardback even after the slimmer more shelf-friendly copies are out in paperback can be picked up for a fraction of the cost if I'd just wait awhile. Why can't I wait awhile to purchase when I'll be waiting awhile to read them once they're on my shelves? That is the question.

My book greed is two-pronged. It wasn't until I found book forums and email lists and blogs that I knew much more about what was being published than what showed up on the weekly book page in the local paper. And it wasn't until we'd paid off the mortage that I began buying more than a few books for myself each year. I'd felt circumscribed for most of my life, why not stockpile now while I have the chance?

So far this year I've bought about 25 more books than I've read and about half of what I've read has come from the library. My tbr's keep increasing and I'm having to resort to doubleshelving and stacking. It took me two days to locate Dubliners. It actually was on the shelf where it was supposed to be, but with the stacks turned sideways, it was easy to overlook.

Sometimes I think I need to return all the library items I have checked out, cancel my holds, and read all my favorite book bloggers with my hands over my eyes. I should concentrate on getting through what I already own instead of agonizing over which books I should get next.

Because, yes, I'm ordering books tonight. Hardbacks.

I have a coupon.


  1. Anonymous10:48 PM

    Oh, my dear (virtual) book-blogging friend! Does this mean I shouldn't send you the book I set aside for you?

    I received two review copies of a book I'm enjoying greatly. I thought, "Hey! I should send the extra to Susan!"

    Does this mean I shouldn't?

    I could've written this post, by the way. My book-buying outstrips my book-reading by yards and miles. And, yes, sometimes my towering stacks of TBR shame me. A little, anyway. And still I buy. "Place your order now," and there I go again.

    Mental multivitamin

    Postscript: For some reason, I can't post with my Blogger identity.

  2. Free books are okay! I don't feel guilty over free ones!

  3. You aren't the only one.

    Every time I walk in a book store I tell myself that I will only buy what I can read within a few weeks. And then? I walk out wondering how I possibly spent that much money and where I will be able to store more books!

    It's an addiction. But it's a good addiction.

    There's always something good to read right at hand.

  4. I am laughing, but I am also laughing at myself. I do the same thing. I can't help it and it doesn't make it easier when the husband is the same way. Hope you had fun shopping!

  5. I've become guilty of much of this two, and it's happened after beginning to read book blogs -- but I'm not going to stop that, that's for sure!

  6. Anonymous8:34 PM

    Look for a small, book-sized parcel next week, SFP.


  7. Yay! Thanks, MFS. I'm looking forward to it.


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.