Saturday, June 27, 2009

I’m Sharon, and I’m a Bookaholic

Books at the bedside

Please, someone, stop me before I buy/borrow more.  Ever since I retired at the end of October, a disease I thought was fairly well controlled has gotten out of hand. 

I’ve never waited until I ran out of things to read before going to a bookstore and/or the library.  But now, I’m a glazed-eyed addict on a rampage.  I actually already own enough books to keep me busy for the rest of my days, assuming some re-reading here and there.  Furthermore, this house is significantly under 1400 square feet, and all of the bookshelf room is taken.  On my bedside table, books obscure the clock radio, and hang over the edge of the shelf underneath.    Other tables and large baskets on the floor throughout the house groan with books and magazines.  We recently bought a small side table for the screened porch, and it was covered with reading material in minutes. 

We really don’t have this kind of money.  Will I have to resort, in my arthritic old age, to mugging old(er) ladies on the street and stealing their purses?  Cat burgling is completely out of the question at this stage of life.   And speaking of this stage of life, my eyes won’t  allow me to read for hours as in days of yore.  Nevertheless, I press on, trying fruitlessly to keep the car from turning into the Barnes & Noble parking lot when I’m on Broad Street.  Hell, the car will start up and drive to Barnes & Noble if we’re sitting in our own driveway.

Here are just a handful of the books lying about on the top surfaces around the house:

The Best of Adair Lara:  Award-winning columns from the San Francisco Chronicle.   Haven’t gotten to this yet.  I used to love reading her columns when I lived in California.

Given Sugar, Given Salt:  Poems, by Jane Hirshfield.  (This is a re-read.  I got the book off the shelf to find the title poem, which I want to send to a friend.  Then I decided to refresh my memory on the whole collection.)

Southern Living magazine, July issue.  I plan to make the lemonade iced tea with bourbon.  Woohoo.

Evensong, a novel by Gail Godwin.  This is a re-read.  My new status as a reaffirmed Episcopalian drew me back to the book, because the main character is a married woman who is an Episcopal priest.   Also, I’m very fond of Gail Godwin.  Haven’t gotten very far into it yet.  I note that there is a “reading group discussion guide” at the back of this book.  I hate those.  I don’t think I would do well in a book club.  It reminds me of book reports in grade school.  We always had to answer the question “What was the author’s purpose?”  When I taught junior high school English, I made sure never to ask that question. 

Coop, by Michael Perry, author of  Population:  485, which I read and loved.  Michael Perry is a guy who grew up on a farm and spent a number of years as a volunteer EMT in the rural area where he grew up.  Population:  485 is about that experience.  Coop was written after he married, moved to a ramshackle farmhouse on 37 ramshackle acres, and had children.  I can’t wait to read this.  I would not like living in rural Wisconsin at all,  or rural Anywhere, but Perry is such a wonderful and evocative writer that I savor every vicarious moment spent there with him.

Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts.  I could make soap.  I could make candles.  I could make jewelry.  I could make 100 different things at least from this book, if only I could pick one to start.

A Homemade Life:  Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg.  I’ve been reading Molly’s blog “Orangette,” for awhile now.  I’ve even made her roasted broccoli with shrimp twice lately.  So of course I had to buy the book.  I read cookbooks as story anyway, but Molly is right up there with MFK Fischer.  Dare I say better? 

We haven’t even gotten to the teetering stack on my bedside table.  And on the floor next to the bed, where I flang it last night before my eyes slammed shut, is Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout.  This book is so good, I’m putting up with the teeny tiny typeface.  An excellent writer links short stories together with a recurring character who is uncomfortably a lot like the part of me that I try to keep hidden. 

Oh, and Sheila reads, too, with an addiction only slightly more controlled than mine.  We didn’t even know that when we met up.  If either one of us hadn’t been a reader, our 23 years together wouldn’t exist.  Shudder to think. 


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  2. "Hello, Sharon," from the BA meeting.

    Yeah, I think there's something to this genetic component of addiction, writes Tara, who is sitting in her apartment that was chosen for its wall space (to accommodate shelves) and has since had it's bedroom turned into an office library, complete with free-standing shelves from a closing Borders, and where the bed is in the dining nook because the bedroom library space was far too valuable.

    Oh, and a bag of audiobooks from the latest library sale is in the trunk of my car.

    Yeah, it's genetic. Or contagious. It could be worse (right?)

  3. I have the same problem...want to read and my eyes tire out before I can read for hours like I used I blog, too which keeps me from reading.
    Ah, shucks...youth is wasted on the young. ha

  4. Sounds like our house. We don't have the wall space upstairs in this new place to accomodate our ever-expanding library, so we have a mishmash of shelves along the wall in the basement to house the majority of our books and vinyl LPs (do you suffer from that addiction, too?). The study is jam-packed with my husband's books; the bedroom is littered with both of our bedside reading past, present, and future; and even the dog's crate in the sunroom serves as a table for stacks of my husband's evening reading material. Mine is piled up on the couch...

    And I haven't even mentioned the CDs.

  5. In your case, Tara, no. It couldn't be worse. Retired One, you are right on. Di, I love the dog's crate serving as a reading table!

  6. Well, we have run out of both bookshelf and tabletop and basket space and are now resorting to precarious stacks right on the floor, which are fairly stable if you put the larger books on the bottom. And if you're quick about it, you can pull a book from the middle of the stack without upsetting it. I enjoy the challenge, but hope Tom will soon build more shelves.

    Olive Kitteridge is in my top five of most memorable book characters ever. I just finished the book a couple of weeks ago, but my mind keeps going back to Olive.

  7. What are the other four characters? This may be the basis for my next post. Everybody be thinking about your top 5 (10)?

  8. Me, too! I always enjoy hearing what people are reading. And, although I like your stack of books, I adore that wonderful statue/figure keeping watch over them on your table.

  9. This used to be us, we had books and books and books. As we moved and then as we downsized, I decided to let the county library "store" our books for us- which in many ways is rather sad.

    Speaking of old friends, I have read Jane Eyre and The Good Earth once every few years since I was 8 years old. It's amazing to read these classics at different points in your life, and notice what stands out to you this time.

  10. Sharon, I've just come to your blog from a link at John Bailey's and am enjoying it very much. Have to chuckle at your remark about your long relationship having less of a chance if one of you wasn't a reader. I live with a man who starts at the back of novels when rarely he picks one up, then flips through from back to front and thinks he's read the book. He reads sale flyers meticulously. He reads newspaper and magazine articles in the bathroom. He will spend an hour noodling through the phone book and chuckling at funny or unusual last names. I read books of all kinds -- bios, mysteries, fiction, non-fiction, whatever I fancy, as well as newspaper and magazine articles. When I read books, I often read five at a time (you know, if there isn't one that has me mesmerized). When we first moved in together, my spouse told me "That is not the way to read books. You should finish one before going on to the next." He was an expert, he apparently thought. Well, we are still together some years later, but our reading styles are far apart. I don't have very many books compared to most people who read as voraciously as I do, but he still tells me I have too many. Sometimes our different attitudes toward books are definitely a fly in the love ointment! So I got a kick out of your statement.

  11. Willow, I never did reply to your compliment about the statue, which I thought was unfortunately placed too close to the kleenex box in my photo. But thanks! We love her too. Katie May, I love your name, and thanks for stopping by--hope you come back.