If you asked me what the most complicated thing in my life was, I’d tell you Books.  That’s probably unreasonable, I can hear you thinking it.  You’re probably skeptically wondering: What about that bathroom that you can barely squeeze your rear AND your left arm into?  Or how bout that pesky dichotomy between all the things you want to throw out and all the things she wants to save?  Or maybe the therapy.  Those things should be enough to win the Complicated Olympics but they are all sad sore losers compared to Books.

  • Once, a wall of bookshelves collapsed nearing smashing the cat.  Think cats have a sixth sense?  They do.
  • The government shipped 6000 lbs of my possessions back from Africa.  2900 lbs were books and their boxes/packing.  2900 POUNDS.
  • At one point we had eight different styles of bookshelves.
  • I have read all of these books multiple times, except for the two promotional draft copies my mother sent me of poorly written ghost-romance.
  • I am constantly getting rid of books.  CONSTANTLY.
  • Every childhood memory involves a book somewhere.  No, really.  that time my mother tried to show me how to shave my legs but gave up because she didn’t know how to shave her own?  I consoled myself with The Sick of Being Sick Book.  I was sick of something all right.
  • Every time my mother sends a threatening What Do You Want When I Die email, I panic thinking that I’ll forget a critical book and she’ll toss it.  Great great great grandfather’s school desk?  Forget it.  Wait…  did he leave a book in it?

And so on.

My wife gave me a Kindle for my birthday.  Before receiving one I thought that it would be a rarely used gadget.  I assumed my love for Books went beyond the words and slipped headlong into paper smells, pages fluttering.  It turns out, that it’s mostly words with me, at least now, and I’ve spent the last few months happily gathering another 2900 pounds of ebooks.  Look at me, I silently preened, I have broken the habit.


I didn’t account for the core of the addiction.  Not the caffeine, but the Sunday morning cup and paper.  I forgot the Children’s Books.  Want to stop me in my tracks?  Throw a children’s book down.  Make it a Caldecott and I’ll fall flat on my face trying to get to it.  Is it Make Way for Ducklings?  Holy shit.  Did I see you go past here with a vintage set of Ingalls books?  I had Blueberries for Sal on my birthday wish list years before I had a child.  And not in anticipation of one either.  When I visit my mother, I carefully sneak away copies of my own favorites and in the years when pennies were tighter than they are now (I can’t believe that’s even possible), my indulgence was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Friends, I have a problem.

But when my wife suggested we veer into the bookstore on Sunday, I didn’t remind her about my problem.  And, like the junkie’s girlfriend who only wants him to be happy, we beelined for the kid’s section.  Before I knew it, RR and I were on the floor reading The Runaway Bunny and Hippos Go Berserk.   When I looked up long enough to drool over something else, I noticed we had company listening to the story.  I’d happily read all day if it means I can sit in a corner with a stack of children’s books while shy children peer around shelves and sneak closer to my voice.

Give me more books.  Unfortunately, RR’s bookshelf is full.  I’m going to need to take yours.

14 Responses

  1. Oh man, can I ever relate to this. Both myself and my partner are obsessed with books. I received a n.ook for Christmas last year and I also figured I was one of those ” must-have-the-tangible-book-in-my-hand” types who wouldn’t be satisfied with electronic books. Turns out thats relatively true, but I’ve also had no problems consuming up book after book on my e-reader. Plus its MUCH easier to impulse buy electronically.

    I can only imagine that love/obsession will carry over into Children’s books and young adult novels once I have my own kids. I just hope they inherit our love of books, too!

    • You’re definitely right about impulse buying – I’ve read things I normally wouldn’t have read if I had to find space on my bookshelf and physically hand over the money. But I LOVE the “send sample” feature (I assume the Nook has one too) because I’ve paid attention to tons more books even if I haven’t ended up buying them!

  2. Ok, given that you share my addiction- my most favorite children’s book at the moment is Crazy Hair, by Neil Gaiman. Its terribly fun to read and the illustrations are REALLY cool.

  3. I hear you. I have a good sized list of children’s books to buy/sneak out of my parents house. Do we have kids yet? No. It’s a problem.

  4. I’ve loved Neil for years – he’s cost me a lot of money! Got to see him at the National Book Festival a couple of years ago.

    Several of my friends in college were elem. ed majors, so I collected a few cool kids books back then – just about 20 years before Noah got here 🙂

    These days I make good use of our library.

    I have a couple dozen early 70s kids books my mom kept, and three or four of the Dr. Seuss that were mine as a kid.

  5. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I’m so with you. David and I bought each other Make Way for Ducklings and Click, Clack, Moo long before there was any inkling of Henry. I can’t get rid of books, though… for some reason, it just feels sacrilegious. We have a big stack that we keep meaning to take to the used bookstore, but we can’t bring ourselves to do it.

    • Megan- I hear you on the stack of books – every so often I make it to trade them in. but I love them all individually – it’s hard to let go!
      Cats – a ton of my childhood books are living in the baby’s room (not a literal ton obviously, though it would be possible I suppose and, like you, a bunch will have to come out once she figures out how to take them down.
      Beth – RR wasn’t into reading either until just this month and we had to try all sort of books to grab her attention. Big, black print, like in Click Clack Moo, catches her eye. There’s hope for Noah yet!

  6. I share your addiction. I knew I could marry my wife when she said that she’d always wanted to have a bookcase in every room of the house.

    Neil Gaiman has been one of my absolutely favorite authors for years, as well. (And I saw him at the National Book Festival too, Beth! We were probably at the same event.) Speaking of his kids books, I love The Day I Traded My Dad for Two Goldfish, and I have no idea why I, I mean *the baby*, doesn’t have a copy of Instructions yet.

    Our son’s room has three separate bookcases in it already. They aren’t totally full of books for him, yet, but we’re working on it. He already has several shelves worth. And that’s not counting the children’s books that aren’t going into his room because they’re *mine*, and while I will most likely eventually share them with him, he will not be looking at them unsupervised.

  7. Cats – how cool about Neil! I have Instructions – it’s really cool, maybe one of my favorites! And yep, I’ve got books that I’ll read TO Noah, but it’ll be a very long time before he gets his hands on them 🙂

    Sadly, so far Noah isn’t into books/reading. Thankfully, he’s not into tv either. We gotta work on reading more.

  8. Delurking to say – I have the same obession!! We converted our attic to my office and all of the walls are lined with books (in crappy metal wire bookshelves from Target – because I’m cheap like that). Favs from childhood are The Terrible Thing That Happened at Our House (Margie Blaine), A Bag Full of Nothing (Jay Williams), and Bembelman’s Bakery (Melinda Green)…now, of course, I’m going to have to take a work break to re-read my favorites and feel all nostalgic 🙂

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