Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Out of Control

I have a serious book problem. I haul in at least 1 book a week and that's a slow week. Usually I haul in a sack of books. My bookshelves runneth over. My to-read pile beside the bed has taken on the characteristics of a bedside table. Just about every cabinet in the house hides a cache of books. Everywhere in my house is books, books, books.

It's genetic. I can't help it. Don't think I would even want to help it, if I could. Just walking into a bookstore can lower my blood pressure and calm my nerves. My idea of a good day off is going to a research library and rustling the pages of old, musty books. I nearly swoon when I walk into a courthouse vault and see ancient record books lining the room.

I wanted to be a librarian. I could have been happy spending my working life cataloguing books. I spent a summer or two substituting part time for the public library in Bastrop, back in my college years. There were days when hours would pass without my seeing another living soul. I didn't care. I was in charge of a building full of books and that was more enjoyable than anything else I could think of at the time.

To my sorrow, there was no college anywhere close that offered a library science degree, so I opted for second best - a business degree. I probably came off a lot better financially for that choice, but I will always regret that I didn't find a way to spend my life among books.

My bookshelves groan under a weight of history books, reference books, knitting/spinning/crocheting books, dollhouse related books, and the recent addition of audio books yet to be listened to. In my upstairs hallway is a collection of antique books by turn of the century author Amelia E. Huddleston Barr. On a small shelf in my bedroom is my collection of miniature books. In Mother's bedroom are the mysteries, the poetry volumes, the novels, and the gardening books. A cabinet in the dining room and a cabinet in the kitchen hide my large collection of cookbooks. In the garage are the books that haven't yet made it to the Goodwill donation center.

And still I bring in books. I hit Half-Price Books at least every other week. On the alternate weeks I will hit a Barnes and Noble or a Borders. I don't think I've ever walked into a bookstore and left without at least one book.

Books have always been my escape. No matter how bad things get, you can escape into another world for a few minutes. I try to keep a book in my purse or in the car for those times when you're stuck in a traffic jam, or waiting at the doctor's office. Nowadays I usually have an audio book playing while I drive.

I'm currently reading a series of 17 books by Elizabeth Peters (I'm on number 8) involving the adventures of a Victorian lady Egyptologist. I love finding a new series to read. Nothing makes me happier than to look over at the bedroom bookcase and see a pile of unread books involving characters I've come to love. It's nice to know that I have the rest of the summer's reading on hand and ready to go. Not only am I provided with a means to escape the troubles of real life, I'm learning a lot about Egyptian history. Elizabeth Peters aka Barbara Michaels aka Barbara Mertz has a PhD in Egyptology and brings her stories alive with factual information.

I feel sorry for people who don't know the joy of recreational reading. I would hate to think that I was stuck in the world of data processing and tax law with no chance to expand my knowledge of other times and places.

Yes I'm addicted to books. No, I don't want to be cured. And maybe someday, when I decide to retire from delinquent tax collection, I can snag a job as an assistant at a library. I can't think of a better way to spend my old age.

(By the way, other writers who have written series that are well worth seeking out are Joan Hess, Sharyn McCrumb, P. D. James, Dorothy L. Sayers, Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, Ann B. Ross, Janet Evanovich, Anne Tyler [not so much a series as a style of writing], J. K. Rowling, Lemony Snicket, Ellis Peters...I could go on for quite awhile and will stop here. Go out and read something!)

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