January 9th, 2003


Book Addiction

All through college I was such a steady, consistent, healthy reader - every three weeks I'd stop at the college library to return a backpack full of absolutely as many books as I could carry, and I would then spend half an hour or so picking out new books until I couldn't carry any more, and I would steadily consume them all, about one book per day, at an absolutely unchanging pace, and it never interfered with my homework time at all because my bus ride to and from the campus every day was an hour each way, and it wasn't possible to type term papers on the bus so I just did my reading then (though being an English major I did have homework of reading books too, which I did do on the bus, but I am a very fast reader so the homework reading was always easily completed long before it was due and I had plenty of reading time still left over). Reading on the bus also provided the convenient advantage of helping to discourage the strangers sitting next to me from trying to start inane conversations with me, which was highly important because I absolutely loathe small talk and anyone who tries to engage me in it for even three seconds induces intense homicidal urges in me. Oh, and then when I got home, if I did happen to get all my homework done with time to spare, I had no internet access at home and I hate television so the only thing to fill my extra time at home with was reading or writing. I wrote fiction when I was in the mood to write and I read when I wasn't in the mood to write.

Anyway, the first trauma of graduating from college was that I lost access to my beautiful beloved college library, which was a hundred million times better than even the very biggest public library in downtown Sacramento - in addition to which the college library was fantastically forgiving about late returns and never once charged me a fine even when I forgot to return a book or two for several weeks, whereas the public libraries charge something like a dollar a day for each day of lateness. The first time that I accidentally forgot to bring one of my books back to the downtown public library after having graduated from college, I was so shocked by the late fee (one book, for a mere week) that I decided just buying all my books outright would be more economically efficient than going to the library, and that is what I have been doing ever since.

But so much of my life has changed - not merely where I acquire my books, but also when I can find time to read them. I no longer ride the bus - I drive my car to work and back, and one simply cannot read a book while driving a car. And I have internet access at home now, and also at work, so there is no time at all when I simply have nothing else interesting I could be doing instead of reading. Any time I spend reading is time that I can't spend doing something else.

I know all this sounds like a lead-in to an announcement that I never read anymore, but it isn't that at all. What has happened, instead, is that I have turned into the most entirely insane anorexic/bulimic-style binge-reader who goes six or seven months without reading one single book ever, and then one day something happens to alter my routine just enough to induce me to pick up one single book again, and suddenly the full force of my hunger comes flooding back multiplied a hundredfold and for the next several months I do absolutely nothing but read absolutely nonstop, I don't sleep, I don't email, I become frightened of myself, at 2:00 a.m. I finally finish a book that I permitted to keep me up way past my bedtime telling myself I was so close to the end I might as well finish, and then the second I put it down I just want to pick up another one and go right on reading. I have not eaten dinner several nights this week because I couldn't tear myself away from my book even long enough to stuff a frozen pizza in the microwave and push the "on" button. And anyway I don't seem to feel hunger when I'm this deeply immersed in my books. Other people make New Year's Resolutions to read more classic literature, but this current binge of mine is by no means the first binge I've been on in which I've felt that what I really desperately need is to make a New Year's Resolution to stop wasting so much time reading classic literature.

I have things I need to do that are not getting done. That haven't been getting done for weeks. I am a crazed maniac who cannot control myself right now. I am afraid.
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