dawnswann

Posts Tagged ‘Self Indulgence’

Book Fetish

In books on June 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

*editors note: this post was originally written a few weeks ago on the way to the race at Whip City. Before you ask for the make and model of my car, I was in the passenger seat. But for the record, it’s a lime green 1970 hemi ‘cuda.** in the post to follow I allude to my book hoarding issue as being my only real compulsion. That’s a lie. I also get an assignment with a two month timeframe and wait until the week before the deadline to even call a source. (ok. AND I’m a hyper vigilant hypochondriac. And sometimes I lie. But this isn’t Dr. Phil, people.)the point is, I haven’t posted this post because I’ve been busy un-bleeping the ripples of all of last week’s almost missed deadlines. But it’s a good thing i didn’t because I had a really good idea…

I am lucky enough to be alive in a time when every action, whether noble or perverse, can be ascribed to a psychological condition. If you do something bizarre that you would rather not take credit for, all you have to do is blame your condition. I’m not trivializing these issues either. I’m just pointing out the convenience of being fluent in them. And it’s nice to all be in the same boat. The other day I was out to lunch with two of my dearest friends, Sandi and Alterna-mommy. (AM) Sandi was updating us on the progress of someone else’s OCD.

“Shit,” I said. “show me someone who doesn’t have OCD.”

My friends looked wounded.

“I don’t,” they each said.

“Sandi, you clean and paint your house all day long. AM, you frame all your jewelry and hang it on the wall. OCD, my friends. You’ve got it. And I hoard books. So there. We’re all crazy.”

Then we did some eating in silence. I envisioned my books. When I say I have at least a thousand, probably more, I am not even dipping my toes into the river of hyperbole. Our house is roughly 2,000 square feet, counting the garage. That means at least one book for every other square foot. My family lives in a used book store. We laugh at the library and the Internet when we need to research a paper.

Since Scott does not like to read unless it’s something that’s been posted on Craig’s List, sometimes he makes little sighing noises when a stack of books restricts his movement in some way. I tolerate the sighing, but when he escalates into suggestions that I donate a portion of my collection to the trash can, I kindly draw his attention back to the 25 bicycles that occupy the garage. We are all crazy.

Who cares about rooting around for the source of my crazy? I love to read and I will never quit. If I go blind, I’ll learn Braille. I loved to smoke and I quit doing that for all the loudmouths in the world like my doctor. A little complaining wont make me get rid of my books.

I’m certain, though, that I inherited book hoarding from my parents. When my father died, I also inherited his lifetime collection. He was an engineer and a computer geek. I donated most of the books, like the ones with titles I couldn’t even sound out, to the book box at the elementary school. Most of the espionage books went to Paul at Annies Bookstop in return for a lifetime worth of credit. But I kept the library books he forgot to return in 1957. I kept the books he read out loud to me like The Neverending Story, The Once and Future King and Pet Semetary. And I kept the ones that looked well loved. The ones he must have read between weekend visitations or during all the years we didn’t talk.

One day, Sandi was over marveling at the quantity of books. “Dawn, if you drop dead tomorrow, no one is going to know which you really loved because there are so many,” she said. That’s true. What if someone throws away my copy of The Phantom Tollbooth without thinking about how it kept me company when I changed schools in the 3rd grade? Of course, another psychological condition, narcissism, leads us to believe that anyone would even care. But I would have loved to know which my dad liked better: the dog eared Asminov or the dog eared copy of 2001.

Which leads me to my good idea! I’m starting a quest to weed my books down to the ones I love. That means cookbooks, self help books, and outdated how to build your own farm/robot/computer books as well as paperback novels. I’m going to read them all. If I don’t love them after 34 pages (I know, harsh.) I’m going to give them away or leave them somewhere for somebody else to love. It will be like a treasure hunt! And then, I will be left with the treasures.

So, let the games begin. I began with Frankenstein. Not the one by Shelley. The one by Koontz. I love Dean Koontz because once I sent him fan mail and his dog wrote me a letter back. She even signed it with her paw. And now I get a monthly newsletter from him. My dad loved Koontz too. There are a billion paperbacks in my collection. But Frankenstein will leave me later on today or tomorrow when I am finished with it. I will leave it somewhere secret and mysterious so that somebody can stumble upon it and say, “oh look, a book! The universe must want me to read it.” so, it’s not like I’m trying to cure my hoarding issue or anything. But I’m happy to share. Oh, and Scott? You’re welcome.

**a complete lie. It’s actually a rust colored Bentley convertible.

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Read These Books and Live Forever*

In Monday Review on May 18, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Oh God I love books. Stories…. Plots….characters I can bury my face inside…I need not say more. You get or you don’t simple as that. I wanted to say that much, though, because I’m in the middle of a self-indulgent moldering gloom thanks to the weather and the tragedy of the last few weeks and the fact that I quit drinking. I didn’t see that coming. Anyway, as we escapist readers do, I have, this week (give or take a day), read three novels which I love. The first was “A Visit from the Goon Squad,” by Jennifer Egan. The second, “The Girl Who Chased the Moon,” by Sarah Addison Allen and the third, which I am actually not quite done with yet is Chris Bohjalian’s “Secrets of Eden.” I chose these three because the bookstore had Goon Squad on the table of buy-two-get-one-free’s and I’ve wanted to read it since I first read a review…what? Last year? And therefore I should also buy two more books. What can I say? I’m a slave to the red sticker.

So, what I want to tell you is that Goon Squad is one of those books that make you stay up past Craig Ferguson reading. It will make you fake Montezuma’s revenge just to get a little time to yourself with the door locked. It’ll make you leave for carpool half an hour earlier just so you can have an excuse to sit somewhere and finish another chapter. It’s a novel made up of stories told by a handful of characters whose lives intersect at some point or another. The story doesn’t go from point a to point b, despite the section headings, however. Or maybe it does but in the convoluted f*cked up way that time and memory really work.  I remember reading that Egan had screwed around with the construction of the novel at the last-minute because she didn’t think it worked as a linear story.  She nailed it in ways that are going to be analyzed by future lit undergrads.

But, clever construction aside, Goon Squad is an overall smart novel. People should be falling all over themselves the way they did over Frantzen’s “Freedom.”   

*just kidding