Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Book Diet

I'm on a book diet. Truthfully, I've been on a book diet for about six or seven years, but I just can't stick to it. The book diet started out something like this:
  • I am an obsessive book buyer
  • People give me books/bookstore gift cards for my birthday/Christmas etc
  • I have a giant bookcase that is full of books and there are books in various other places through the house plus books in boxes and not in boxes at my parents' house
  • I looked at all the books I have and realized there were quite a few I had never opened. This was a long time ago, just before I graduated from university, and I didn't really have time to read anything other than my course material and sometimes even that was too much
  • There is a small fortune tied up in books in my house
  • I am also an obsessive book keeper (one who keeps books as opposed to a bookkeeper). Unless it's horrible, I won't get rid of it and money were very tight resources when I finished university and I decided I had to go on the book diet. Which meant NO MORE BUYING BOOKS until I'd read, or attempted to read, every single book in my bookcase at least once. There were a few exceptions to this:

1. If something came out that I HAD to have (in recent years this applies to Harry Potter)
2. Gifts were okay
3. I could buy books if I had a gift card/gift certificate
4. While travelling, if I found myself bookless, I could purchase ONE book at a time. Unless the book was super exceptional, it should be left with someone I stayed with, a fellow traveller or even in the seat pocket on the bus/train/airplane for someone else to read

So...the book diet worked very well for the first few years when I was travelling a lot and living in London. Then Anne came to visit from Aberdeen. I had been great about not buying books because they'd be a pain to transport back across the ocean and there was a decent library of books that were mostly left behind when people continued on their travels, so I had no problem finding reading material.

But then Anne came. And around that time I decided I needed to read Chocolat. Anne is as obsessed with books as I am (maybe even more obsessed). Anne needed a book for the really long train ride back to Aberdeen.

So we went to Waterstones. Anne was looking for something in particular that we didn't find there. So we went to Charing Cross Road, home of multiple wonderful used bookstores, specialty bookstores and regular bookstores. And that was the beginning of the end.

I was already in possession of my copy of Chocolat but somehow, we got on the 24 bus back home and I had about 8 books in my bag. And I kept buying them. But I kept telling myself that I'd leave them for the Pax Lodge library and it would be okay.

But then...well...a week before I came back to Canada, Megan came to stay overnight on her way back from Denmark and she offered to take an extra bag home for me. So I gave her a 40 lb backpack that was almost entirely BOOKS. More books.

See...the book collecting needed to be curbed!

So...the book diet is kind of working these days. I try not to go into bookstores anymore because I'm not entirely sure I could restrain myself. The thing about the book diet is that you don't actually lose books...and in the end, once I've read all those unread books, I'll actually get to start "gaining" books again!!!

EDIT FEBRUARY 3, 2009: The link to the Pax Lodge library no longer works. The Pax Lodge library is now the "Our World Lounge"

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