Bookbuyers Anonymous?

They say the first step to getting over any addiction is admitting you have one, but what if you don't want to?

Take, for instance, what I consider to be the bane and joy of my cube-bound existence: The two Barnes and Noble stores flanking the route I take to and from the subway every morning come in a close second. And I love them. Love them love them love them. Without them I would be a hollow shell of myself. Pedestrian. Plebian. Dour.

The stacks of neat, crisp pages on the tables by the door of the Union Square B&N (we're on an initials-only basis these days), are more seductive than the finest intoxicant. Nothing is more indulgent than a leisurely stroll around the paperbacks, reading back cover copy, flipping through pages to assess the font, line spacing, print size. How long would this one take if I dedicated two hours every night? Or if I spent Saturday at the Tea Lounge with you instead of watching TV with my roommates, I ask a prim copy of "Postwar", a gargantuan tome chronicling everything that's happened in Europe since Hitler got the boot.

I admit I have a problem.

I own more books than I can count, and every time I move I aim to prune the collection and remove anything that hasn't seemed like a good idea in five years or more. This often ends up in towering jenga-like structures against a wall or on the back corner of my desk, teetering piles of paperbacks that are destined for the re-sale counter of the Strand on Fourth Avenue, but which tend to wind up right there. In a pile that stays well past it's sell-by date, and most likely makes it into my next round of brown-boxes and on to the next apartment.

It isn't just that I can't bring myself to get *rid* of books. I'm more likely to resist a martini or a (miraculous) glass of 2003 Stags Leap Wine Cellars cabernet than I am to resist clicking "move to cart" after reading a few pages of... Aristotle, Austin, pulp fiction, anything Penguin Classic, anything I'll need for book club (I'm in two) and then anything else I can justify sneaking into my own shopping cart as I prepare to click "buy"...

I even buy my book-club reads on separate trips so that I have an excuse to buy books twice a month. Two times! And it's never just one. So the shelf of the un-read grows more crowded and my guilt and shame become a darker cloud on my horizon. Not only have I spent more money that I could have given to my credit card company in exchange for my eventual freedom (the indentured servitude of the 21st century), I have more words, more thoughts, more great ideas, stacking up waiting for my lazy brain to get around to turning off American Idol and turning on a lamp, pouring myself a glass of wine or a cup of tea, and doing something other than obesssing over the things I don't know.


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