It's nothing new. This particular problem has been my "friend" for many years - and, perhaps in some ways, has become more demanding and more unkind than at the first, when one would think the opposite to be true.
You see, I'm addicted to books. I wish it was simply the harmless and even enlightening pleasure of reading more than I ought. But it's become more...so much more...than that.
Because I collect books.
The fact that I began winning online book giveaways years back only increased the urge.
The fact that I started book reviewing and receiving books for free only increased the urge.
The fact that ebooks are cheaper and deals are more prevalent has only increased the urge.
The fact that I now work for a publisher and have access to books day in and day out has only increased the urge.
And it's time I accept the fact that the urge isn't going to go away with just one more book.
It never has, and it never will.
This creepy guy visited me one day during lunch at work. No, I'm not a fan of snakes. But the "sneakiness" and "slipperiness" associated with him fits the subversive attitudes I've been buying into, so here you go.
I think it started with this wish to have just one or two books more than the one I was currently reading, so they could grace my desk and I would know I'd have more to look forward to after I finished. The collecting began in earnest in high school, and it's gotten progressively worse, to the point where I neglect all the nice unread books in boxes and have to have "just a few" truly new ones at hand. I browse Amazon like a gambler visits all the flashy slot machines.
I take my limited and valuable time, insert it into the Internet, and lose. Repeatedly.
And I never quite seem to learn my lesson.
These thoughts, as specifically pertaining to books, might not be meant for you. There's obviously a world of difference between someone who views books in a positive way and balances their time, money, and attention wisely - and someone who obsessively collects books like an end-times conspiracy theorist collects emergency materials for an event they can never predict.
I think I just needed to take this moment to step back and recognize my downward spiral, and the fact that it isn't changing despite all the other life changes I've gone through with moving, becoming independent, and navigating a new job. I have to realize several things.
1. Like with any other addiction, I need to acknowledge that it's unhealthy. I don't have as much time as I used to now that I'm working an 8-5 job - and even if I did, do I really want to spend SO much of the limited time I've been given trying to decide on another book I really shouldn't buy, when I've gone over the same options over and over again?
2. Like with any other addiction, I need help. I can't change this habit without God's strength and grace. And maybe just posting this publicly and knowing that you all are aware of my problem will help me to have a greater sense of accountability. Perhaps I even need to take that accountability thing a step further...
3. Like with any other addiction, I need to get to the root of the problem. I'm not sure I can completely diagnose myself, but the way I see it, I'm being ungrateful. Insecure. Untrusting. I spend more time looking at the books that I don't yet have than reading the books I actually do have. I worry that I'll run out of reading material, that I'll come to a point where nothing that I own sounds good to me. And I don't trust God to meet that need.
It's not a "need" like other needs, but God knows this desire of my heart, to always have stories to immerse myself in. To lose myself in the gorgeous artwork of a cover, the feel of a collection of words in my hands, the engagement and inspiration that comes from being a part of another story.
Does that mean there won't come a day when I'll lose all my books and have nothing to read? No, there are no guarantees. In fact, I know someday that will happen, because I'm not taking my books with me to heaven.
But that yearning in me for beauty, for story, for purpose - God can more than fulfill those needs, and He has blessed me tremendously already with more books to enjoy than any one girl could ever hope to own. And I misuse those gifts by having an improper attitude about it all.
I still have a problem.
I know writing this post isn't going to magically erase these tendencies in me. I'm not saying I have all the answers, or that suddenly I'm going to approach reading and book-buying in the right and healthy way from this moment on. But by writing my thoughts down...gaining some perspective and facing the truth...it's a step. One I think I needed to take.
More thoughts to come...