We all know what this is; either our friends or ourselves have it. It is a disease of the brain, a “gotcha” cell that links itself to your prefrontal cortex and stays there — for eternity. Muahahaha! (I’m working on my evil laugh.) There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it; we all love to be dazzled by a thrilling and gripping story from time to time. Some like this experience quite a bit while others… Well, others are simply obsessed with the idea of this experience. So, how do you know you have Book Obsessive Disorder?
1. Buying more books, knowing you have no more space.
Sometimes you can’t help but buy things. This is especially true of paperbound media. There is something about the book, about the smell, about the feel, about the aesthetics. Whatever it is, you are obsessed with purchasing books, even though you know you have no more space for them. You have bags of books. You have boxes of books. You have carts, crates, and drawers of books. Your shelves are filled with books — no, overflowing with books: you have books on books on books. You even go so far as to move things around — moving your DVDs/blu-rays around — to make space. I mean, one more book can’t hurt, right? You’ll find the space.
2. Claiming you’ll only spend 10 or 15 minutes in a bookstore, but end up spending an hour or more.
Every bookstore you pass is always an instantaneous stop; you have an uncanny sense of where bookstores are, and can, in essence, sniff them out almost immediately. Spidey senses activate! You talk to yourself before you get in the store, attempting to convince yourself you’ll only spend 10 or 15 minutes inside: you have places to go and things to do. Guess what? You’ve already spent an hour and a half in the store and didn’t even realize it. You lied to yourself. You were caught up perusing the list of books you are going to buy. You were sidetracked by the plethora of genres not explored, spines not cracked, stories not heard, authors not read. You were sucked into the abyss of the intrigue and the mystery of the bookstore, unsure of what you’ll find, unsure of what you’ll buy. Everything about the bookstore entices you; you can spend hours inside, even if you aren’t “intending” to buy anything, though who are you kidding? You and I both know you’re going to buy something.
3. Alternatively, going to a bookstore to buy one book, then walking away with anywhere between five and ten books — maybe more.
Maybe you did want to go to a bookstore. That’s cool. Maybe you did want to spend more than 10 of 15 minutes in a bookstore. That’s cool. Maybe you did want to purchase a book while you were there. Hey, that’s cool, too. But, whoa! Wait a minute. Now you’re walking out with five, ten books? What happened? Ah, I know: you couldn’t stop yourself, you couldn’t help it. First Sylvia Plath because she was on your list, but then you saw Bernhard Schlink because he was nearby. Then you traveled over to young adult literature and picked up The Perks of Being a Wallflower because you haven’t read it yet, then saw The Giver because you loved it in high school. Then you meandered through the aisles, picking up Jacques Derrida, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tennessee Williams, John Kennedy Toole, and James Joyce. All of a sudden, your measly one book turned into a hefty stack of ten. So much for moderation. Well, we all have indulgences and guilty pleasures.
4. Buying a book you’re unsure you have, only to realize you already have that book once you get home.
So, you bought a book or two — or ten — at the bookstore. That’s cool. Excited, you briskly make your way back to your house, thinking of how you’re going to fit these new finds. “It’s okay, I’ll make room,” you say to yourself. Of course you will, but…what’s that? You already own a copy of Milton’s Paradise Lost? Bummer. Oh, you already own a copy of Chopin’s The Awakening? Dang son. And you already own a copy of Bukowski’s Factotum? Man, that sucks. You should have double, maybe even triple checked the books you currently have before purchasing more. Sadly, this isn’t the first time you’ve done this — and you know this won’t be the last time. But hey, at least you have additional copies; they can be your mark-ups. Or, you can return them to buy other books. Yeah, let’s go with that plan — that’s a much better idea.
5. Not actually reading all of the books you’re constantly buying.
Although you have books on books on books, have you actually read all of them? Sure, you’ve read a handful of them — hell, perhaps you’ve read a couple of them multiple times. Let’s be honest though: have you really read every single book you’ve purchased? “Oh, I’ll get around to it,” “I’ll read them at some point,” “They’re on my reading list,” “I’m adding them to my GoodReads, so you know I’ll read them.” Yeah, you can come up with excuses for days, huh? I have no doubt you’ll read them in due time; however, you and I both know you’re purchasing all of these books to expand on your personal library. You’ve always dreamt of having a library bursting with authors and genres; that way, you can say you’re a voracious reader. Of course you love to read, but there’s no way you intend to read every book at the rate you’re purchasing them. Again, nothing wrong with this. Just accept what you have — Book Obsessive Disorder. No, you don’t need help; and, if you think you do, just go to a bookstore — I mean, therapy.