Hi. My name is Elizabeth, and I’m a bookaholic.
I hit rock bottom about 10 years ago when I escorted two clipboard-wielding real estate appraisers through my house. At one point they stopped for a whispered sidebar, and then turned to me. What was it? Did they see termites? Did they hate the paint?
“We’ve never seen so many books outside of a library before,” which is Appraisers’ Speak for, “Your house looks like an episode of Crazy Librarians Meet the Series Finale of Hoarders.”
Guilty as charged, Your Honor.
I started my habit at age 4, driven by the example of my own addicted mother who would whimsically declare “Bring Your Books to Dinner” night and all seven of us would eat, not speaking, with our noses jammed in our respective tomes. Years later I realized that BYBTD Night always coincided with a book she couldn’t bear to put down.
Well played, mom. Well played.
Like a good junkie, I have hauled my paraphernalia with me over the years, accumulating a notable stash of paperbacks and hard cover novels and textbooks that fill the bookcases that line my walls.
So this autumn, as I anticipate a remodeling adventure (coming to a newspaper near you soon as “new column ideas”) I am faced with the book lover’s version of “Sophie’s Choice:” which beloved manuscripts will I move to a new bookcase? Which ones will be consigned to donations? Which ones will I store, only to have them emerge years later, blinking in the bright light of a new day on the off chance that I still might want to read “You Can Solve The Rubik’s Cube!” from 1983?
It’s estimated that there are no fewer than 520 “Star Trek” book titles in print today, and I’m guessing that I have at least 300 of them. (Note to self: find out which ones you don’t have and buy them! Another note to self: Are you listening to yourself? You’re trying to purge, not buy more! Yet another note to self: Ignore that, because I’m a book lover, Jim, not a logician).
There’s the entire “Outlander” oeuvre, a fabulous series that combines bodice-ripping high jinx with science fiction set in the madcap hilarity of the Second Jacobean Revolution. There’s a pile of Stephen King, accumulated before I realized that they made me afraid of the dark; calculus textbooks from college; certification workbooks from 1999.
Oh, I’m certified, all right. Certifiable, in fact.
You might ask: Have you heard of this newfangled thing called an eBook, Elizabeth, it being the 21st century and all?
Why yes! I still haven’t mastered the science behind reading two books simultaneously, but much to the delight of the fine folks at Amazon and the people who hold my overworked credit card, I can readily BUY two books at a time. Or three, she said quietly, so her husband won’t hear. When I find an interesting title, and baby, there is no combination of written words that is not interesting, up to and including the back of a ketchup bottle, now I can be instantly gratified, to the point where I’m pretty sure they’re going to find me some day sprawled on the ground with a Kindle glowing dimly by my head.
And a smile on my face.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.