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Friday, February 02, 2007


Books Suck

My wife and I have a lot of books. I mean, we have several metric tons of books. These books are crammed into a small New York City apartment, which is not good. We've got bookshelves all over the goddamn place. We have books stacked up on most every surface in the place. We've got several stacks of books sitting precariously in the middle of the floor. We have too many books.

We come by it honestly. My wife got her undergrad degree in English. My theater degree required the purchase of a lot of books, too, although mine were mostly tiny little play scripts and I sold most of my other college reading because I always tended to be poor and lazy while I was in school. We both come from bookhound families. Her parents' house and my parents' house are both quite bookful, too.

We've done our best to pare down over the years. We've taken loads of books to sell at Strand, despite the hassle of lugging them on the subway and the embarrassment of dealing with the snotty Strand buyers who seem to get off on saying that you "don't have anything that interesting."

But no matter how many books we sell; no matter how many we dump off at the thrift store; no matter how many we throw at alley cats having sex outside our window at three in the morning, we're still left with a growing book problem.

We try vowing not to buy any new books. We put moratoriums (moritorii?) on ourselves periodically, but that tends to last only until we see a discount copy of Valley of the Dolls and think, "Hey! I haven't read that! And it's only four bucks!"

And so, once every year or so, one of us is struck by a thunderbolt and we remember the existence of the library. We'll be walking up to the register at the closest Giant Evil Discount Book Retailer with a stack of literature and my wife or I will think, "Wait a minute... I don't have to buy this. I could fucking read it for free!" Then we'll dump the books on the floor, spit on them and run from the store.

Which is why, after a narrow escape at Barnes & Noble last weekend, I spent some time this week on the NYC Public Library website and requested some stuff be held at the branch that's around the corner from us. Their uber-friendly computer called me up yesterday to tell me that some of my order was in, and so I'm currently reading Nobrow by John Seabrook.

And the really fucking great thing is that I don't like it all that much. It's okay, I guess, but it's just not as interesting as it looked when I glanced through it in the store. I have a decent track record of buying books I don't know much about and actually enjoying them a great deal. But, every once in awhile, you get stuck with a turd. Which is how I wound up trying to force myself to read The Autobiography of Santa Claus. Man, that one sucked ass.

But, because I paid for the goddamn thing, I felt like I had no option but to trudge through it. I finally gave up when King Arthur joined Santa and Mrs. Claus on their gift-giving travels around the globe. Don't ask.

With Nobrow, though, I don't have the same pressure. I can read as much or as little as I want. I could skip everything except the chapter on Star Wars. Which is what I'm probably gonna do. And then I'll dump it off back at the library and get something else! For free! Hurray for libraries!

Ooo...I have the same problem. I started to go thru my shelves last week to sell some back to the local bookstore but for some reason I always start waver that perhaps I'd love to "read that one again". *sigh* What's up with that? It's like the books are pets or something. "Oh, just one more!"

Our library has huge wait lists on many titles (small town, small county) so it's not as easy for me. Glad your solution is working! I need to just get tough and just rid of the whole kit and kaboodle.
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