I love books. I should clarify that. I still adoreprint books. I have yet to succumb to the convenience and other advantages of a Nook or a Kindle. There is just something about a well-designed book cover, feeling the heft of a book, leafing through it, reading passages at random, and scanning the blurbs and testimonials.
I am addicted to books. I enjoy being surrounded by them, relaxing on my couch across from the bookshelves in my wall unit which is jammed with books on various subjects, of various sizes and shapes. The randomness of it makes for a pleasing sight. As the time I’ve lived in my one-bedroom apartment has lengthened, I’ve had to become creative about where I store my books, for once I’ve acquired one, I don’t let it go. I’ve bought additional bookshelves and found non-traditional nooks and crannies in which to place them.
I’ve set self-imposed limits and broken them. Me, set loose in a bookstore echoes a gourmet picking from a menu of her favorite cuisine. I make lists of books I need until I have enough to qualify for amazon.com’s free shipping.
My apartment is now overrun with books I have not yet read. I have run out of room on my bookshelves and the books are piled up haphazardly on various small side tables, and even the floor. Here is a random sampling and my thoughts behind each purchase (in no particular order):
- “Are You My Mother?” by Alison Bechdel – I have mother issues (who doesn’t?) and this would be my first graphic memoir. I was not allowed to read comic books as a child (by my father). Maybe I should read Bechdel’s other graphic memoir, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” about her relationship with her father.
- “Rapt” by Winifred Gallagher. I bought this for 50% off at a Border’s going-out-of business sale. It’s about how the key to happiness is living a focused life. Seemed relevant at the time. Probably still is.
- “The Art of Creative Nonfiction” by Lee Gutkind. This is my genre and he is the guru. Need I say more?
- “The Addict” by Michael Stein. I’m an addict in more than one sense of the word and a sucker for reality stories. This is the doctor following the story of his patient. Should make for interesting reading if you’re into that kind of thing. Which I am.
- "Book of Days” by Emily Fox Gordon. This is a collection of personal essays. I bought this when I was working on my first book, Penetrating Madness which was originally intended to be a collection of essays as well. But that didn’t work out. I still may read it…
- “Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude” by Emily White. When I bought this I was much lonelier than I am now. I still want to read it though.
- “The Peep Diaries” by Hal Niedzviecki. A friend recommended this. The subtitle is “How we’re learning to love watching ourselves and our neighbors.” Probably towards the bottom of the pile in urgency.
- “Fear of Flying” by Erica Jong. A classic, a must-read for any woman. I’m just a little, well, a lot delayed in this particular area of my development. There is a reason for it.
- “Franny and Zooey” by J.D. Salinger. Another classic. This volume without a book jacket was a gift from a guy I met online. We had been chatting (online) for about a month before we met and he brought this as a gift on our first date. For our second date he expected me to f*#k him. But I don’t burn books.
- “A Brain Wider Than The Sky: A Migraine Diary” by Andrew Levy. First, love the title. Second, I read an excerpt of this in a magazine and knew I had to have it. I am a fellow migraine sufferer, of the frequent and severe variety. This is at the top of the list.
- “The Long Goodbye: a memoir” by Meghan O’Rourke. This is a memoir about the author’s losing her mother to cancer and coming to terms with her grief. I lost my mother to cancer and when I started this book, I thought I had dealt with my grief. Apparently I haven’t, because I couldn’t get through the first chapter. But I will, someday.
- Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer’s Life” by Michael Greenberg. Michael (yes, Michael) wrote a book titled “Hurry Down Sunshine,” an account of his adolescent’s daughter’s psychotic break, which is excellent. He was also my workshop instructor this past summer (hence the familiarity) at a six-day intensive writing conference at Sarah Lawrence College in Westchester, NY. At the faculty reading he read one of the pieces from this book and OMG, the audience was transfixed. Also at the top of the list.
- “Powder Dreams” by David Ward-Nanney. You might have noticed that all these books are non-fiction. I’m not a big reader of fiction; this is the one novel lying-in-wait in the pile. It’s (more than) a ski novel where the protagonist enters a Jungian analysis (go figure). Then again, I am a psychotherapist.
- “Dirt: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House” edited by Mindy Lewis. This book is a compilation of essays on the authors’ relationships with dirt, written in a variety of tones – humorous, poignant, edgy, revelatory. Mindy (yes, Mindy) is my writing instructor at the YMCA in Manhattan and she has had a tremendous influence on my writing. Her first book, “Life Inside” detailing a part of her adolescence spent in a psychiatric hospital is excellent. I think I’m afraid to read Dirt because I might see myself in its pages.
- “Your Voice In My Head” by Emma Forest. One of my worst nightmares come true. This woman is in therapy and her therapist dies in the midst of treatment. What did she do? What would I do?
So that’s a random sampling. There are more, but I won’t drone on. One more book that I must mention is the one that I'm currently reading, “Quiet; The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. I consider introversion as being on a continuum and I rank myself as about an 8 if a 10 is the most introverted one can be. This book (I am about ¾ through it) has made me realize – and I am extremely grateful – that introversion is not a character flaw, not something to be embarrassed by. If you consider yourself even a bit of an introvert, you must read this book and if you are an extrovert, educate yourself.I am sitting on my couch very early this morning, it is still dark outside and these books are strewn around me in random, messy piles. I am drinking my morning coffee and I am deliriously happy. What a way to start the day!