The Book Life

The Struggle

May 17, 2009
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I wasn’t going to do it.

Buy books, that is. I wasn’t going to. I wasn’t going to buy any books this year.

I won’t have time to read them; I won’t make time to read them in the face of library deadlines; I should only buy books I’ve already read, so I already know they’re good; my bookshelf is already full and there are two boxes in the basement; I won’t get to them before law school, and then I’ll have to cart them to Indiana with me; the library is free!

But I have a job right now, I can afford a few; it’ll be a memento from this trip; this is one of my favorite writers; her reading was so good, I have own her books; these are on sale; they’re just so pretty!

It’s a desperate battle. I’ve been fairly victorious, using gift cards, receiving books as gifts, only buying used or on sale – until last week. Last week was the Spring Literary Festival at OU. It’s one of my favorite things. I took a day off work to go down, and managed to fit in six events.

Six is a smaller number than the number of books I bought. Only two of them were significantly on sale, two others, not so much. Four were solidly full-price. I am weak.

But it isn’t entirely my fault. Sidewalk sales are unavoidable; I don’t even have to walk inside, and my most traditional defense is the not-walking-into-the-store-in-the-first-place. But there they were. In boxes. With tempting percentages boldly discounting what I already want. And if Maggie Nelson weren’t such a great poet, I wouldn’t have had to buy four of her books immediately following her reading.  And if Dan Chaon hadn’t come to OU and given a hilarious reading when I was a student there, I wouldn’t have been so thrilled to see two of his story collections out there on the sidewalk.

***

Moving on.

The eight books I bought are sitting on the edge of my overflowing bookshelf, in the space formerly occupied by library-books-to-be-returned. (I have a complex organizational system for my bookshelf. Maybe someday I’ll take a picture.)

Three days before this shameful buying spree, I visited the library. Instead of just picking up whichever of my reserved books or movies had arrived, I wandered the aisles. DANGER. I came home with four novels.

I am never going to get through this.

However – I started Something Bright, With Holes by Maggie Nelson over the weekend, and it’s brilliant. Something in the way she writes just rings inside my head over and over and over and over. I can’t stop reading it.