Saturday, September 7, 2013

Diagnosing Bibliophilosis...A Book Lover's Dilemma

"We read to know we are not alone."
- C.S. Lewis

Bibliophilosis* is not a diagnosed disease, but if you are a book lover, a bibliophile, you are at risk. Symptoms appear once you are traumatized by a lack of bookshelf space. Perhaps a move prompted meltdown. Boxing books and carrying loads to a new location. Not fun. Maybe you decided to simply simplify life, so some books have to go. You wouldn't take them in an emergency evacuation, would you? Perhaps your children are sleeping in the hall, and their rooms have been converted, even the crib, to crafty bookshelves and cozy library hideaways. You'll realize when you have a problem. It is time for an intervention.
Credit: Etsy
If you love to read and learn and hear stories, as I do, you will relate to some of these indications. If you do not, you are clearly not suffering from bibliophilosis. Curling up with a good book on a rainy day with a cup of something steamy (hot cocoa, coffee, or tea - your choice) would never come to mind. For true book lovers, a total mental picture and good feelings were just triggered by the words book and rainy day in the same sentence. So, look through this list of key symptoms, and see what speaks your truth.

  1. The Lie: I promise I won't buy one more book until I've read the others I own already.
  2. The Reality: I won't buy one more book until I hear about one that interests me. 
  3. The Challenge: (If, when you read non-fiction, you are a confessed chronic highlighter/margin note writer, this is for you.) When I've finished studying -- a.k.a. reading, then what? Now it is extra difficult to part with the book. Ugh. [Note: I've improved in this area since someone recently said to me, "I love seeing people's notes in a book!" - Homeland Security Agent. OK. It wasn't a snoop or Homeland Security Agent. But you never know, do you?] 
  4. The Fear: What if I give away this unread book sitting around, and then miss something good? Where will I ever find that nugget of wisdom, that engaging character, that page-turning suspense, that great how-to list to solve my problems if I give away the unread, shelf-space-hogging books on my "Read someday" shelf? [Oh, yes. The library. The Internet. For starters.] 
  5. The Inner Argument: My thoughts nag me. "Oh, sure, you're really going to read that someday,” mocking my sweet intentions year after year. After year. I sincerely vow to read that book. Soon. Maybe even this year. 
  6. The Tension: Just because I love books, that doesn't mean I want to marry them - commit to them for life. Parting with the good ones hurts just a little and sometimes it is downright stressful! Momentarily.
  7. The Choice: When the quantity of books owned exceeds shelf space, do I a) Get rid of some books, b) Buy more shelves, c) Sentence myself to purchase e-books from now on, or d) Other. 
  8. The Caution: I do not loan out my books. People never return them.
  9. The Guilt: I keep books I've inherited or been given by other people, even though I know I'll never read them, and the person who gave them is no longer in my life. Why? Why?
  10. The Creative Illusion: I buy books to simply safely store my bookmarks. [Unless, of course, you are a one book-at-a-time person. I've always admired those types, though it seems so controlled and dull and functional.]
  11. The Determination (Also known as Book Lover's Attention Deficit Dilemma): I will finish this book before I start another.
  12. The Dream: I wish I had a day all to myself just to read. And if, perhaps, it is a rainy day and there is a cozy fire to sit near, even better!
      Did you recognize any of the symptoms in yourself? If you identified yourself as a book lover, how do you balance your love for reading, the delight in owning a new, real, published, hold-in-your-hand book and your life? Is there any hope? Or will we all just die over-booked and content? Can you ever own too many books? Too many cats? Yes. We've heard stories about those folks. But too many books? Never.
      “I’d rather give up my husband than my books.” – Anonymous

      "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." 
      - Desiderius Erasmus

      *Treatment of bibliophilosis is currently not covered under most medical insurance plans. You'll have to pay for more bookshelves yourself.


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