Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Thursday, August 19, 2004
Hello, my name is Maureen
and I'm a biblioholic.

I'd estimate I've been a biblioholic for, well, most of my life--at least since I was five. In third grade, I'd sneak Baby-Sitters Club books under my desk during spelling tests and read during the breaks between words. When I'm desperate, I'll read practically anything to get my fix--crappy magazines, the "Thrifty Nickel" want ads, fanfic, even (oh! the shame!) the pages from the "Look Inside" feature at Amazon. Sometimes, after I go a few weeks when I've done relatively little reading (just an average of 100 pages/day for school, and an hour or two or three on the Internet per day--really not that much), I go on a book bender. Last bender, about a week ago, I gulped through two novels in about six hours. Granted, one was a reread, and in the other one I skipped some parts, but still. Man, did that wreck my system.

Although I've never gone to the extreme of buying a book in triplicate, I have been known to read entire books while sitting in a bookstore (I'm so cheap, and I feel guilty when I spend money on books when I don't need them); I've checked out books which I own but do not have with me out of the library (hey, I used White Smoke to brush up on my papal politics); I have read The Well of Lost Plots when I should have been writing a paper on the German welfare state. I have unintentionally ignored family and friends while reading, and I have (gasp!) read while on the job.

But is this addiction comparable to alcoholism? I don't think so--while I admit to being rather heavily attached to books, and even fit the Baudian Biblioholic Criteria*, I've never caused anyone any pain through this addiction. I've never neglected family, friends, work or school because of reading, I've never gone into debt for my addiction, and I can resist the call to books when absolutely necessary. [UPDATE: Will Baude points out that harm to others is not a requisite part of alcoholism. This misperception gives alcoholism a stigma which biblioholism doesn't have--even though both drinking and reading are dangerous during driving**. I'd still argue that alcoholism is more likely to cause harm to others than biblioholism, but that's really an argument of probability, not of quality.]

Although it's a telling sign that when I tried to find a "peaceful place" during meditation, I felt restless on a beach, next to a mountain spring, in a prairie--but felt at ease when I placed myself at Harper Memorial Library.

*Excepting the "interfering with social engagements"
**A friend once told me that on long Interstate trips through the plains, her dad would put the car on cruise control and read. I'm not sure what the effect of Books on Tape on driving is, but at least it leaves one's vision free.

Comments: Post a Comment