Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Book Binger's Separation Anxiety


I'm going back to cowledge this Saturday Caturday and I haven't packed my underwear or toothbrush or rice cakes yet. I have packed all my books.

I don't get it. They're heavy; I'll never have the time to read/re-read them what with all the reading I'll be doing for classes, essay writing, working, and manuscript revisions. Also, socializing. If you don't socialize in cowledge it can be pretty unbearable. Still though, I packed up my Steinbeck boxset, my Faulkner boxset, complete collections of O'Connor, all the Palahniuks and Heims and McCarthys and Oates and about twenty or so more novels that simply CANNOT be left behind. Am I crazy?

There's such a safety in these books, such a gathering of home. They're all kind of my friends, I guess. They're your grandmother's pillow you took after her funeral. They're your mother's perfume when you're all grown up and she's gone, but boy does that smell take you back. Does this make sense? Am I dumb?

When a friend saw all my piled books they said, "When will you ever have time for casual reading?"

I hate the phrase "casual reading" and if anyone ever uses it to describe my manuscript when it grows up to be a novel (I've decided that WILL happen) I might cry. No reading should be casual. Fiction must be jarring, has to grab you by the neck and rattle you to a world away from your living room so that you can understand your living room.

All novels must not only abduct you to be a success, they must also bring to you Stockholm Syndrome.

What's casual about that?

Thanks for reading,


  1. You are so right, there is nothing casual about reading!

    I don't keep physical copies of many books - only a few of my favorites. The rest I give away. But I love having those special books around me; they're one of the first things I unpack after a move, because they make wherever I am feel like home.

  2. Way to spread the love, BJ! I'm not so gracious. I won't even lend my books lest someone dog-ear a page, crack the spine, and dare I even say it... write in notes.

  3. Well, "normal people" will never understand us and our need to bring our "casual" friends with us! Like you said, for me, it also sort of provides a type of comfort, almost like a security blanket! It's hard to leave them behind.

  4. I just finished packing books myself and, having read this post, I now feel a bit ashamed of myself because I only packed seven books (excluding all of the books that I will need for my classes), three of which I have already finished but chose to pack so that I can remind myself to review them on Goodreads someday. The truth is that last year I too had brought with me quite a plethora of wonderful books, only to watch the majority of them depressingly collect dust on my shelf until it was time to move out of my dorm. So I don't want to do that to myself again. This time around, I decided to "be realistic" while packing my books. I could be making a mistake though. Only time will tell, I guess. And if I do find myself longing for the company of a stocked bookshelf, there will be plenty of ebooks to read.

    Also, I prefer the terms "pleasure reading" and "recreational reading" as opposed to "casual reading." Another good term is, you know, "reading."

  5. Oh geez, I wish I had your restraint. I just shoved ten more books (one of which was a hardcover copy of Gone with the Wind) into plastic bags that had pens and pencils blah blah blah in it. I already have 17 books for classes and add double if not more. SIGH. I lack self control. At least I didn't pack any booze.