A tale of libraries and book addiction

When I was a kid we used to go to the library quite often, but as I grew up I stopped going so often.  But rather than stop reading I simply started buying lots of books to read.

Then, many years later, I got married and my wife discovered my book addiction – I was probably buying a new book every week or two. 

“At least”, I told her, “I am no longer reading them all.  I can proudly say that I own many books that I have only read a small part of”.

I was proud of this because I used to have an even worse condition than book addiction – the compulsion to finish reading everything I started, even if it turned out to be dreadful.

On rare occasions I would be surprised by a twist at the end and my long slog of reading would be justified.  But more often than not I was only reading the book because I felt I should do so.  Or I was leaving piles of books next to my bed that were not finished (nor likely to ever be finished) because I didn’t think I could put them away unread. 

So it was a big moment for me when I rebelled against my guilt in not finishing a book and then openly and proudly stated that I would never waste my potential reading time again on anything I didn’t find interesting.

Originally these unread books served some purpose when they sat on a bookshelf impressing my friends with all the books I read (or might one day read).  But over time I had taken to putting the books in boxes and storing them out of sight. 

So the unpurchased, unread books really just sat in a box, being hidden from any readers who might actually enjoy reading them. I guess I was providing a service to society by removing the boring books from view so that nobody would get stuck reading them, but I am not sure this was really worth the money and effort I was expending.

My wife then reminded me that I can outsource all this storage and save a fortune by joining a library.  So I grudgingly went back to the boring old library – but with the warning that when I had partly read all the books in the library that interested me I would go back to buying and partly reading my own books.

But as it turns out the library near us has a LOT of interesting books for me to read or partly read and I am still trying to get through them all.

And yet I missed buying books.  So I started to sneak out and buy my own books on top of the many that I get from the library.  I even bought a Kobo ebook reader to give myself an excuse to buy more books.

But it turned out that the Kobo came with 100 books for free (many boring but some interesting).  So that slowed me down for a while.  I read Machiaveli, Lewis Carol and other authors I have been meaning to read for a long time.

Then my wife discovered that the library also has a collection of ebooks that can be read on my Kobo (in both e-something format which works well or in PDF format that sucks) or on my computer (good for technical books but not for real reading).

Now I can sit at home and browse dozens of in an hour and the settle down to read any one of them until I get bored.  Or I can go to the effort of downloading a book and then I can take it everywhere.  I now rarely travel without 100 books in my coat or satchel.

And yet I still feel the need to buy a new book every now and then.  I just need to stay one step ahead of the library because they seem to be somehow staying one step ahead of me all the time.

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About James King

I coach organisations in how to better make use of the untapped talent they have in their people and to explore new ways of understanding and solving new and old problems I live in Sydney with my wife and daughter and have no real hobbies beyond the usual boring ones of reading, writing and watching tv.
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