I’ve got a problem, and while it’s a common one, and even enjoyable, it is, nonetheless, a problem.
Too many people give and/or lend me books.
I’m sure you’ve been there, if you are one inclined to reading and writing, you often find yourself in conversation with others who enjoy those things as well. You get excited, exchanging genres, authors, and titles you found mutual enjoyment in. Loving to read is a wonderful gift, one that only those whose minds open up to a page of well written prose would understand.
But there is a flip side to this enjoyment, and that is that there are always more books to read. You find yourself neck deep in a spectacular narrative and while you’re there, two of your favorite authors release books, another best seller catches your eye, you find a used copy of a book you’ve been meaning to pick up since high school, and everyone you’ve every spoken with about reading is also there, pressing into your overflowing arms yet another story they “just know you’ll love”.
Of course, recommendations have given me more beloved stories then not; I was recommended Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone in December of ’98, two months after it’s Stateside release, and before the rest of the world had caught Wizard Fever. Raymond E. Fiest’s excellent Riftwar Saga was given to me with high praise, and rightly so, A Darkness at Sethanon is still one of my favorite fantasy novels, some fifteen years after the initial read through. Garth Nix, Robert McCammon, Laurel K. Hamilton, and Christopher Moore were all introduced to me by friends, lovers, and acquaintances who wanted to share the joy of a good read.
It is wonderful, having someone read a tale you have shared with them. It is the closest we can get to reading each others hearts and minds, a way to hand someone a physical object and say, without words, “This shaped me, this is part of who I am” and if they enjoy it as well, we are jubilant. If they do not, we are confused, hurt, even angry, as if they have taken that small piece of ourselves we gave so freely and they told us it wasn’t to their liking.
And so, I have found myself with a problem, the problem of too many books, which isn’t really a problem, and if we’re honest, it’s one I’ve been coping with since I entered adult life and found that the world would not simply allow me to read for eleven hours straight. But besides my constant waiting list, I now have people who are expecting me to read what I have been given, as if by assignment, and I am learning that I will have to start saying no, though it pains me to do so, at least when it comes to stories. Because, after all, it is a part of themselves they are sharing, and that is a pure form of pleasure, giving what you have so that others can find happiness in it as well.
But reading is an extension of writing, and there are things I need to read so that I may write with their bookish DNA now flowing though my veins. I rarely speak with people in my day to day life of my writing, because it bleeds the life from it, but this leads them to believe I have more free time then I have actually allotted myself.
Like I said, it’s an enjoyable problem, and I am glad for the opportunity to speak with the occasional book worm, as my job mostly caters to… the not-so-literary inclined, and none of my co workers have touched a book since high school. But, still, it’s a problem.