Sunday, March 4, 2012


I'm a bookaholic - no secret there. You can find my recent reading list on Shelfari and more favorites at Barnes & Noble. Recently my friend Kelsey Browning blogged at Wordplay about the benefits of reading deprivation as a sort of cleansing process. The thought of going even a day without reading gave me chills, and not in a good way.

As a kid, I often got in trouble at school for having an open book in my lap, hidden by my desk. At home, I drove my mom nuts by sneaking a flashlight into bed and reading under the covers. If there wasn't a book handy, I'd read cereal boxes. 

Since I was the oldest child, our house wasn't full of kids' books when I was little. That happened gradually, as my brother and I were allowed to get books from Scholastic and Weekly Reader Book Clubs. My allowance went to Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books. Later, I used babysitting money to subscribe to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. My first "real" paychecks in high school supported my book club habit: Literary Guild, Mystery Book Club, Doubleday Book Club, the History Book Club and the Paperback Book Club. Even later, I subscribed to Harlequin, Silhouette Special Edition and Candlelight Ecstasy Romance book clubs - and more.

I also went to libraries a lot, and never left a used book sale without at least a bag of books. My husband shares my love of books, even if he's not quite the reading addict I am, so our date nights frequently take us to bookstores - and cafe's IN bookstores. Not a week goes by that I don't buy at least a few books. Hell, on average, I might even buy a book a day. (My husband is nodding vigorously.) And I'm lucky enough to get books from publishers and authors, too. I have a huge to-be-read pile (we're talking hundreds of books) in paper, and a whole lot waiting to be read on my Nook, too.

But it never struck me how much I need to read until yesterday. My husband and I were out running errands when our car battery died. Luckily we belong to triple-A, so all it took was a phone call to arrange for help. We were told a serviceman would be with us in twenty minutes or so.

Since we'd only planned on being out a short time, I had left the house without Nook or book. Well. Twenty minutes. Easy peasey, right?

Two minutes later I started to get antsy. My husband, playing with his iPod, was cool and calm. I fidgeted, watching another minute tick away on the clock. Fidget, fidget. My husband didn't say anything, but I think I saw his eyebrows raise. Apparently, I have the attention span of a five-year-old.

I eyed my purse. When was the last time I cleaned it out? Went through the surprisingly clean make-up bag. (Yes, I travel with a make-up bag at all times, because you never know when you'll need mascara. And a roller-ball perfume or three.) Dug a few old receipts out of the bottom and stuck them in a side-pocket for disposal later. Found a relatively new pack of gum - opening that took another ten seconds or so.

The zip pockets - rats - must have been cleaned out the last time I switched purses. Nothing to occupy me there. Then I pulled out my wallet and struck gold. Amazingly, there were five insurance cards in there, all seemingly identical. 

"I don't suppose I really need all of these, do I?"

My husband took them from me, squinting at the small print. "Some of these are bound to be old."

"Don't worry about it," I said, as he put on his reading glasses. "No biggie."

"No, now I'm curious," he said. "You've hooked me on the mystery."

A few seconds later he muttered, "Aha!" and pointed to the printing dates in tiny numbers on the back. 

Huh. A couple of those cards went back 2009 - who knew?

After that I dug out three expired Garden Writers Association membership cards, a Lancome discount coupon that expired two years ago, and business cards for every hairdresser I've ever visited. I stuck a bunch of those in the discard pile (the side pocket of the purse). Another five minutes had passed.

I pulled out the credit cards. I was squinting at the small print on the back, when my husband laughed.

"What?" says I.

"Look at you - you're reading credit cards!" He shook his head. "I knew you were addicted to reading, but I never knew you were this addicted."

Assuming an air of nonchalance, I put the credit cards away, dropping my wallet back into the dark depths of my purse. 

That's when the triple-A guy pulled up.

Now, honestly, I don't see a problem here. I made constructive use of my time and now have a much more organized purse.

But I'll tell you one thing. I'm not leaving this house in future unless either the Nook or a book is in the bottom of my purse. And I never go anywhere without my purse.

I think Kelsey's idea of the no-reading cleanse probably has merit. I'm pretty sure I'll never find out.


William and Anna Patterson said...

I really enjoyed this article. I am a compulsive reader from way back. I have always been willing to read almost anything. Still do at times, when I can. But I love the way you explained this dilemma. I bet it could be any of us, for sure.

Jess Lane said...

I completely understand. I used to read the cereal boxes on my grandma's table in the mornings because she wouldn't let me bring a book to the table. :)

Becke Davis said...

Anna - I'm glad you enjoyed it - I figured other bookaholics would relate!

I should probably mention I also spent some time reading text messages I'd missed from my sisters. My phone isn't entertaining - it's a phone and it takes pictures, that's it. My husband's phone, on the other hand, does it all!

Becke Davis said...

Jess - Yes!!! One reason I've been married so long is my husband and I both like to read at the table. On the other hand, I'd be a lot skinnier if we enforced a rule forbidding it.

Jennifer Tanner said...

Omigosh, I'd be the same way if I had to wait with nothing to read! When I used to commute to work, I kept magazines in the car because traffic could come to a complete halt if there was an accident on the bridge. As for cleaning out your purse...well, there's a reason why I don't switch handbags very often!

Becke Davis said...

Jen - I know what you mean! I have all these cute purses but I keep using my plain old black leather one. It goes with everything, and I can't be bothered to switch. I usually change purses once a season. If I did it more often, I could justify getting more cute purses!

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