Sunday, June 9, 2013

i am a bookaholic

It started when I was twelve years old. It was during summer vacation and my best friend then took me to the public library. I was the kind of kid who stayed home so I discovered places only when people took me to them. I was thrilled to find out I could get my own library card without much fuss. I did and that was the beginning.

Being twelve, I started off with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. But those quickly ran out because I was a voracious reader. I read two to three books in a day or two and I had to go to the library at least thrice a week during the summer and twice during schooldays.

I began venturing into bookstores and touching the shiny brand new books on the shelves. I began smelling books and loved both new-book-smells and old-book-smells. When I was in high school, I asked that my Christmas and birthday gifts be books. Brand new ones from the bookstore. The librarians in the public library became fond of me, and waved away fines and gave me extensions and most especially, allowed me to take out more books than was permitted.

In college I was fortunate to get into a university with a very impressive library. I became its denizen and the librarians there also gave me the same privileges. I used up three to four library cards in a single semester.

Any extra money I saved up from my allowances I used to buy books.

When I started working, I spent a lot of money on books. At one point I had more than a thousand crammed in the tiny bedroom that I shared with my sister in the small apartment where I lived with my family.

I would buy books almost every week. Not just from bookstores with their brand new volumes but also from second-hand book shops. Then the internet happened and I discovered an online auction site for books and I outbid everyone else on the books I wanted. The owner of that site eventually became a very good friend.

Sometime in 1999 I sold off more than half of my book collection to fund a trip.

Two years later I moved to a higher-paying job and was able to replenish my personal library. It was even more intense that time, the book-buying, for the books took the place of everything else that work did not consume. Books became my lifeline to sanity.

Eight years later I quit the job that had been eating up my life and then I started selling off my books again to raise funds to sustain a freelancer's life. Now I wish I had been more discerning because there were titles I wish I never sold.

Three years later I began the process of recovering the books I had lost and adding new ones that feed my rediscovered passions. My library today has about 500-600 books, including those in my Kindle.

In the past three years I have simplified my lifestyle to the point that I have significantly reduced my monthly spendings and have channeled my retail therapy to just three things: books, writing materials, and art materials.

I particularly enjoy fantasy, fairy tales, mythology, basically anything with magic and supposedly impossible things. I also like a bit of philosophy and psychology. I like books on writing and poetry - Susan Wooldridge, Anne Lamott, Ann Patchett. I like the occasional chick lit and I like inspirational books along the lines of Julia Cameron, Zen, Anna Johnson, Paulo Coelho. I have favorites among the classics : Jane Austen's novels, Sherlock Holmes, the mysteries of Agatha Christie. I like food and travel books : Ruth Reichl, M.F.K. Fisher, Jamie Oliver.

In authors I absolutely love Neil Gaiman. Then there's Nick Bantock, Barbara Hodgson -- writers who are also artists. I love Sarah Addison Allen.  Joseph Campbell is right up there with Neil.

I admire bloggers who have become authors -- Holly Becker and Grace Bonney.

There are many others but I don't want to make this a very long list. I will write about most of them anyway as I read through the days.

My latest book loot is from yesterday, when I stepped out to air myself after being cooped up for two days because I was ill. I wandered into the secondhand bookshop in the supermarket and walked out with these:

The Ethnography book is just a geeky thing for me because it is part of what I do to earn a living. And it is ridiculously cheap at Php50.

The Dante Club is something I have been curious about and the copy was in very good condition for only Php148. I plan to read the original Dante before reading this one to enhance my appreciation.

The School Of Essential Ingredients is hardbound and I have a sample of it in my Kindle and it is on my to-buy list. I paid less than half for what it would cost me to purchase it on Kindle. A great bargain indeed.

This week alone I spent twice on books. But I don't splurge on anything else. No more clothes and shoes I would only wear once. No more wasteful time and money spent with pseudo-friends. No more unnecessary products in the grocery cart. Yes, it is all about books, writing, and art now. But most especially books.

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