Thursday, March 10, 2005

Anyone Got A Spare Brain and Some Extra Eyes?

Normally I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to reading. One book at a time. Mostly this is because I don’t have a lot of time to read, so one book is plenty (that whole ‘you’re not man enough for two books!”). I’ll start a book and if I don’t discard it after a few chapters as being hopeless, I’ll plod through like the tortoise, slow and steady until it’s done. The keepers – and it’s how I know a book is a keeper for me – might require only a 24-hour period from start to finish. Other books can take weeks if I’m especially busy. Regardless, I only have one story going at a time.

Actually, I should amend that. Sometimes I’ll have more than one book started at the same time, but usually one of the two is a lesser offering and therefore easy to ignore. I keep it in the car for reading while in the school pick-up line or to grab when I have to go into the DMV and wait six hours for my drivers license renewal. But at any given moment I can toss it to the side and forget about it for days/weeks/months. Sometimes I never even finish it at all. It’s the paperback equivalent of those magazines at the dentist or doctor’s office.

Anyway, right now I’m in the middle of two books I’m really enjoying. I’d started reading An Assembly Such as This by Pam Aidan but didn’t have it with me when I had to take my son to the McDonald’s playland after he very sweetly ran a bunch of annoying errands with me. Not willing to subject myself to the hell that is a Mickey-D’s playland without aid of alcoholic substances or reading materials, we swung by the UBS where I picked up a copy of Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome To Temptation. (Sidebar here to assure Ms. Crusie that I have recently purchased at least half a dozen of her re-released titles brand spanking new and only the direness of my situation would inspire me to cheat her out of her well-deserved income, I swear.) I started WTT and was quickly drawn in, and now I’m faced with making a choice. Do I want to read about Mr. Darcy’s secret pinings for Elizabeth Bennet or do I want to find out how soon Sophie and Phin will let the heat between them turn into an inferno? Gack! It’s like deciding between mint chocolate chip and mocha almond fudge.

Problem is, I don’t think I can afford the one-book-at-a-time habit any more because my current TBR shelf has some 75 books on it. I took the time to list them all in a spreadsheet because it made me feel organized. Plus I love to check things off of lists so I figured this would give me one hell of a high. Since I have so many books needing to be read and some bizarre feeling that I should read them all soon, I’m in a self-induced tizzy. Add to it all the fact that many of these books I’m just dying to read and I’m kind of wishing I had an extra brain or two and a couple spare pairs of eyes. You know, like a cow has four stomachs? Wouldn’t that be great? Read two or three books at the exact same time?

What I need to do – really need to do – is stop buying any more books until I finish the ones I have. Gads, I hope my hubby doesn’t read this! He’d pass out. “You mean you buy more books when you have SEVENTY-FIVE that you haven’t read yet?!!” He thinks those shelves just get magically filled by the book fairies. In my defense, it has taken me several years to compile this impressive TBR pile, and a good portion of the books were picked up at half price or less at the USB because they are old, out-of-print treasures that I stumbled across and snatched up like a Snickers bar on a fat farm.

Even so, he’d never understand the appeal of glomming. Yesterday, at Kmart, I saw a copy of Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley. I’m sure I read this a million years ago but I have no idea when or what it’s about or anything at all. But it’s a classic. I want to reread it. So zip, into the basket it went. (And at only $3.74, it’s a steal!). Or if I read a great review about a book and happen to see it, I’ll snatch it up. After all, what would I do if it wasn’t available when I finally had an open slot in my reading schedule? I want it at my fingertips so if I get the urge at 3 am, no problem.

Really, I think I will issue a moratorium. No new books until I read five of what I have waiting for me. Kind of a reward system. Read five books, you get to go get one new one. Maybe I could even make a sticker chart. It worked for potty training the kids…

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