Ever had that moment when you come home with new book swaddled inside a plastic bag, begging for a prime spot on your bookshelf... and then you stare in horror as the packed shelves, some even piled up with books squished between each other? Yep, that's me.
I know I've mentioned my lack of shelf space before, but summer's a great time to make a dent in your reading list - and donate whatever books don't meet your fancy.
If anyone's keeping tabs on my Goodreads account, you'll see that I've been serious about reading and clearing space on my bookshelves. I feel like I'm holding a new book every day, sniffing the pages and admiring the fonts. After writing for so hard and long in grad school, it's been a wonderful experience to put reading first for a while, allowing myself to explore other enchanting and dangerous worlds, fall in love with dashing boys, and cheer on smart, brave heroines.
But with a lot of reading comes the (often hilarious) hazards. Especially when you're adopting new books while clearing out the old ones.
I tweeted about this a few days ago, but I had a funny experience at a local store that sells used books. After scanning their dusty shelves, I found five books that I'd either been meaning to take out of the library (for years... yeah, I'm lazy) or that I've pined for my own copy of.
So I gathered these books up, stood in line, and met a big non-reader manning the cash register.
I put my books down and fished through my wallet for some dollars. And the lady working the register looked at my books with a mixture on confusion and disgust.
Cashier: "What are you gonna do with these?"
Me: ... read them.
What. For a second there, my brain stalled and wondered what exactly you could use a book for besides reading. I've heard of people (surely mustache-twirling villains) who tear up books for craft projects. If you're buying books to give to other people for gifts, that's surely good, though the books will eventually be read - if not by you, then by someone else.
My stunned response must have sparked something in her. The cashier started studying my books, examining each cover. Among the other books, I had found a baby names book. I already have one, and in a pinch, am guilty of using online databases when I'm not near my bookshelf. However, it's been years since I got a new baby names book, so I chose this one (get ready for future awesomely-named characters, guys). She picked up the baby names book, looked pointedly at my stomach, and asked me why I was buying it.
Did that just happen? My stomach is as flat as a board (Thank you, Wii Fit Plus), so her confusion only mounted.
Me: I'm a writer. I need this book to find names for my characters.
Cashier: ... *raises eyebrow*
Cashier... that'll be $8.03
I left the store feeling a little shaken, a laugh bubbling up in my throat. As much as people talk about the loss of readers these days, I've never really believed it. Everyone reads something - even if it's just Sports Illustrated or the back of a cereal box - and every once in a while a book will come along that they'll want to bring home. It happens. My aunt reads only best sellers. My dad browses business books an biographies. But I haven't met a real non-reader in a long time. It's like meeting an alien from another planet.
So here I am, trying to read a book a day, and squeezing in writing time when I can. I've been utterly delighted by some of these books, while others had won my heart until they gutted it on the very last page (the WORST!). With each page I read, I feel more refreshed, and the blank document that blinks its ugly one-eyed cursor at me becomes friendly and a little playful.
I may not have traveled to England this summer, but I've been a great many magical places via my bursting bookcase.