I think I'm addicted…

… to reading.

Back in July when I was making my push-to-finish-the-novel (which turned out to be a push-to-“finish”-the-novel) I started going to a nearby coffee shop to see whether leaving the house would increase my productivity. (Answer: somewhat.) Well, just down the street from the coffee shop is the library — i.e., my crack house.

Once I realized I would be driving by there pretty much every day, I went online to see if the library had any of the books I’d been wanting to read but wasn’t quite curious enough about to actually buy. And they did! So I put a few — okay, SIX — of them on hold, and I went on with my life.

Then the emails came. “Your book is here! Come pick it up! Yippee!” Or something to that effect. One after another after another. Soon I had a stack of 4 books next to my work station — okay, my COUCH — at any given time, and they were all beckoning me to read them.

Normally I’m a huge proponent of reading — it is, after all, a gateway drug to other wonderful but dangerous activities such as broadening one’s horizons, sympathizing with people different from oneself, and even developing an imagination. But I was getting in too deep. I would stay up late to get to the end of the chapter. I would blow off my morning writing session, telling myself that what I was reading would stimulate my mind for the afternoon. Then I would blow off my afternoon session, reasoning that I still had all evening to work. Then I would read through dinner and after, and the book would be done, and I would feel such an immense sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I didn’t even care I had lost a whole day.

Until, of course, I looked at the calendar and realized that I had lost a whole day. MY NOVEL had lost a whole day.

So I’ve come to a decision. From now on I will only check out ONE library book at a time. When that book is finished, I can return it and check out another one. No more binge-reading an entire stack in a week. If I should run out before the next book comes in, well, then I will just have to content myself with something from the substantial piles by my bed. (Oh yeah, I OWN plenty of unread books too. The library’s just a bonus dealer.)

Above all, I must combine this new policy of book monogamy with SELF-DISCIPLINE. (Putting it in all caps make it more serious, right?) No more blowing off writing sessions. No more negotiating with myself. The most important book in my life IS MY OWN.



Good. Now get to writing!

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  1. Hahaha I used to do that too! I’d go to the library and borrow a ton of books and spend all my time reading. It drove my parents crazy that I refused to do anything else. Poor them. Anyway, best of luck with your writing! :)

  2. Ha! Sure…..one book at a time. Until I recommend some more goodies to you! Kidding! ;)

  3. I’m right there with you. I picked up seven new releases from the library the other day. It’s like I have to feed the addiction or I get the sweats and chills…well, ok, not *literally* but you get my drift.

    I finally put myself on a schedule. I read during my lunch hour (diving into revisions for one hour is just confusing and I end up frustrated, so I read), write when I get home for two hours, read for two hours, and then finally sleep. Then on the weekends I wake up early, write most of the day, read at night. I’ve found it’s a good balance, but I’m also one of those people that has to have a strict (self-imposed) schedule.

    It sounds like you have a great plan for curbing your addiction. I finally conceded to the fact that I may not finish all the books, but that’s okay. I’ll just read as much as I can and then put them on the hold list again, lol.

    Great post =)

  4. It’s just so tough to ignore them when they’re sitting there, so pretty and compelling, and waiting to be read. How, oh how, to refuse? Like we’ve been chatting about on twitter, I’ve found it really helps me to write first. I’m an early bird and prefer writing in the morning anyway, and having that routine helps me set aside the books for later. Kind of a reward for the work, I guess?

    Of course, the 40% off sale at Borders is NOT helping…. ;-)

  5. LOL. Can totally relate to this. What you need is a really unfriendly librarian. I haven’t been to our library in two weeks (we – with my little boy – usually go every couple of days) because I got told off for not standing behind the line while I was waiting to check my books out. Just the impetus I needed to cold turkey my addiction!

  6. Oh, boy, I completely understand. I actually haven’t been to the library in a few weeks mainly because I have so many on my shelves at home waiting to be read, and my TBR pile is overflowing. It’s so hard to say no to a story, but sometimes it’s for the best.

    And you can always visit them later. ;)

  7. Just call me an enabler because obviously you need to be reading right now. :) Okay, I’m glad you’re able to kick the habit somewhat. I need that advice sometimes too. It’s when you’re reading books that AREN’T worth your time, because you’re obligated, or because you’ve read the first two already…that’s a serious problem. xx

  8. I guess I’m lucky in that I have the “no reading novels while writing” rule that works for me. I totally get that you get inspired to write by reading so that rule wouldn’t work for you. That definitely makes life trickier. Good luck with the new policy!

  9. Joelle Wilson

    Book addiction – I understand it. One book..good policy. I like that the most important book is your book, I rather like that a lot. Another good rule it is. :)

  10. Ingrid

    Hi Kristan :) haha, I have the opposite problem. I just keep writing and then I never get to the books I want so badly to read! If only time-turners were real. Anyway, you DO need to keep writing your book because I’m dying to read the ending! Get to it, girl.

  11. That’s all I’ve wanted to do lately, too. I sat and read a whole book yesterday, but that wasn’t enough.

    P.S. I have my library card barcodes memorized for three different library systems. That should give you an idea of how many books I reserve. Yikes!

  12. Jon

    Haha, love this post. Libraries are so awesome. It’s nice to see that not everyone is addicted to their Kindles, either!

  13. oh this is so so me. I’ve always said that taking me to Barnes and Noble is like taking an alcoholic to the liquor store. Man oh man. I go in for one freaking book and come out with four. Extremely damaging to my pocketbook and getting anything done–like working on my novel.

    Totally feel you PAIN!

  14. Linda-
    Pssh, haha, they should be happy you were reading and not anything worse!

    Lol yeah you’re dangerous…

    I have a schedule, I’ve just been doing a lousy job sticking to it… :( I’m SO glad yours is working for you, though! Major props. And yeah, I need to remind myself that I can just ask for the library book again a later date. :P

    Strangely I find myself most productive in the afternoon — after I’ve wasted SOME time, but not so much that I’m discouraged about it. Weird (and maybe a bit pathetic? lol) but true.

    Yeesh, no thanks! All librarians should be awesome.

    I know, I’ve really got to remember that the books aren’t suddenly going to vanish if I don’t get to them RIGHT. NOW. :P

    Haha, that’s the worst. I’ve gotten better at saying no to books that aren’t worthwhile… but that still leaves so many that ARE!

    I’m working on it, I promise!

    WOW, haha, I can’t even remember my number for one library system…

    Oh, I’m addicted to my Kindle TOO. Lol.

    We need a Can’t Stop Reading Anonymous or something!

  15. Les

    I wish I was still addicted to reading. I do go to the library 1-2x a month but it’s typically for nonfic/reference books now. I have a hard time finding books that I actually enjoy nowadays.

  16. Aww, boo. What are the last few books you did enjoy reading? Maybe I can come up with some recommendations…

  17. A virtuous addiction, Kristan, totally understandable and shared by people of the highest caliber, like me. Here is another reason why books are so addictive: http://www.thedominoproject.com/2011/08/the-big-pile-of-books.html

  18. I took heart from your experience. I am taking three books back to the library today.

    That only leaves four, but they are essential.

  19. I know EXACTLY how you feel! I checked out some books from the library recently (I limited myself to two) but I’m not allowed to read them until I finish all of my summer reading for school. Not that the books we have to read aren’t interesting, they’re just not quite as interesting as the books I want to read. Luckily, I got my parents to put them on a high shelf out of reach….until I get a step ladder ;)

  20. Graeme-
    You’re a stronger man than I. I have 3 library books (2 of which belong to a friend, not me!!) and I can’t bring myself to take them back. I am, however, sticking to 1 book at a time… Thank goodness for renewals!

    Lol nice trick. Maybe I should ask my boyfriend to hide my extra books…

  21. Omigosh, this sounds just like me. Only I ordered (gasp!) 14 books. And now I’m down to the last three. I’ve been on a binge. Now it’s time to write again. And I’m blogging…*sigh*

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