Hello. My name is Stef and I am an addict.
I have never taken drugs. Aside from the odd prescription when I’m sick, or aspirin when my head starts to pound, I’m drug-free. Of course, there’s coffee – apparently that’s a drug. And there’s alcohol – I can’t resist a good
glass bottle of red (my monthly budget has a separate allowance for wine). That’s it. Drug-free.
So why do I get cravings? Why do I get withdrawals? Why, when I have not read a book for a week, do I start to twitch? Why, when I am out and do not have a book with me, do I feel anxious? Why, when I am at work or a social event, do I think about the next chance I’ll have to read?
During my university studies I barely read a book I didn’t need to read. Fortunately, being an English major, that still meant I was reading plenty of books. Then I stopped. I didn’t stop completely, but I probably averaged 3-5 books in a year. Yes. A year.
Since I started keeping records of books I have read, my reading habits have changed. I set the goal of “a book a week” with the aim of reading 52 books each year. Last year was a bit of a struggle. Funnily enough, I was spending so much time writing that reading was being sidelined. I was addicted to writing last year, this year it’s reading. I have an addictive personality. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve never bothered to try smoking – I know I’d be hooked fairly quickly. It’s also one of the reasons why I need to delete Candy Crush Saga from my iPhone, but haven’t yet. I will. Soon. Promise.
When I think of all the things I could be addicted to, literature isn’t the most self-destructive addiction out there. Some would argue that it isn’t self-destructive at all, but they have probably never spent a week eating boiled rice and foraging for anything in the depths of the freezer hoping Forward-Thinking-Past-Me had left some kind of sustenance in preparation for when the bank account hits $3.92 with another week until pay-day. All because buying 20 books in a week seemed like a perfectly good idea. (And it was. I don’t regret my one week of rice.)
I blame my mother. I know it’s a common scapegoat, the mother thing, but it’s true. Even in our most rice-filled weeks, we seemed to have money for books and CDs (back when CDs were cool). “There’s always money for books and music!” she would declare, whipping out a credit card.
In fairness, I also blame my father. He’s the quiet one, the one you really need to watch. He’s the one who spends afternoons with his feet up and a book in his hands. (The book usually ends up resting on his chest when he starts snoring.) He’s the one who gave me free-reign on the triple-layered bookshelves in the living room – action and adventure books designed to entertain. And entertain they did.
It’s books. Books, books, books. Even my landlord commented on the over-burdened shelves and queried what I was going to do with them all when I return to Australia. To me, the answer was obvious. I’ll throw out old clothes that aren’t worth keeping. I’ll give away kitchen appliances and sell off furniture. The books? They’re coming with me.
So, I’m an addict. I hope this doesn’t change your opinion of me.