What is it about not having a book to read that makes a reader feel as jittery as a crack addict waiting for her dealer in the alley by the Stop & Shop?
When I don’t have a book or a prospect of a book, I feel lost. I’m at peace when there has been a book buying extravaganza (rare) or a fruitful day at the library, leaving me with a stack of books by my bedside and giddy with choices: should I read the novel first or the nonfiction essay collection? The novella or the how-to book for my latest project?
When I need a fix, I head to my dealer: Brookline Booksmith. It offers a pleasing array of new arrivals and a solid collection of discounted recent hits. When a cover intrigues me, I skim the flap because it invariably tells you too much, and instead read the first couple of pages to get a sense if I can stick it out for 200 or 300 pages. And then, when I’ve satisfied myself with a few potential titles, I walk out empty-handed, like a junkie trying to quit.
Lately, I’ve been trying to get my books at the library. But the selection has been limited, so I end up back at home, bookless. Silly really, because I even have a credit at the Booksmith from selling back a bunch of books. I have no idea what I’m saving this for. I mean, I’m in a true book crisis here. This is the time to play my Get Out of Jail Free card, but for some reason I can’t fork it over.
Instead, I make do reading magazines and cereal boxes and bank statements, which only occasionally offer the drama of a novel. And I wait for my requests to come in at the library or pretend I’m content reading that classic tome on my shelf that I’ve resisted for years, which we all know I’ll abandon once the flashier contemporary novel arrives.
Well, Christmas is coming, and while I may be asking for fewer books, opting to borrow them instead, I’m hoping Santa might just take the hint and bring me a library.